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The low prices obtained in 1907 are explained by the financial panic, which toward the close of that year had brought the live-stock market to its lowest ebb. It may be mentioned that the extreme. range of the prices at the above sales was $6.60 to $17 in 1906, $5.65 to $8 in 1907, and $7.20 to $13 in 1908. The unusually large range in 1906 is explained by the fact that a fancy price was paid for the grand champion load that year, while in 1907 current market prices prevailed owing to the financial depression, and in 1908, although the grand champion load only brought $11, the champion yearlings were bid up to $13.
It will be seen that in general the highest prices were secured by the three medium-weight classes ranging from 1,100 to 1,400 pounds. In 1906 the high figures continued up to 1,600 pounds, caused, however, by special prices paid for champion loads.
Carload lots comprising 15 animals per carload is one of the innovations introduced at the big shows in order to comply with the practical conditions under which the stockman works. The remarkable growth of this section indicates that its practical features have effected considerable improvement over previous methods and have helped to produce a better class of market stock.
A carload of fat cattle, although judged as a unit, is composed of a collection of units. While it may be a comparatively easy matter to feed a single animal so as to develop in it the highest qualities demanded by the market, it is an entirely different proposition to develop that same standard of excellence uniformly in a number of animals. There are four main features which always characterize a high-class carload exhibit of fat stock, namely, (1) finish, (2) type, (3) breeding, (4) uniformity. Each of these will be briefly discussed:
From the market point of view, finish is the most necessary qualification to win honors in the show ring, because it is the most essential from the butcher's point of view; thus animals possessing it bring the highest price on the open competitive market. It is necessary to use the hands as well as the eye in order to determine fully the comparative merits of the various exhibits regarding this quality. An animal may have been fed beyond the point of full bloom that constitutes an ideal finished condition, in which case it has become soft; or it may not have been developed up to that point, in which case it would be too firm, a condition which is equally undesirable. The tendency of the average run of stock on the market, especially cattle and sheep, is generally in the latter direction.
Type refers principally to the relative form and proportion of parts, or, in other words, to the conformation of the animal; however, broadly speaking, it includes quality, which is recognized as one of the necessary attributes of the highest type of meat-producing animal. Curtiss, speaking of type as an individual rather than a breed characteristic, describes it as follows:
These animals, though representing different breeds, present that compactness of form, thickness, and substance, together with superior finish and quality, coupled with an inherent aptitude to lay on flesh thickly and evenly, that always characterizes the beef animal of outstanding merit.
One of the objects of live-stock expositions is to harmonize the ideas of producers, especially in the development of type, and thereby to encourage improvement solely with a view to profit. There is always a general tendency for breeders to diverge from a uniform standard. Many of them follow the dictates of their own desires in an endeavor to establish types to suit their own fancy. Too often in the past it has been true that the perpetuation of breed or family characteristics of minor importance have been deemed of more value than type. Breeders of unimproved stock have kept on breeding with almost entire disregard to an accepted standard of type, or at least without any lucid idea concerning the essential characteristics that compose it. The markets recognize but one type of animal as the most profitable for meat production, and prices are determined according to the degree with which they approach this type, other conditions being equal. There exists, therefore, a direct relation between the type of the various meat-producing animals and their value. While perfection in type may perhaps never be attained, a more or less near approach to it will be seen in all prize-winning exhibits. It is interesting to note also how on the one hand animals of different breeds will resemble each other in this respect, and on the other hand what a wide difference in type may exist between animals within the same breed.
A study of type in the carload lots is perhaps more instructive and useful than any other feature of stock shows, owing to the practical nature of this part of the exhibits. Cattle, for example, are fed under practical conditions and judged on their utility for slaughter, the merits of this judging being further verified by their sale at auction. The addition of a class at the International in which the same cattle are shown as feeders one year and as fat cattle the next year affords a practical demonstration of real merit in which the value of type plays a prominent part.
Breeding in an animal is much the same as in human beings, namely, it implies an ancestry from which some characteristics have
been inherited which are superior to those found in ordinary individuals. Good breeding, or improved breeding, is the result of years of careful, systematic work in the selection of breeding stock with a definite purpose of intensifying and perpetuating certain superior qualities and characteristics. When these characteristics have become firmly established the result generally is a new breed. An animal need not be purebred, however, in order to show good breeding. Owing to the prepotency of purebred sires, grades are often produced which possess all the superior points of excellence of purebred animals. A notable example of this was Roan King, the grand champion of the 1907 International. This steer was by a well-known Shorthorn sire out of a common cow of no particular breeding, yet Roan King inherited from his sire all the best characteristics of the Shorthorn blood.
An equally strong example of good breeding is found in the range exhibits, where the continued use of purebred sires has brought about a remarkable transformation. The former long-horned range steer has been changed to an animal that now rivals the purebred stock of the eastern farm for championship honors in the show ring as well as for market-topping records. One can not view the carload lots of cattle at the great stock centers without being impressed by the evidence of good breeding, and there remains hardly any reason for doubt that the continued successes at shows of improved breeds of stock over the common kinds has been a strong incentive to general improvement in breeding.
Uniformity is a characteristic that marks every first-class carload exhibit. It is a characteristic which applies equally to breed, type, and finish, and it has a direct bearing on market prices. At longrange observation it is most apparent in color, which, together with markings, constitutes a reasonable amount of evidence of the breeding of the animals. It is in type, however, that uniformity sets off a good load of stock, this being the index to the animals' value as meat producers.
Every now and then new conditions arise with which the average stockman is more or less unfamiliar, and wherever possible it has been the aim of the premier shows to encourage exhibition and competition along these lines in order to throw light on the best way of overcoming new obstacles.
With the passing of the range and the development of the country toward general farming conditions there has gradually come about a narrowing of prices between feeder cattle and fat cattle. As a re
sult, feeders often find that the high prices of feed-especially cornmakes feeding periods lasting one hundred and eighty days and longer unprofitable. Furthermore, the profits made in a good feeding season are often entirely offset by losses in a poor feeding season. Experiment stations have begun to study methods of overcoming this by testing the feasibility of shortening the feeding period without sending the stock to market in a half-fat condition. The first exhibit in short-fed cattle was seen at the International in 1907 and created no small amount of interest. It was marked by a small beginning, consisting of only three entries, but the results attained by the first-prize entry were so striking that very likely more attention will be given to it in the future, as the conditions under which short feeding periods can be resorted to have been plainly demonstrated.
The prize exhibit referred to were high-grade Herefords of exceptional good quality and breeding, and when started on the feeding period for the show they were in good grass-fed condition. The period of feeding was ninety days, which is only about one-half the time that feeders generally find necessary to fatten cattle for market, yet they brought $6.45 per hundred pounds, or only $1.55 less than was realized by the grand champion carload, and only 3 cents below the average of all the carloads of fat cattle sold, none of which, it is safe to say, had been on feed under one hundred and eighty days, and some probably up to one year. It may reasonably be inferred from this that cattle can be put into good marketable condition and at a materially reduced expense of feed in a comparatively short period of time if they are well bred, of good quality, and in pretty good condition at the start.
The carcass competition is a natural supplement to a fat-stock exhibition, since it alone gives the true value of an animal so far as the meat dealer is concerned. In judging a fat animal on foot the main object therefore is to arrive as nearly as possible at the results that would be obtained in a carcass test. Owing to the present methods of dealing in our live-stock markets the judging of live stock on foot is an absolute commercial essential to dealers, and producers of fat stock also rely entirely on external inferences to determine fitness for slaughter. Awards in dressed-meat classes often vary, however, from the relative placing of the same animal alive. The judging of live animals is necessarily influenced to a certain extent by general characteristics, such as breeding, symmetry, constitution, etc., which considerations are entirely lost in the dressed carcass, while on the other hand a dressed carcass may prove an exception to reasonable expectations as regards color of the meat, amount of internal waste fat, or
relative weight of cuts; thus there often results a variance of opinion on the merits of an animal when judged before and after slaughter. It is only from continued study in the comparison of the results of these two methods of judging that one can become perfectly familiar with the true value of external indications.
It would appear, however, that the average show beast is still somewhat too fat to be the most profitable for the general trade, and that the judging of animals on foot has yet to be sufficiently harmonized with the judging of the carcass. These two points were amply demonstrated in the slaughter test at the 1908 International. With the laudable view of increasing the educational value of the carcass competitions the animals entered in the two slaughter classes at this show were first judged on foot (from the killing standpoint) by one of the best known judges of butcher cattle, and after slaughter another expert placed the carcasses in order of merit from the point of view of the practical butcher. There were five prizes in each of the two classes.
Of the 2-year-olds, the first, second, and third prize winners, alive, were not in the money at all after slaughter, the remaining two being placed second and fifth, respectively, by the carcass judge. It was a similar story with the yearlings, the first, third, and fourth alive not receiving any mention after slaughter. Thus, of the ten prize winners on foot only four were recognized when placed on the block.
It is true that the carcass judge leaned strongly to the type of steer that would cut up best for the general trade rather than for the limited special trade, and therefore favored carcasses yielding the maximum amount of edible meat with just sufficient marbling to make them tender and without excessive outside fat. It was stated, however, that the judge of the live classes also criticised and rejected some likely candidates because of their being too fat.
In any event, after making allowance for the individuality of the judges, it appears evident that there is at present too great a discrepancy between expert opinion regarding the merits of a body of beef before and after slaughter.
It is unfortunate that less interest appears to be taken in the carcass demonstrations at the great shows than in other competitions. It would be of great value to all stockmen to make a close study of the carcass tests at every opportunity, after first, however, forming an opinion of the animals alive; they may thus verify their judgment in a practical way.
At present the carcass test is a very limited proceeding, being carried out on a small number of animals from individual exhibits, and it is to be regretted that more details regarding this and other practical features of the shows are not published in the trade papers. In this respect British stockmen are more fortunate, since one of the