By E. Parmalee Prentice
Scandinavia, the land from which the conquerors came, produced a numerous race of powerful and restless people for whom it could not provide even the simple necessaries which its population required. Frequently, therefore, parties of emigrants were sent out for whom there was not room at home. Of the departure of these emigrants Dudon gives a very striking account:
As the final act of their expulsion and departure they were accustomed to sacrifice in honor of their god Tor. To him however nothing was given from flock or herd, nor of wine or ale but sanctifying the offering they poured out human blood, thinking it the most precious of all burnt offerings, so when the priest prophesied by divination, instead of a yoke of oxen being sacrified they (i.e. human beings) one after another were fiercely struck on the head, each person rreceiving one single blow, then his brains being taken out, he was laid on the ground, and the inside of the heart, towards the left, that is the artery, was examined.
The conqueror of a large part of what is now known as northwestern France was Raoul - or Rollo - the first Duke of Normandy, not a man of whom it could be said that piracy annoyed him seriously, for the left Norway in 876, desolated and plundered the Low Countries and then entering the Seine river pillaged and sacked towns along his course until he laid siege to Paris in 885. His conquests thereafter were continuous until the French king, Charles the Simple, was compellled in 911 to ask for peace. The negotiations are described by Dudon of Saint Quenting as follows:
At the time agreed upon both parties came to the place which had been appointed and which is called Saint Clair. The army of Rollo encamped on one side of the Epta river while the army of the king and of Robert (the Duke of France) camped on the other side. Rollo at once sent the archbishop to the king of the French to say:
It is impossible for Rollo to make peace with you since the territory you offer him knows not the plough, of flocks and herds it is entirely bare, and it is despoiled of all human habitations. On such land no one can live except by rapine and plunder.
The territory which was unploughed and entirely without flocks and herds, was none ofther than Normandy, which Guernsey breed literature of the last twenty-five or thirty years asserts was, in 1060, the source of the Isigny breed.
There is no suggestion in the pleasant sentences which the Guernsey Club says that it quotes from "the Norman Chronicles" of such conditions as Norse desolation and plunder produced throughout northern France.
We have read the Norman history in the books mentioned in the foot-note as also the authorities which M. Dupont lists. There are in these books very few passages dealing with cattle and fewer still which refer to the Island of Guernsey. Such of the text as deals at all with either of these subjects is indicated in the note by page references. Nothing whatever resembling the sentences which the Guernsey Club prints has been found in the note by page references. Nothing whatever resembling the sentences which the Guernsey Club prints has been found. These sentences do not bear the character of the writings of those old times and they have all the marks of modern promotional literature.
In the meanwhile, it is clear that neither the Froment de Leon or the Isigny breed of cattle could have existed in the 10th and 11th centuries.
The story, then, of the secular clergy and of the cattle, which it was said that they brought to Guernsey a thousand years ago, falls to its own weight because it had no historical foundation to support it. How Robert the Devil, came to be mentioned in connection with events which occurred before he was born; how Norse conquerors became so softened that they were seriously annoyed by piracy; how a "bill of lading" that was not given to monks departing from "the small fishing village of dielette" - because the monks spoken of in the story did not depart from that, or any other village, and took no cattle to Guernsey, - could turn up in the Greffe at Saint Peter-Port after lying undiscovered for nearly a thousand years; and where "the Chronicles" are which contain the peaceful picture of bright-eyed cows that were quiet milkings - all these things, like the name of Billy Patterson`s famous assailant, - are unknown and likely so to remain.
The herd-test and butter-fat test have never very much interested Island farmers. Their concern has been type, appearance, and price. The yellow-and-white cow has developed, mostly since the year 1900, for the purpose of sale, and she has sold. She has, indeed, been a gold mine for Guernseymen and every effort has been made to lend interest to island cattle by stories of Norman Chronicles, of famous Norman dukes, of Ten Centuries of Breeding, and of patient island farmers whose single interest was the improvement of dairy qualities in island cows. It would, of course, bring commercial advantage if these yellow-and-white animals could be invested with mystery, -but it can not be done, for their history is too well known.
The fact is that many Guernsey cattle came from, and still resemble, the French cattle in near-by provinces of France. As an illustration of the identity of the two breeds - the Guernsey cattle and the French cattle, - Mr. Charles Kittls says that-
... just prior to the war, (of 1914-1918) two heifers sent from Guernsey were exhibited at a show in St. Pol and were awarded prizes without the judges being aware that they were imported cattle.
BELIEVE IT OR NOT By Ripley
. Cattle of the
Island of Guernsey
have an unbroken
pedigree going back
to the Year 960 A.D.
- until this month
when moved to England
From cartoon published in many papers July 30, 1940. Reprinted by special permission of King Features Syndicate and BelieveIt-or-Not Ripley.
Sorry Mr. Ripley, but we can not believe it!
The Royal Guernsey Agricultural and Horticultural Society on the Island of Guernsey opened pedigree books for selected Guernsey cattle in 1881. Cattle whose ancestors, for one or more generations, are entered in these books are known as Pedigree Stock - P.S. All other Guernsey cattle are called Foundation Stock, -F.S. No pedigree can go back to a date earlier than 1881, and those having a complete pedigree for many years since 1881 are rare.
It seems, therefore, that any development of dairy cattle which may have taken place on Guernsey has not been different from the development of dairy cattle which has taken place on the continent, although here is no claim that the French cattle have been "isolated" from other cattle for ten centuries or for any period whatever before institution of the Norman Herd Book.
If therefore, the story of Ten Centuries of Breeding is to be repeated, and insisted upon the "greet hevyng an shovyng for to aspye hough this mater kam aboute" will, probably, increase until evidence in its support is produced, or the story abandoned.
That cattle were carried to be the Islands is unimportant, since a cattle trade had doubtless existed for centuries between mainland and Islands, and so long as this trade continued there was, of course, a constant mingling of Continental and Island cattle.
If the Royal Society wished to prove by Mr. Kitts`pamphlet that the cattle of Guernsey had long been segregated from other cattle, it should have been their purpose to show - not that this trade had an ancient beginning, but that it had an ancient ending. The relevant question was not when the trade arose, but when it stopped.
Being started, however, the story of the Dielette barges grew, and the rise of the Guernsey breed during the long period not covered by records is taken for granted by the Royal Guernsey Cattle Society in one brief sentence of an advertisement:
The development of the "Guernsey" through the centuries, and since the time of the monks has naturally been by a primitive form of selection,
to which the American Guernsey Cattle Club in another advertisement added the further detail that during the long development of the breed:
All cattle which did not produce the quantity or quality of milk desired were butchered. As the result the breed gradually improved.
These statements are wholly imaginative, like the account of Tabitha Bramble`s cow. They are inconsistent with known conditions on the Islands, and must be entirely disregarded as history.
Of Jersey cattle, no such elaborate account has developed. Mr. Gow, it is true, says that the "U.S. Consul at Liverpool, England, reported in 1885 that the Jersey breed had been pure-bred for five hundred years," - a statement which is absurd on its face, for which Mr. Gow himself assumes no responsibility, and upon which the United States Department of Agriculture does not comment.
Such publications as these need little attention. It is well known, as Hamlet informed Horatio, that "every man hath business and desire, such as it is," - for his own profit of course; - and we know that it is impossible to learn the facts of history from advertisements of associations which have repeated fiction as fact, and have mis-stated statutes.
The poet, William Cowper, attributes to the spirit of western civilization the statement:
Disinterested good, is not our trade
We travel far, `tis true, but not for nought,
and Samuel Johnson says that for the false statements of commerce "the motive is so apparent that they are seldom negligenty or implicitly received; suspicion is always watchful over the practices of interest; and whatever the hope of gain ..can prompt one man to assert, another is by reasons equally cogent incited to refute."
Possibly the men of a couple of hundred years ago were less trustful than men of the present day, or possibly Samuel Johnson did not know how great the power of suggestion is, nor did he understand that constant repetition is sufficient, with many minds, to produce conviction. The full effect of advertisement is one of the discoveries of the last hundred years, and it is upon this effect of advertisement - of constant repetition -that the legend of the antiquity of Channel Island breeds has been built.
Rise of the Jersey breed. During the eighteenth century and during the first third of the 19th century, Jersey farmers paid very little attention to the improvement of Island cattle. Jersey cows and heifers being comparatively cheap, - although selling for prices which were better than Island farmers had ever before known - had a ready market in England, and Jersey cattlemen were content. In 1815 Mr. Quayle said:
So long as the Jersey cow continues to command the present high price in England, and notwithstanding her tender frame and thinness of hair, to be in the same request for gentlemen`s dairires, the islanders will continue to act wisely in cherishing their own breed, in order to supply that market, a the same time that the draft ox is found at home extremely useful. Should the market in England become gluttet, in consequence of the breed`s being perpetuated or improved in any home district, og by becoming less fashionable, there is great probability, from the exuberant fertility of the pastures in the island, and its favorable climate, that the shorthorned race of cattle, which has recently attained such high perfection in the Vale of Tyne, would, if transplanted hither, be found well suited to the spot..but hitherto no persevering, systematical experimenter has attempted, by a careful selection of individuals, and attention to their crosses, to improve this breed. From the narrow limits of each dairy farm, and shall quantity of pasture in the occupation of any one person, it is not likely that such an attempt will speedily be made. When a cow is famed as a good milker, her male progeny is preserved; but this is for a short period, and it is not known that any other measure whatever has been persevered in, to keep up the breed at its present standard.
To this Mr. Quayle adds that bulls on the Island oof Jersey were seldom preserved entire to their third year.
By this erroneous practice, which is but too general in other countries, it becomes impossible to ascertain the merit of any individual, and consequently to preserve his progeny; were the treatment of horses similar, how speedily would they degenerate.
It was about 1833, according to Colonel Le Couteur, that the first effort was made to improve the form and quality of the Jersey cow, and of this work he gave an interesting account at the request of the Royal Agricultural Society of England in an article published in the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society in 1845, and reprinted i 1850 in the Transactions of the New York State Agricultural Society.
Of the ancient race of Jersey cattle, as Colonel Le Couteur calls the Island cattle of Jersey as they existed from 1800 to 1830,-
...it was stated, perhaps with truth, that it had no tendency to fatten; indeed, some cows of the old breed were so ungainly, high-boned and ragged in form, Meg Merrilies of cows, that no attempt to fatten them might succeed - the great quantities of milk and cream which they produced probably absorbing all their fattening properties. Yet careful attention to crossing has greatly remedied this defect. By having studied the habits of a good cow with a little more tendency to fatten than others, and crossing her with a fleshy, wellconditioned bull, of a race that was also known to produce quality and quantity of butter - the next generation has proved of a rounder form, with a tendency to make fat, without having lost the butyraceous nature. (p.322).
Of what seemed to Colonel Le Couteur "great quantities of milk and cream," something will be said later. His chief concern, which really troubled him, was that the old race had no tendency to fatten and so, to show what the ancient race of Jersey was, Colonel Le Couteur presented pictures of The Old Jersey Cow, and Beauty, - The Improved Jersey Cow, of which copies appear facing the following page. In publishing the first of these pictures, Colonel Le Couteur had no intention to depreciate the Improved Jerseys of his time and he was anxious to see to it that these improved cows should not be condemned for defects which no longer existed. What Jerseys had been before 1830 was only too well known in England, since cows and heifers had, for a hundred years , been imported and used in English dairies. Dairymen in England had found that they were worth what they cost when fresh, or about to freshen, since, like the Norman cows sent from the Cotentin to Paris dairies, they could be sold to the butcher for what they would bring when they ceased to give milk.
With this condition Colonel Le Couteur was not satisfied. A great change for the better, he insisted, had taken place as shown by his picture of The Improved Jersey Cow - being apparently a cross between a native Jersey and an imported Shorthorn.
There are Jersey breeders of the present day who refuse to believe that these pictures accord with the facts of Jersey history. Breeders of a hundred years ago took a different view. To them, Colonel Le Couteur was one of the foremost promoters of Jersey interests and, therefore, on February 27, 1850, members of the Royal Jersey Society presneted him with a telescope in recognition of his services. "Few of the Society`s officers," the Secretary says, "have so well merited such a testimonial of appreciation."
Colonel Le Couteur was not willing, however, taht the work of improvement should stop where it then stood. Jersey cattle can be made still better, he says, but -
The evil was, and still exists, that most Jersey farmers, like many others, never thought of crossing with a view to improvement, conscious of possessing a breed excellent for the production of rich milk and cream... the Jersey farmer sought no further. He was content to possess an ugly, ill-formed animal, with flat sides, wide between the ribs and hips, cathammed, narrow and high hips, with a hollow back.
Of course, in the days when it was considered "undeniably bad farming, therefore bad economy, to breed and keep cattle which are useful only for their milking or working properties," it was not profitable to own such an animal as the Old Jersey Cow. The amount received from the sale of milk was not enough eighty years ago, by itself, to make a dairy profitable, so that, unless the cow at the end of her lactation brought a good price from the butcher, the net result was a loss. Englishmen demanded dairy cattle that made good feeders when not milking. This demand, Mr. Charles Vancouver said, the Channel Island cattle did not meet, for, if they are not crossed with a larger Englsih breed, their weight "will seldom exceed six score per quarter" and "however fat and well finished for slaughter" their meat is "certainly inferior to the quality of English beef in general." Colonel Le Couteur proposed, therefore, to improve the meat-producing qualities of Jersey cattle by mating them with better beef cattle.
Colonel Le Couteur`s view of the necessity of "crossing" was founded upon his observation of these Island cattle in England where Alderneys had made no headway when mated together but where good results had often followed when they had been "mingled in blood with native races" or mated with Shorthorns, Devons og Ayrshires. In France there had been no improvement when Breton cattle had been mated with Bretons but great progress had followed a Shorthorn cross. As Youatt says of 18th century breeding, improvement had "been attempted by selecting females from the native stock of the country and crossing them with males of alien breed." Improvement of the Island breed should, therefore, Colonel Le Couteur argued, be sought by following on the Island the method of breeding which had been found successful in England. "Crossing was then understood to mean," Lord Ernle says, "the mixture of two alien breeds, one of which was relatively inferior." In this case, the Jerseys were the relatively inferior breed which it was sought to improve, and Colonel Le Couteur proposed to cross them with a breed which, from Jersey cattle, would produce stock salable in England.
In modern language, no dairyman would speak of "crossing" a Jersey with a Jersey and that was not what Colonel Le Couteur called crossing in his article. He used the word as it is used by breeders of the present day, quoting Quayle, for example, to the effect "that the Ayrshire was a cross between the shorthorned breed and the Alderney." In another connection, he said, "It is not doubted that crosses from the Jersey breed have taken place," for excellent Jerseys have been sent to England and Scotland and "if pains were taken, the race and its consequents might be distinctly traced, which might lead to important results in breeding." He referred also to an article on The ANgus Breed in which a picture of a beautiful heifer was shown, "said to be out of a very small cow, with a remote dash of Guernsey blood in her." (p.235)
Colonel Le Couteur, then, knew what "crossing" was, and he wanted to improve the Jersey race by crossing with a bull "of another race" that had desirable meat conformation and, besides this, had milk production in his pedigree. His words are that he advised improving the offspring of a good Jersey cow.
.. by crossing her with a fleshy, well-conditioned bull, of a race that was also known to produce quality and quantity of butter ... (322),
or, as he stated the same question elsewhere:
The only question in the selection of a bull.. was, Is the breed a good one? meaning, solely, had its progenitors been renowned for their milking and creaming qualities? (p. 321).
The Jerseyman who desired to improve the Jersey race must, then, cross with a fleshy, well-conditioned bull "also" known to be of a productive breed, and, to decide whether this breed was in truth productive, the breeder should consider solely the productive qualities of the bull`s progenitors. Jerseymen were slow to do this but, nevertheless, in the end it was done.
The Annual Report of the Royal Jersey Society for 1846, which was mainly of a retrospective character, reciting the progress that had been made, contains a quotation from the report of the judges at the Cattle Show held on March 31, 1834, when the Judges said:
Your Committee may be warranted in expressing an opinion, that, by judicious crossing, a material and speedy improvement in the race of Jersey Cows may be expected; and ... this improvement is not only attainable ..but that, by crossing the breed, perfection is most likely to be attained, if proper pains be taken in the selection.
It was not working within the breed that the Committee had in mind. They advocated "crossing the breed" and the rise begang when the crossing was made. This was the point which Colonel Le Couteur had emphasized. "Careful attention to crossing," he said, remedied the defects of the ancient race of Jerseys, and of the improved breed he presents the picture of which a copy faces page 342.
The improvement of the Jersey, of which Colonel Le Couteur speaks, began, therefore, after the year 1833 and before 1844, since, according to his account, it was in progress in 1844,- the standard which Jersey breeders had in mind being a double standard of meat and milk. "The grand desideratum," Colonel Le Couteur said, "is to discover a breed that will be useful to the grazier, the dairyman and the small farmer."
This standard is shown in the picture of Beauty, whose milk record at the age of four years and in the flush season in May, soon after calving, amounted to 38 pounds a day of milk testing 4.4%. Beauty`s appearance indicates that she was better for beef than for the dairy. This, of course, was before the days when there were a great market for milk. Meat was always the first consideration. It seems that COlonel Le Couteur`s example was followed by other breeders, for Alderney and Guernsey cows and heifers "of the improved breed" or "breeds" were advertised for sale in England.
The first score-card or scale of points for judging Jersey cattle, when exhibited in competition at Cattle Shows, was adopted in 1834, perfection in bulls scoring 25 points and in females 27. Later, other points were added. What prize Jersey cows, selected by the method of this score-card, looked like in 1869, is shown facing the preceding page.
We know that SHorthorns and Ayrshires had been introduced from England into the Island of Jersey, and the red and white, and brown and white colors - which appear so often on the cows and heifers which Mr. E. Parsons Fowler offered for sale show that Ayrshire breeding had great effect on Island cattle. The Enclyclopaedia Britannica, speaking of Jerseys in 1875, said that "the race as a whole bears a striking resemblance to the Ayrshires, " and Moll and Gayot in 1860 said that "it would often be difficult to distinguish between some Ayrshires and some Alderneys." The two races plainly have a large common inheritance, the Ayrshires owing something to an interbreeding with ALderneys, and the Alderneys owing much to Ayrshires which had been imported into the Islands. The Brown Swiss seem to have influenced Jersey cattle also, the inheritance coming either from England or possibly from Normandy. Of Shorthorn influence, when mated with other cattle, Mr. James Macdonald says:
Shorthorns have been crossed freely with all the local races and sorts of cattle, and have everywhere and upon every sort effected marked improvement. In all that adds value to cattle, improvement has followed in the wake of the Shorthorn..
Beauty, then, may well be the product of a Shorthorn cross. Certainly she did not enherit her shape from the Old Jersey Cow without the influence of some outside blood.
A dairy cow was, therefore, in the days before the development of what are now known as dairy breeds, an animal whose meat paid her costs and whose milk added a profit. Judged in this was, Beauty was certainly an improvement on the cattle of previous times and she may fairly have represented the dairy ability of the best Jersey cows of her day, for Colonel Le Couteur says that he "owned four cows that produced above 51 pounds weight of yellow butter per week in the month of May and part of June." Chaanging butter to equivalent butter-fat, these cows produced an average of 10 1/5 pounds of fat a week during five weeks or so in May or June, - very close to Beauty`s figures. If this was all that the most productive cows of the improved breed could do, we may well suspect that the "great quantities of milk and cream" which colonel Le Couteur said were produced by the Old Jersey Cow would amount to little when measured and recorded.
This, then, was about the beginning of the Jersey as a dairy cow. It was not until 1844 that the first reference is found to Jersey cattle exhibited as a separate breed. "It can scarcely be said that the Jersey breed, or rather Channel Islands cattle, except on two or three occasions, had formed a feature at any of our (British) agricultural societies previous to 1871, when the Royal divided the Jerseys from the Guernseys, and the Bath and West of England followed suit a year later. " The American Jersey Herd Book organization was made in March, 1868, but its first publication did not appear until 1871. In 1868 members of the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society divided in opinion as to the desirability of a Jersey Herd Book, with the result that the Society was unwilling to establish such a book. There were, however, "supporters", as they were called, of a herd book program and thesesupporters" elected a Committee to maintain an unofficial, or private Herd Book, - officers of the Society who might desire to assist the Committee being authorized to do so. This state of affairs continued until 1882 when the Society decided thereafter to asussme responsibility for the Jersey Herd Book. "The first public intimation of a desire on the part of English breeders of Jerseys to possess a national Herd-Book of the breed occurred on the occasion of Mr. Simpson`s sale at Wray Park, Reigate, in the spring of 1878, when the late Lord Chesham, speaking from the chair at the luncheon, proposed that breeders should unite to establish one. This suggestion was further considered at the Royal Agricultural Society`s show at Bristol in the same year, and at a meeting held on the showground the preliminaries were arranged. Mr. Thornton was invited to act as honorary treasurer and secretary, and consented to accept those offices in the interest of a committee of Jersey breeders, fomed to bring out the Herd-book by private enterprise. The first volume was issued in March, 1880 .. In July, 1883, an incorporated Society named the English Jersey Cattle Society was established .." In 1882, Jersey cattle became popular in America so that, for a short time, boom prices prevailed and as much as $5.000 was paid for a cow, while prices between $500 and $1.500 for cows and heifers were fairly common.
Colonel Le Couteur`s experience with Jersey cattle is very much like experience which, in the middle of the 19th century, a French breeder, M.J. Rieffel, had with Breton cattle, - a race much like the Jerseys. M. Rieffel`s account of his work was given in a French agricultural paper in 1858 and is reported by Moll and Gayot in their book, La connaissance du boeuf, published in 1860.
The Bretons are an excellent breed, M. Rieffel said, but they are bound to disappear unless they can be improved so as to produce more meat, and he added:
It would without any doubt be simplest and most profitable to keep a dairy whose milk alone would pay all costs. There would then be no need to worry about the conformation of the animals or about the sale of veal calves or about new methods. It is a dream whose delights I have often heard described in a sort of fairy-land.
This is not, however, the world we live in, for with us every animal states its account when it goes to the butcher, where all cattle end, and where the quantity of meat produced takes on increased importance every day. Considering, therefore, what future requirements will be, M. Rieffel said, the Breton race must be improved if it is to survive, and this can be done either by working within the breed, by careful selection of cows and the studied choice of bulls, or by crossing.
Mr. Rieffel says,-
I began by attaching great value to working within the breed, which I did for many years, and three times I thought I had succeeded in producing a strain of Breton cattle having better shape and giving more milk. Nevertheless, the final results compelled me to abandon this method of breeding.
Many persons decidedly prefer working within the breed, but among them all I have met few who have had practical experience in breeding animals and very few who had bred for a definite end and who have pursued this end many years. There are persons who are attached to a breed which has itself become part of a system of cultivation in the country where it is kept. In every canton there can be found a careful farmer who loves his stock and whose animals, in general, are better looking than those of his neighbors. This man has really improved his herd, working within the breed, - but how many generations of men having the talent to do this are nexessary in order to reach a fundamental improvement in the breed? There is a question.
We live too short a time for works which demand so many long years and which involve such present expenses.
I have, therefore, worked by crossing and I have not had to wait long in order to obtain excellent results in the conformation of my cattle, in production of milk and in early maturity. These are surely great advantages; and in all my work, I have only one regret, - that of time lost in trying to work within the breed.
Rise of the Guernsey breed. In 1749, Samuel Bonamy wrote his Short Account of the Island of Guernsey, which was never published but is kept in manuscript form in the British Museum. Of cattle Bonamy says nothing, but he describes the productions of the Island as follows.
The climate is very healthy and temperate both as to heat and cold, by reason of the sea breezes. The weather is not so hot in summer, nor so cold in winter, as in London; and we seldom see any snow here. The soil is very fruitful, producing almost all manner of food for human life in great plenty and perfection. This island is noted for good butter and honey, if not better, at least as good as in any other country. It is supplied with very good water both from springs and rivulets, and there is abundance of fish upon the coast. They gather twice every year from the rocks upon the coast a sea-wrec; which in winter serves to manure their land, and in summer for fuel. This place is noted for a beautiful flower, called the Guernsey lily, because it grows no where else. Dr. Douglas has published an account of it, under the title of Lilium Sarniense. For exportation they have of their own produce (besides other goods from all parts) cider, salt, lobsters, pebble stone, and knit stockings; the last of which generally finds employment for the women and children of the poorest sort. It is remarkable that no venomous creature can live in this island.
There were cattle on the Island in Bonamy`s time, for he reports that Island butter was good, but Bonamy considered the Island cattle not worth mentioning, since they were not produced for export like cider, salt, lobsters, pebble stone and knit stockings. The British Port Books show no receipt in England of cows or heifers shipped from Guernsey before the date of Bonamy`s manuscript. The Customs House Books, however, do show the receipt in England from Guernsey, before this date, of a small number of cattle which - if the figures of the Customs House Books are correct - were probably French animals included in Bonamy`s reference to Island trade in foreign products - the "other goods from all parts."
In the first half of the 19th century, Guernsey cattle were probably not very different from cattle on the Island of Jersey. Mr. Quayle, who made a survey of both Islands in 1815, said of cattle on Guernsey:
As little attention has yet been given to the improvement of the breed of cattle, as in Jersey; no individual has attempted, by the selection of cattle, and breeding from them, to raise its standard, or to attain any particular object. It is, indeed, thought by some attentive observers residing in the island, that in point of size, cattle are diminishing.
Of course, the loss of size mentioned by Mr. Quayle was a serious matter, for, in those days, the meat value of cows was important. The defect was, however, remedied in later years, as appears from the picture of Mr. Le Poidwin`s ox, shown on the following page, which received the prize at the Christmas Show on the Island of Guernsey in 1844 and which gives every evidence of a Shorthorn cross. The beefy tendency seems to have been more favored on Guernsey than on Jersey, for in 1859 it was said the Guernsey cows had been tried on Jersey and "not found to answer owing to a propensity to fatten."
In 1854, Mr. Ferdinand Brock Tupper published his book on The History of Guernsey with a description of its trade, saying nothing, however, of Guernsey cattle. A change in island stock had, however, already begun, for, in 1862, Mr. Ansted said that at this time Guernsey cattle were larger boned "and have probably been improved by some foreign stock." According to the Annual Report of the Royal Jersey Society for 1858, a great number of cattle were at this time bought in the Island of Jersey and imported into Guernsey. The result Mr. Ansted thinks very good, for, estimating the value of native cattle by their production on a well-conducted dairy farm, he cites the record of a farm on the island of Guernsey where the average annual produce of five cows had been 1680 pounds of butter. Changing this figures into the figure for butter-fat, we find that each of these cows produced about 269 pounds of butter-fat in a year, - an amount far below the average production of cows, whether registered or not registered, in AMerican Dairy Herd Improvement Association herds, but perhaps not below the figures of animals whose return to meat production was good.
Even as late as 1880, it appears that Guernsey cattle were of so little importance that the Encyclopaedia Britannica, in describing the Island of Guernsey, made no mention whatever of cattle. As to export trade, the Encyclopaedia said:
While the island does not grow sufficient grain for its own consumption, it has a large export of fruits and other garden produce. Parsnips were formerly one of the principal items, but they are now less extensively cultivated, having been supplanted by potatoes and turnips. Grapes, which were exported to the amount of 50 tons in 1873, are the sources of an increasing trade. Granite is largely shipped at St. Sampson.
Fruits, garden products, potatoes, turnips and granite were, therefore, the only articles which were important in the Guernsey export trade of 1880. The export trade in cattle was not large enough to receive mention at that time. Jersey had, however, developed en excellent export cattle business since the establishment of its Herd Book and so, in 1882, many years after the trade in Jersey cattle had begun and four years after the establishment of the American Guernsey Herd Book, a Herd Book for Guernsey cattle was established on the Island by the Royal Guernsey Agricultural and Horticultural Society.
Jersey and Alderney, therefore, were the pioneers in building up the trade in Island cattle. Guernsey is a late comer in that trade and is much the youngest of all the dairy breeds. Politically speaking, ALderney is but a small island in the Guernsey bailiwick. Commercially speaking, however, and with reference to cattle, the story is very different, for the Guernsey cattle trade began in a small way and, following the path that had been broken by Alderney, the Guernsey farmers were for many years glad to sell their cows as Alderney cows. At the present time, Alderney cattle are registered in the Guernsey Herd Book and the name Alderney is no longer used as a breed name. This, however, is but an achievement of Guernsey cattle dealers and breeders during the last fifty or sixty years. Even at the present time, however, herds of Channel Island cattle are few in Great Britain, where they have long been of little commercial importance. A few Jersey herds are kept on private states for the satisfaction of their owners - many of whom are ladies, - and Guernsey herds can be found chiefly in Cornwall. In other parts of England, a few Guernsey cows are found among many others in commercial herds, but the Shorthorn breed is the great British dairy breed, which the Holstein Breed - or, as it is called in England, the Friesian Breed - follows, but a long way behind.
During all the years of change among Channel Island cattle, importation of breeding stock from England was permitted, and about 1845-1850 a marked alteration in Channel Island cattle appeared, for, when Mr. Lewis F. Allen published his book in 1875, black-and-white was again conspicuous among the recognized colors of Guernsey cattle, along with other dark colors, including the roan color and rounded fom to which Mr. Allen objected on the ground that they "savor of a Shorthorn cross," while a writer in the Journal of the Royal Agricultural SOciety of England commented in 1889 on the red and yellow colors of the Guernsey, which he said were "but little removed from the colours of some of the old Teeswater cattle, the stock from which the modern Shorthorn grew."
The fourth stage in the development of Channel Island cattle came with the reapearance of the colors black and black-andwhite on the Islands about the middle of the 19th century, with increase of size in Island cattle and with the improvement of airy qualities.
The history of the Channel Island breeds during the last hundred and eighty years has, therefore, been marked by an alternate rise and fall of light and of dark colors on Channel Island cattle- light colors being associated in the experience of Island breeders with a small production of rich milk, while dark colors were associated in their experience with a good production of milk, comparatively low in butter-fat. The purpose of such Island breeders as were interested in milk production was probably to unite in one race of cattle the Channel Island inheritance of quality, - so far as quality could be judged in those days, - with the Dutch inheritance of quantity and body size, because in England the ability to lay on flesh when lactation drew to an end was important. Nevertheless the knowledge of the time as to the ways in which producing ability is transmitted was not sufficient to make achievement of these purposes possible, and the result, as has been seen, was an alternating rise and fall of light and of dark colors, of Quality and quantity. When butter-fat percentage was high and cattle were light colored and small, their production was small too. Then, when decline in production had gone so far that, as John Tindall said, "the cost was more than the worship," the breeding process would be reversed. Dutch cattle, or cattle carrying the Dutch inheritance, would be imported, black-and-white would reappear among the colors of Island cattle, the animals would become larger and the quantity of milk produced would go up again, while butter-fat declined until the time would come when once more the process must be reversed - and so the movement would begin again toward "the fawn-and white" with high butter-fat percentage but unfortunately with production low in quantity.
Progress in this way is possible. To lose on one side all that is gained on the other side, in the end, merely to stand still. Nevertheless, the purpose which all this time Island breeders had in mind was a thoroughly sound, feasible purpose, and, if discarding entirely the idea of beef production, concentrating their attenton on the dairy qualities of their cattle and instead of mating colors and type, they had mated high transmitting ability to high transmitting ability, success would have been in their grasp. Their object should have been to breed a race of cows yielding in large quantity milk of a high quality. With this object in view, they mated Dutch cattle and Island cattle, as recently, in the well-known case of the Bowlker herd, Holstein-Friesians were mated with Guernseys. Pedigrees of this old Island breeding, could any how be made, would show intermixtures of all possible colors - black-and-white with brown and with brindle and with yellowand-white, - everything was there except the combination of productive qualities which Island breeders wanted. It would have been, then, but a single forward step - it now seems an obvious, almost a necessary step - to select breeding stock not by colors or breed, but according to their individual excellence for the purpose which it was desired to accomplish - bulls by the dairy qualities of their offspring, and cows by their offspring as well as by their own producing ablity. Many breeders of Guernseys and Jerseys during the last ten years have been influenced by the principles of the progeny test, and some breeders of Channel Island cattle have judged the value of their bulls by bull indexes. There are great production inheritances among Channel Island cattle, and systematic breeding to bring these inheritances together would hold out promise of producing an excellent race of dairy cattle.
Such an elaborate study of purely fictitious history as has been made in this chapter, in order by prolonged and careful search of historical records to disprove statements for which no evidence is offered, will seem to many readers a wholly unnecessary labor.It is sure incredible that men could have believed the stories of shipments of precious foundation stock from "the small fishing village of Dielette"; of the inspired breeders on the islands who during many centuries refused to admit cattle from the outside world and kept always before their eyes an ideal conception of improving their domestic cattle; of the self-denial with which men who suffered from lack of food for themselves and their families, nevertheless always provided for their cattle the food necessary to maintain to maintain the breed; and of the patience with which men in remote islands guarded their treasure until its value was first known to the world in the 18th century. Buckle, inspeaking of the superstitions of the Middle Ages, says that literature during many generations, instead of benefiting society, injured it by increasing credulity. "Indeed", he says, "the aptitude for falsehood became so great that there was nothing men were unwilling to believe."
Those days of superstition we may hope are gone forever. Even in England, where the "pure-bred" notion was for long unquestioned, we find a demand rising for "Scientific metholds of animal breeding." It is likely, therefore, that before long this chapter will be of value chiefly as the record of an extraordinary vagary of the human mind.
The fact is that the progeny test has already been accepted by intelligent breeders of cattle as an essential instrument of progress, and that with the use of this test the pure-bred notion must disappear.