Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New Reference to Wild White Cattle & Some Cool Old Prints of White Cows................

"Similarly the 'wild white' cattle of the English parks are not true whites, for small portions about the eyes, ears, legs are coloured either black or red.  It is an historical fact that these cattle have occasionally thrown black and red calves, and, within recent years, two which had black "points" and were confined in the London Zoological Gardens, actually threw black calves."   A Manual of Mendelism, 1916, James Wilson, P.53
"Chillingham . . . present park keeper destroyed them since which period there has not been one with black ears.   It is believed that Culley's celebrated Shorthorns at the beginning of this century were bred by a cross secretly obtained with a Chillingham wild bull, and Bewick in his work just mentioned remarks, "Tame cows in season are frequently turned out amongst the wild cattle at Chillingham.""  The Complete Grazier........, 1893, William Youatt, P. 9

"In 1876 Lord Tankerville, with the object of testing the theory enunciated by the Rev John Storer, author of The Wild White Cattle of Great Britain that Shorthorns probably had their origin in the wild herds of the country, tried to effect a cross between a wild bull and some well bred Shorthorn cows.  The finest produce of these were some very fine animals exhibited at the Royal Agricultural Society's Show at Kilburn in 1879, but as they did not come up to his Lordship's expectations the plan was abandoned until 1888.   In the latter year Lord Tankerville tried the alternative of a cross between a Shorthorn bull and a wild cow and magnificent specimens of the result may be seen in the paddocks at Chillingham.The Complete Grazier...., 1893, William Youatt, P. 10
"Since the beginning of the 19th century, Shorthorn breeders have disliked white. . . .Thus white has been much less frequently bred from, yet whites have not decidedly decreased, for the reason that they are still thrown when roans are mated with each other.  Reds are thrown from the same matings, but, being not unwelcome, there appearance occasions no remark.  Breeders have been aware that there were whites among the ancestry of their breed, but, by breeding from reds and roans only, have hoped to eliminate the "reversionary white" (quotes are Wilson's) taint and eventually have their roans breeding true.  In this, however, they have never succeeded."  A Manual of Mendelism, 1916, Wilson, P. 64.
Kleberg of the King Ranch, the Rev. Storer, the New York Zoological Society -- all were of the opinion that the ancient Park Cattle were the ancestor of the Shorthorn . . .  As well, check out the Hungarian White Cow, her horns are very reminescent of the English and Texas Longhorn.................

1856, LONDON/SOCIETY: No 1. Mr. Heath’s Hereford ox (Class 5), first prize £25. 2. Mr. Herbert’s Hereford cow (Class 8), first prize £20. 3. Mr. Stratton’s shorthorn cow (Class 12), first prize £20. 4. Mr. Naylor’s Hereford ox (Class 6), first prize £25. 5. Mr. Stratton’s white shorthorn ox (Class 10), first prize £25. 6. Mr. Heath’s Gold Medal Devon (Class 2), First prize £25. 7. Mr. Fouracre’s Devon (Class 1), first prize £25. 8. Duke of Beaufort’s shorthorn ox (Class 9), first prize £25. 9. Mr. Ford’s Devon cow (Class 4), first prize £20.

1856 Illustration, London News: Caption: Hungarian white cow and calf; Kerry cow; Bretonne cow; Ayrshire cow

1890 La Vache Blanche - The White Cow by Constant Troyon

1867  Short Horn Bull, "Monitor 5019" , 5 years old, owned by H G White, South Framingham, Mass.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Snow in Southeast Texas! Second Year in a Row!

This was taken after the snow had been falling for a while and getting thicker.  This group of British White girls had left the hay ring to perhaps find their way to somewhere where this wierd white stuff wasn't falling from the sky!  They continued to move as a group around their pasture as the snow swirled and and the air grew whiter with really fat and pretty flakes. 

This is Diamond C's Porsche, came all the way from drought-stricken Smithville for some Southeast Texas snow, she doesn't look real pleased!  But we are sure pleased with her.  She's a very well made, beautiful American Fullblood heifer.  Her sire is J.West's Mazarati, her grandsire DFTX "Doc'" Watson.  Her dam is J.West's Lucy Girl, sired by King Cole, and her granddam is J.West's Lucy Lelora, sired by Halliburton Colonel.

My heifer herd, and also a couple of cows, at the hay ring when the snow began to fall................

A photo from the week before of the same herd, at the same hay ring.........what a contrast! and I love the Fall color I see every year to the north on this tree line.

Bronx Zoo Art Exhibition- Reference to Park Cattle on January 15, 1942 in the NY Times

New York Times, Published: January 15, 1942, Found at this LINK




The article makes specific mention of drawings of "park cattle" of England.  At this point in time, both the polled and horned varieties of the cattle were, and had been for many years, referenced as Park Cattle and  breed records were maintained by the Park Cattle Society in England.

There are many anecdotal comments to be found in breed histories about a group of Park Cattle being transported to the USA and/or Canada prior to the outbreak of WWII.  This is believed to have been an effort to preserve the genetics of the breed, should acts of war destroy the few existing herds in the United Kingdom.

There are two artists referenced in the article:  Australian born, Miss Mary Cecil Allen (1893-1962) and Miss Rhys Caparn (1909-1997).  Both artists were highly respected and it is certanly possible that the drawings and sculptures shown in this exhibit still exist today.  The drawings, sculpture, and possibly photographs of this exhibit would be invaluable in establishing the breed type of the Park Cattle that were housed by the Bronx Zoo.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What is a Speckle Park?

The Speckle Park breed is growing in numbers and appreciation for the superior qualities they bring to seedstock breeders and commercial cattlemen in Canada, Australia, and the USA.  Today there are more than 70 members and 3000 registered cows in Canada alone. 
British White Cow, American Fullblood, Overmarked

When one reads the description of this breed and views photos of examples of the breed, you could just as easily be reading a description of the polled British White cattle breed, with the exception of color standards.  This breed embraces both the overmarked (linebacked), the roan (leopard) type, as well as the white Speckled Park.  In the British White breed we see all three types born in our herds, but focus on the white type, rather than breeding for a predominance of line-backed cattle.  The photos you see here are of British White cattle exhibiting the same color patterns of the Speckle Park breed.  With the exception of the example of the 'leopard' or 'roan' hair coat, all pictured are American Fullblood British Whites.  The roan example is a 2nd Gen purebred heifer named Bluebell.  She calved a snow white, perfectly marked heifer calf this spring, and I don't expect to see the roan pattern occur again in the offspring of this new 3rd Gen Purebred heifer.

The Speckle Park breed was formally recognized as a Purebreed by the Canadian Minister of Agriculture only as recent as 2006.  In the preceding many years, the breed's owners were hard at work "stabilizing, refining, and perfecting the breed", and thus establishing seedstock that will breed true to type for those qualities important to the survival of all cattle breeds - superior confirmation and carcass quality.  The docile nature and maternal excellence of the foundation seedstock was undoubtedly not difficult to perpetuate, as those traits are highly heritable in the polled British White, once known as the polled Park, or polled White Park. 

The following is excerpted from the very well written description of the traits of the Speckle Park cattle breed found at this link :

British White Heifer, Purebred,   Roan Markings
Overmarked  AF British White Cow w/Standard Marked Heifer
Speckle Park cattle come in a variety of color patterns. They are predominantly black with white top line and underline, with speckled hips and sometimes shoulders and with a black or black roan face. The second color pattern is the leopard pattern. It is similar to the speckled pattern but there are definite black spots on the animal instead of just speckles. The white animals with some black hair on the body are considered 'leopards'.
British White Bull, J.West's Big Mac
The third color pattern is the 'white' pattern. The white animals have white hair on the body and face but have black points. i.e. eyes, ears, nose, and hooves. The fourth is solid black. There is a very small percentage of blacks but they do crop up from time to time. The solid black heifers are registrable and can be used in the purebred herd, but the bulls can not.

FERTILE, Hardy, & Healthy

With their fine skin and hair in summer and a quick to 'slick off' hair coat, Speckle Parks adapt well to the Canadian summers as well as being able to 'coat up' when needed for their notoriously cold winters. They are tough, real tough, you can throw any harsh climatic situation at them and they survive, get back in calf, rear a good one, yet are so easy to feed and come back in condition quickly after hard times, traits that will stand them in good stead in Australian's harsh environment. 

High Quality Carcass

In Canada butchers and meat graders are very impressed with the consistently high quality of the Speckle Park carcass. It isn't uncommon to get an exceptionally good carcass from any breed, but what is IMPRESSIVE is when the carcass from a particular breed is consistently good. That is the case with the Speckle Park. Another IMPRESSIVE fact about the Speckle Park is their UNIQUE ability of being able to achieve a AAA carcass without excess outer fat cover. Most breeds are able at achieve AAA carcass but often at the expense of excess outer fat. Speckle Park can achieve a AAA carcass with minimal fat cover, thus grading YG1-AAA.

Docile Nature

The key to more weight gain and less stress on man and beast. Are you sick of being kicked from pillar to post and pushed around the yards when you should be doing the pushing?

Speckle Parks are very docile animals. Their gentle disposition makes them a pleasure to work with. Accidents while working with cattle are almost unheard of among Speckle Park breeders. A well known fact in Canada.

Speckle Park animals are becoming a popular choice of 4-H beef members (Junior Breeders) throughout Canada. Their moderate size and quiet disposition make them manageable by even the youngest 4-H members. It is unbelievable how easily some of them halter break. As one 4-H member put it, "They almost halter break themselves."

Calving Ease and Good Maternal Instinct

Speckle Park rarely experience difficulty calving. The small front shoulders of the newborn calf make for calving ease. The calves come into the world at approximately 35kg. and are very vigorous at birth. Most newborns are up and sucking in minutes.

Cattlemen world wide know that a great deal of time and expense is saved and the bottom line is greatly enhanced by breeding cattle that can calve unassisted. It isn't uncommon in today's society to see the wife caring for the cattle while the husband works off the farm to supplement farm income. Speckle Parks are a wise choice for farmers in this situation. The calves weigh a fraction of the weight of those of the exotic breeds and a lot less than most other British bred cattle. Almost all Speckle Park cows, even the heifers, calve unassisted.

Speckle Parks are a docile breed, the cows are very maternal when it comes to caring for their young. They have good udders, with many people commenting on their great udder, teat shape and length of teats. They turn off sappy well grown calves from a young age.

American Fullblood British White Bull
Commercial breeders are finding Speckle Park bulls a wise choice for breeding heifers. They not only decrease the size of the newborn calf and increase calving ease but also increase the quality of the resulting carcass.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Deer Season in East Texas - Hunting is Much Changed from its Origins - and Check out our East Texas BobCats

It's offcially hunting season in Texas, and the modern day deer hunters are stalking their seasonal prey. Hunting these days bears little reflection to the hunting methods of old.  The photos in this blog were taken by a motion activated camera set deep in the woods.  Either corn or a mineral lick were the attraction for the deer and they cooperated quite well, with numerous shots of them moving through the area.  Also of interest were the large numbers of coyote, and three different bobcats (see a Bobcat photo below).  While the intent of the camera is to determine when the deer can be found at a particular time of day and place for convenient shooting, the photos for the naturalist type are of great interest.  Seeing the East Texas woods alive with its native animals is well worth the effort, and one of the better benefits of modern hunting methods. 

The following excerpt makes reference to the style of the hunt for deer and other wildlife in medieval times when the success of the hunt was paramount to survival.  While today's hunters largely hunt for sport, there are definitely many hunters in East Texas who still hunt to fill their freezers with much needed meat for their families through the coming year.  It is those hunters who need it most for food that largely have the least opportunity to hunt.  In that respect today's costly deer leases serve to provide meat and sport to those who least need the meat.

Excerpts from Harting, "British Aninmals Extinct Within Historic Times...", c. 1880 :

". . .will here be content with quoting the following remarks of Mr. Earle in his edition of the Saxon Chronicle. " Now-a-days," he says, "men hunt for exercise and sport, but then they hunted for food, or for the luxury of fresh meat. Now the flight of the beast is the condition of a good hunt, but in those days it entailed disappointment. They had neither the means of giving chase or of killing them at a distance, so they used stratagem to bring the game within the reach of their missiles."

"A labyrinth of alleys was penned out at a convenient part of the wood, and here the archers lay under covert. The hunt began by sending men round to break and beat the wood, and drive the game with dogs and horns into the ambuscade. The pen is the haia (1) so frequently occurring amongst the silvae (2) of Domesday."

"Horns were used, not, as with us, to call the dogs, or, as in France, to signal the stray sportsman; but to scare the game. In fact it was the battue (3) which is now, under altered circumstances, discountenanced by the authorities of the chase, but which, in early times, was the only way for man to cope with the beasts of the field.""

These days the East Texas woods have entirely too many 'beasts' of the coyote type.  They are quite bold, and most old-timers will tell you they are much bigger in stature now and bolder than in their earlier memories. 

In England it was the wolf that was a threat to other wildlife.  "In the Forest Laws of Canute promulgated in 1016 the Wolf is thus expressly mentioned:  As for foxes and wolves they are neither reckoned as beasts of the forest or of venery and therefore whoever kills any of them is out of all danger of forfeiture or making any recompense or amends for the same. Nevertheless, the killing of them within the limits of the forest is a breach of the royal chase and therefore the offender shall yield a recompense for the same, though it be but easy and gentle." Harting, 1880.

The wolf was hunted to extinction in England by the time of Henry VII, sometime between 1485 - 1509.  "The old books on hunting state that the season for hunting the Wolf was between the 25th of December and the 25th of March.  This of course was only so long as Wolf hunting was an amusement and a royal sport.  As soon as it became a necessity and a price was set on the animal's head, it was killed whenever and wherever it could be found.  ". . .during the reign of Henry VII it is probable that the Wolf became finally extirpated in England.  Although for nearly two centuries later . . . it continued to hold out against its persecutors in Scotland and Ireland."  Harting, 1880.

(1) Hay Latin, haia. Haia, sometimes rendered as hay, is translated as both 'enclosure' and 'hedged enclosure' in the Phillimore edition. The term is first recorded in Domesday Book. The haia was an enclosure formed by a hedge of trees, designed to trap or corral wild animals, usually deer, during the hunt. A number of Domesday entries refer to the enclosures 'where wild animals were caught' (eg, WOR 18,4), others to enclosures where the animals were kept (HEF29,11).
(2) Silvae, the word means woods or thicket, and implies unpruned luxuriance of growth.
(3) Battue, an old term referring to using people or dogs to drive animals from the woods.