The Alderney Breed of Cattle
Edited by J. Coleman. 1875
The Cattle of great Britain being a Series of Articles on the various breeds of cattle of the United Kingdom, their history, management, &c. Edited by J. Coleman. Editor of the farm department of "The Field", and formerly professor of Agriculture of the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. Illustrated with full page engravings drawn principally from life by Harrison Weir. London. "The Field" office, 346, Strand. 1875.
Chapter XIX. The Alderney Breed of Cattle. By an amateur breeder.
The Channel Island breed of cattle, popular known in this country as "Alderneys", consist of two classes of the same breed. The Guernsey is the larger of the two, usually of a light fawn colour, patched with white. The Jersey class is smaller, and the colour to which more attention has been paid is a dark or, as the Scottish say, "dun" deer, and is popular in England, no doubt in consequence of its more aristocratic appearance. The Alderney is essentially a cream-and-butterproducing breed, giving more milk and of richer quality in proportion to its size than any other cow; the best have been known to give from 10lb. to 14lb. per week. This merit gives them their place in live stock, either for dairies near fashionable towns like Brighton, or as cows for the park and the villa paddock, combining in the highest degree utility and ornament. The dairies of great cities are chiefly supplied by cows of the Dutch or the Shorthorn cross, which give large quantities of comraratively poor milk, and when dry fatten easily for the butcher. This is not the place of the Alderney, which, in England at any rate, is essentially the gentleman`s cow.
Writers on the subject, copying one another, asume that, because the Channel Islands were once a dependency of Normandy, the Alderneys are an offshoot of the Normandy breed; but few breeds could have less resemblance. It has also been suggested that they are on offshoot of another good dairy tribe, the Ayrshires; but Ayrshires are much more like a small shorthorn cultivated for milking purposes. At the great International Exhibition of live stock in Paris in 1855, where nearly all the ox tribes of Europe were represented, the late Fisher Hobbs, of Boxted Lodge, Essex, a very good judge, came to the conclusion that the true ancestors of the Ayrshires were Danish, and that the Alderneys were more probably descended from some Swiss mountain breeds, of which many specimens were there exhibited - dark and light fawn in colour, and fine in head and horns.
At the present time there is no doubt that in England, where the principles of selection have so long been successfully applied to horn stock and sheep, finer specimens of the Alderney have been produced than in their native islands.
For many years the farmers of the Channel Islands, while sternly prohibiting any importation of bulls, have made the rearing of heifers for the English market a profitable part of their business; but it is only within a comparatively recent period that they have learned from English breeder the advantages to be derived from a careful selection in obtaining symmetry as well as milk.
Amongst English breeders who have known what could be done towards obtaining the best points of a milking cow by applying Bakewellian principles of selection, mr. Philip Dauncey, of Hoorwood, nearly Winslow, Bucks, occupies, or rather occupied, the most distinguished position. For nearly half a century he devoted his attention to obtaining great milking qualities, symmetry, constitution, and a uniform fawn colour without white. His success placed him at least half a century in advance of the Channel Islanders. When in 1867 Mr. Dauncey retired from stock farming in consequence of his advanced age, his sixty-nine cows and heifers produced 3285 l. Mr. Majoribanks gave over one hundred pounds for his cow "Landscape", and Mr. Walter Gilbey just under that sum for the heifer "Ban".
Mr. Dauncey produced a breed much more hardy than the original Channel Islanders; his stock lying out on the pastures throughout the year. The imported Alderneys are delicate, and, on first introduction, require slight shelter in the cold weather, but they soon afterwards become acclimatised.
A decided improvement has taken place in Alderneys since 1833. The Jersey Agricultural Society was founded in that year under the presidency of General Thornton, the LiutenantGovenor. The council of the Society drew up a scale of points from the examination of the best specimens of the animals of the animals then in the island, thirty points being assumed to constitute perfection. Some years later, this table was revised and settled as follows:
Scale of points for bulls.
|Article|| || points|
| 1. || Head, fine and tapering || 1|
| 2. || Forehead, broad|| 1|
| 3. || Cheek, small|| 1|
| 4. || Throat, clean|| 1|
| 5. || Muzzle, fine, and encircled by a light colour|| 1|
| 6. || Nostrile, high and open|| 1|
| 7. || Horns, smooth, crumpled, not too thick at the base, and |
tapering, tipped with black
| 8. || Ears, small and thin|| 1|
| 9. || Ears, of a deep orange colour within|| 1|
| 10. || Eyes, full and lively|| 1|
| 11. || Neck, arched, powerful, but not too coarse and heavy|| 1|
| 12. || Chest, broad and deep|| 1|
| 13. || Barrel, hooped, broad and deep|| 1|
| 14. || Well ribbed home, having but little space between the |
last rib and the hip
| 15. || Back, straight from the withers to the top of the hip || 1|
| 16. || Back, straght from the top of the hip to the setting |
on of the tail at right angles with the back
| 17. || Tail, fine|| 1|
| 18. || Tail, hanging down to the hocks|| 1|
| 19. || Hide, mellow and movable, but not too loose|| 1|
| 20. || Hide, covered with fine soft hair|| 1|
| 21. || Hide, of good colour|| 1|
| 22. || Fore legs, short and straight|| 1|
| 23. || Fore-arms, large and powerful, swelling, and full |
above the knee, and fine below it
| 24. || Hind quarters, from the hock to the point of the rump, |
long and well filled up
| 25. || Hind legs, short and straight (below the hocks), and |
bones rather fine
| 26. || Hind legs, squarely placed, and not too near together |
when viewed from behind
| 27.|| Hind legs, not to cross in walking|| 1|
| 28. || Hoofs, small|| 1|
| 29. || Growth|| 1|
| 30. || General appearance|| 1|
| 31. || Condition|| 1|
| || Perfection.............................|| 31|
No prize shall be awarded to bulls having less than 25 points.
Bulls having obtained 23 points shall be allowed to be branded, but cannot take a prize.
Scale of points for cows and heifers.
|Article|| || points|
| 1. || Head, small, fine and tapering|| 1|
| 2. || Cheek, small|| 1|
| 3. || Throat, clean|| 1|
| 4. || Muzzle, fine, and encircled by a light colour|| 1|
| 5. || Nostrils, high and open|| 1|
| 6. || Horns, smooth, crumpled, not thick at the base, and |
| 7. || Ears, small and thin|| 1|
| 8. || Ears, of a deep orange colour within|| 1|
| 9. || Eye, full and placid|| 1|
| 10.|| Neck straight, fine and placed lightly on the |
| 11.|| Chest, broad and deep|| 1|
| 12.|| Barrel hooped, broad, and deep|| 1|
| 13.|| Well ribbed home, having but little space between the |
last rib and the hib
| 14.|| Back, straight from the withers to the top of the hip|| 1|
| 15.|| Back, straight from the top of the hip to the setting |
on of the tail, and the tail at right angles with the
| 16.|| Tail fine|| 1|
| 17.|| Tail, hanging down to the hocks|| 1|
| 18.|| Hide, thin and movable, but not too loose|| 1|
| 19.|| Hide, covered with fine soft hair|| 1|
| 20.|| Hide, of good colour|| 1|
| 21.|| Fore legs, short, straight, and fine|| 1|
| 22.|| Fore-arm, swelling, and full above the knee|| 1|
| 23.|| Hind quarters, from the hock to the points of the rump, |
long and well filled up
| 24.|| Hind legs, short and straight (below the hocks), and |
bones rather fine
| 25.|| Hind legs, squarely placed, not too close together when viewed from behind|| 1|
| 26.|| Hind legs, not to cross in walking|| 1|
| 27.|| Hoofs small|| 1|
| 28.|| Udder full in form -i.e., well in line with the belly|| 1|
| 29.|| Udder, well up behind|| 1|
| 30.|| Teats, large and squarely placed, behind wide apart|| 1|
| 31.|| Milk-veins, very prominent|| 1|
| 32.|| Growth|| 1|
| 33.|| General appearance|| 1|
| 34. || Condition|| 1|
| || Perfection............................ || 34 |
No prize shall be awarded to cows having less than 29 points.
No prize shall be awarded to heifers having less than 26 points.
Cows having obtained 27 points, and heifers 24 points, shall be allowed to be branded, but cannot take a prize.
Three points -viz.Nos. 28,29 and 31 -shall be deducted from the number required for perfection in heifers, as their udder and milk-veins cannot be fully developed; a heifer will therefore be considered perfect at 30 points.
In 1866 the Jersey Herd Book was started, and in 1868 the Committee of the Royal Agricultural Society of Jersey called attention in a report to the advantageous results of careful breeding as practised by Mr. Dauncey and others in this country. In a subsequent report in December, 1871, the Committee acknowledged a yearly grant from the State of Jersey of 50 l, to be applied solely premiums for bulls, to check the exportation of good animals from the island.
In England, wholecoloured Alderneys, whether dark or light fawn, are decidedly the most esteemed. We believe justly so, and in corroboration of this view we quote from an article by Gisborne in the "Quarterly Review" of 1849 and 1850:
"With few exceptions, quadrupeds in a state of nature are self-coloured; and we are not aware of any wild animal whose colours are patchy or glaring. The British wild cattle are of a dingy white with tanwny ears. The cattle of mountainous countries, which have been very inaccessible to agriculture, are always of selfcolours, black, red and dun. The queer little cow, which within the memory of man had a pure existence in Normandy and the Channel Islands, and which, being celebrated for the richness of its milk, came to our markets under the name of an ALderney, was fawn colour with tawny ears."
Amongst the herds maintained purely for profit, Mr. Dumbrill`s, of Ditchling, near Brighton, is one of the most remarkable. Mr. Dumbrill, who has always adhered to the Jersey breed, keeps one hundred cows, divided into herds of twentyfive each, for the purpose of supplying his wealthy neighbours with butter and cream. In the Brighton market, during the two seasons, there is a demand for the very best of everything in the way of eating without regard to price. In APril, 1862, Mr. Sumbrill read before the London Farmers`Club a paper on "Dairy Management", containing practical information of great value to the owners of either trade or fancy dairies.
Another breeder of Alderneys, who bears a name almost classical in the history of agriculture, is Mr. C.H. Bakewell, of Quorndon, near Derby, who has a small but select herd, and which is managed in a profitable manner. His average annual return has been from 220 lb. to 240 lb. of butter per cow.
This country is well off breeds of meat-producing beasts, as clearly shown by the articles on Shorthorns, Herefords, Devons, Longhorns, and others. To breed Alderneys with success, in may opinion, no attempt should be made to combine meatproducing with milk-producing qualities. The Alderney breeder, therefore, must be satisfied with an animal almost equal in elegance to a deer, rich in cream, and bountiful in butter of the finest quality. All, however, do not think alike, and an attempt is now being made in a fine herd near London to attain this object.
No doubt one great drawback to the Alderney as a gentleman`s cow is that when barren it is often impossible to fatten her, causing thereby considerable loss.
But from this herd last year a cow which had been milked for two years was after three months` feeding, sold in Watford Market by auction for 26 l 10 s to the butcher; and it remains to be proved whether or not this is an exceptional case.
Heifers kept until three years old before breeding will be larger in frame, but the gain in size is obtained at a sacrifice of dairy qualities, and with increased difficulty in getting them to breed. Alderney heifers should be so managed as to calve at not later than two years and a half old.
Most of the agricultural societies are now offering prizes for Channel Island cattle. The Royal Agricultural Society have recently made classes for both the Jersey and the Guernsey, on the principle that judges who prefer the one may not do justice to the other. This arrangement will, it is to be feared, make the entries in each class very small, particularly so in the Guernsey class, as in this country Guernseys are not numerous. The Bath and West of England Society has of late years secured very good entries for its Alderney classes; and amongst local shows, Essex has been successful in cultivating this truly elegant breed, stimulated perhaps by one or two local breeders, of whom the most successful exhibitor for the past few years, and particularly last year, was Mr. Walter Gilbey, whose bull "Banboy" took first honours at the Royal Agricultural Show, Bath and West of England Show, and the Essex Show at Romford, where also his cows "Duchess" and "Milkmadid" were equally successful.
We may add that the Messrs. Fowler of Bushey and Watford, Herts, and Southampton have been the importers into this country of this highly appreciated breed of cattle for nearly a century.
[Wi think the above arrangement as to points judicious in most respects, but doubt if sufficient points are bestowed upon what may be called the local indications of milk. Thus, a larger udder is most important; but there may be this, and yet no great milk-giving powers. If is necessary not only to be large, but supple, capable of shrinking and wrinkling up after milking, when it should handle soft, flabby, and be much shrunk and wrinkled. The greater the difference between a full and empty bag the better. A fleshy or greasy udder is of uniform texture and firm, resists pressure, and scarcely lessens after milking, and such should be rejected. The same importance is given to the shape, size, and position of the teats as to the form of the udder and prominence of the milk veins. Now, as far as produce goes - putting uniformity and beauty on one side - the shape and size of the teats do not indicate very distinctly; and although, as a general rule, large milk supply is accompanied by large teats standing well out, yet exceptions are by no means uncommon. We cannot agree with "An Amateur Breeder" in his apprehensions that separating the Channel Islands into two classes - which is now done at Bath, the Royal, and Bath and West of England Shows - will be prejudical to a good entry. On the contrary, by insuring merit a fair chance of appreciation, we look forward to having these interesting classes better supported than has hitherto been the case. --Editor]
Another authority writes:
"The only thing required in the engravings after Harrison Weir`s excellent drawings is some scale by which to form an estimate of their size, and, though admirable as drawings of cattle, they do not give me a correct notion of the breed. I speak from experience, as I have imported several, and purchased others from the vessel as they landed, and I now possess three undoubted and superior specimens.
"The old breed of Alderney cattle was, I was told, black and white; but when I was a resident (at the time the Prince of Wales was born) there was not one of that colour on the island. The majority were yellow, or yellow and white, sometimes running into fawn, nor do I remember any other colours. The inhabitants insisted on white hoofs and a heart in the forehead, with short horns (alike in size and spread), the large, full, calm eye, and general straightness and symmetry. Ten were shipped for Her Majesty just before I arrived in Alderney by Mr. Gaudion, the judge of the island, and they cost an average 10 l. each. The principal points regarded by Mr. Gaudion were those I have named, and the yellow or buttery quality of the inside of the ear; I think he also preferred the white nose and muzzle. Since that time the stud has doubled in value, and I myslef paid 20 guineas adn 17 l. for two two-yearold in-calf heifers this spring. I purchased these at the Bear Inn, Wymouth, where they arrive, from twenty to thirty at a time, by the Monday steamers.
"They are usually known as "Normans" in Hampshire, and hundreds of precisely the same description may be seen browsing in the New Forest, whence they are frequently purchased by unprincipled dealers, after being trained to lead in a halter, washed with soft soap, their horns rasped, scraped, and sandpapered, after which they are distributed about the country. I have more than once seen a labourer thus training a Forest cow for sale.
"The ALderney cow is invariably an excellent butter cow, and, though frequently delicate the first year, and requiring care after first calving, she becomes subsequently inured to our climate. Even heifers require milking in some cases before they calve, to prevent milk fever, but calves dropped in this country are hardy from the first. The cow in full milk will give as much as 12lb of butter a week, and Inglis says as much as 14lb; but Mr. Gaudion, who tried the milk by the side of Devons, told me that the latter gave more butter in proportion to the milk. The produce is of a rich golden hue, and it is a common thing with our dairy farmers to keep one or two to "stain the dairy", as high coloured butter commands a sale.
"Of late there has been a great demand for mouse or slate-coloured Alderneys, and they rule at fancy prices. The more dwarfed they are, the better they are liked, and they answer well for paddocks or small pastures, as they never roam or break fences; they may be led or tethered, and they eat no more, or not much more, than a goat. They also do well on garden waste, bran, and cotton cake, or what is called "hand feeding", and the skim milk is far better than ordinary milk or the London "sky blue;" but the butter is too rich for some persons, nor does it keep so well as that obtained from ordinary cows.
"The Alderney becomes less sightly as it reaches maturity or declines with age. It is most pleasing to the eye as a yearling or two-year-old. The bulls are soon too mischievous to roam at large, but they retain their beauty to the last; whilst the female, especially if a productive milcher, becomes thin, spectral, and misshapen."