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seem as if the improvement ought to be slightly manifest by this time. I know well the argument and theory, that the Ayrshires have been bred with care for years in Scotland, on a soil similar to our own, and have been brought to great perfection as milkers, and that it is a waste of time to undertake to bring up our stock to their standard. But have they always proved as expected ? In fact, have they averaged better than good natives? A few years since, a herd of Ayrshires was imported by the Massachusetts Agricultural Society, and were kept on our county farm one season. Mr. Brown, who had charge of them, was of the opinion they were not superior to as many heifers selected at random from an eastern drove. These same heifers were afterwards removed to the Bussey farm, near Boston. I have never seen a published account of the disposition made of them by the Society, but rumor says they were disposed of in a manner which redounds more to the credit of the Society, than to the Ayrshire breed of cattle, and these were selected by one of the best judges in the State, regardless of expense.
Of Jerseys, a few years since, it herd of eight pure bloods was owneil in the northern part of the county, by J. P. Putnam. Their owner employed as foreman, a man who hail been used to native cows, who informed me there was not il fair milker among them, and what surprised me more, that the quality of their milk was but little, if any, better than natives. At any rate. they purchased a native of the • Wilmington Fariner," that was so much superior, that the Jersey flock was very soon disposed of.
of the North Devon it is perhaps unnecessary to spek, ils I do not remember of their being exhibited in our County for sereral years past, and yet Mr. Coleman,
in his European Agriculture says, the two finest cows he saw in Europe, were North Devons, and Mr. Buckminister, with all the influences of the Massachusetts Ploughman, sounding their praise, publishing the statement year after year, that from four quarts of their milk, a pound of butter was made, and at his death, the stock sold for less than the average price of natives in the same condition.
I do not like to be obliged to write, as I have, in disparagement of the popular breeds in our State, nor do I believe that all Ayrshires and Jerseys are as poor milkers, as some of those to which I have referred. But I have written what I have to show that the mere fact of an animal being a pure bred one, is not, of itself, proof that he is superior to a native.
Of the real merits of pure blooded stock, it is extreinely difficult to obtain correct information. With the exception of bulls, they hardly ever come up to compete for premiums, but often for exhibition, only. They are bred chiolly for sale, and of course we only liear what is favorable. It would be much inore pleasant to fall in with the popular argument, which is nearly stereotyped at all our discussions in Legislative llalls or Colleges, which is, that the Durhains are a large breed of cattle, — too large for our pastures, – good for beef, but are poor milkers, while the Ayrshires are more hardy, better adapted to poor feed and give large quantities of milk, while the gentleman who wishes pet animals and rich milk, must have the Jerseys which are delicate and need ex
My experience is confined chiefly to a part of our own county; in other parts of the State, the improvement by pure bred animals, may have been more marked, but
I must say what I have before hinted, that the Durham is the only blood which has been infused into the stock of our County with manifest improvement.
How are we to improve our stock ?
1st. By improving our pastures, instead of feeding them year after year and returning them nothing. Let us keep down the bushes, and manure them in some way and then it will not be necessary to keep inferior animals to accommodate our pastures.
2d. In awarding a premium for bulls, award it for the best animal, whether native or thorough-bred and let his offspring decide his merit. In other words, let every competitor for a premium on bulls be obliged to exhibit, with the animal, his stock; some calves of the present season, also yearlings, two-years-old and older still, if possible. In this way only, can you judge whether crossing with thorough-breds is an advantage, or otherwise.
3d. Be careful in selecting your committee. Select men of good judgment, and who have no particular interest to puff any breed.
Lastly. Pay higher premiums. I do not mean pay more money than you now do, but put the amount in fewer premiums. For instance, instead of paying $10 for the best Durham and $10 for the best Jersey, &c., pay $30 for the best bull, without regard to breed, $5 only for the second, and let there be no third, and if the same bull is the best one the next year, give him the first premium again. In this way I think you will make people enthusiastic to get the best and keep it so, and I shall be surprised if in less than two years, there is not apparent improvement in the stock of our County.
When we consider the number of societies that havebeen formed in this Commonwealth by the tillers of the soil for mutual encouragement and improvement, the variety and large circulation of periodicals devoted to their interests, the machines and implements which the inventive genius of the day is producing to lighten their labors, the superiority of modern farm buildings, the new fruits and vegetables which are yearly offered to the public, and improvement in all kinds of stock, it is natural to infer that our agriculture is progressing rapidly, for are not all these things sure indications of a deeper interest, more careful study, and a higher success ?
It is true there has been a great advance in the ways and means in farm management, that never before did farmers manifest so strong a desire for thorough, accurate knowledge, and never were so many educated men devoting their time and talents to its elevation; but amid these cheering signs of progress are others of a different character, which give another view to the subject. Ride about any county, traverse the length and breadth of the State, and the traveller may go a long
distance without seeing a single work of permanent improvement in progress. Occasionally he will find a man subduing meadow land, or breaking up a rough pasture, but not in a strong-handed, energetic way, as if he were positive of the utility and profitableness of his labor. Here and there he will see new buildings. The fact that the old ones are tumbling down is as often the cause of their erection as the pressing necessity of enlarged accommodations. If he examines every farm carefully, he will be surprised at the number where the pastures are growing up to bushes, briars and brambles, where mowing fields need to be renovated, where the crops suffer for want of thorough under draining, where a majority of the fruit trees are upon the decline from old age or neglect, where walls and fences require re-building, and the buildings are behind the times and rapidly going to decay from lack of timely repairs. A large portion of the farins are owned by people who have passed the meridian of life; their children are grown up and gone; under increasing years and increasing infirmities, what was once to them a pleasure has become a burden. Short of reliable and efficient help, they adopt that course of inanagement which involves the least care and labor. These men can tell you of the larger crops this farm has produced, or the greater number of stock which that one kept, and freely admit the backward tendency of their own homesteads. The simple fact that none of the children can be induced to assist in carrying on the farin, causes scores in every county to be thrown upon the market for sale. Everywhere can be seen field after field that does not pay interest, taxes, and cost of maintaining fences. Scarcely a beginning has been made in thorough drainage, and yet the wet lands, which consti