Sunday, August 13, 2006


[Reproduced from the revised edition of "Types and Breeds of Farm Animals," by Charles S. Plums. Published by Ginn & Company, Boston, Mass.] ~also copied from the Herd Book 1921~

The Kerry
The native home of Kerry cattle is in the southwestern Ireland in the county of Kerry. This is one of the wildest and most picturesque sections of Ireland, with mountains rising above three thousand feet and witht he famous Killarney lakes in the setting. The climate is moist and fairly temperate. Agricultural conditions are inferior.
The origin of the Kerry is as uncertain as that of other British breeds. From time immemorial it has been bred in Ireland, where it is known as the "poor man's cow". The opinion of the British students is that this is a descendant from the smaller type of aboriginal cattle of that country, of the same character as the dark-colored cattle of Britian. Nothing more is known. The development of the breed had mainly rested with the Irish farmers or tenants, who keep but small herds.
The introduction of the Kerry to America was probably first made in 1859 by Sanford Howard of Boston, massachusetts, who imported for Arthur W. Austin a bull and five two-year old heifers. In 1860 he imported a second bull, the first having died, and two heifers. Since that period Kerry cattle have been imported to the United States in a small way up to about 1915.
Characteristics of Kerry cattle. This is a distinct dairy type of breed, with the following special characteristics: The color should always be a solid black, with no white on the body in case of the bull; with the cow a slight amount of whire on the udder or underline, while undesirable, does not disqualify. This lean head of the cow carries upstanding, slender white horns with black tips, which often turn back; the bull's horns are shorter than those of the cow, but are commonly erect, with the tips turned back. The neck is slender and long, with the withers moderate, the rump tending to be somewhat sloping, the thighs muscular, and the legs slender and comparatively long. The udder is frequently large for the size of the cow, but tends to have a poor front development. In size the Kerry is one of the small breeds, and when in breeding condition the bull should not weigh over one thousand pounds nor the cow over nine hundred pounds. The temperament of the Kerry is distinctly nervous, yet, when well cared for, these cattle are quiet and easily handled.
The maturing characteristics of Kerry cattle are secondary. As bred in Ireland, due to inferior care, they are slow to develop, producing the first calf later than other breeds. This slowness of maturity is overcome to a considerable degree under proper conditions of care and feeding, and in america earlier maturity may be expected than in Ireland.
The hardy character of Kerry cattle is one of its distinctive features. Diring the entire year it is necessary for the Irish cotter's cow to adapt herself to conditions of privation, including the inclemency of winter. No breed has a more robust constitution or is less subject to common diseases than is the Kerry.
The prepotency of the Kerry cattle is very marked. Being of an ancient breed, long bred pure, it transmits its color and physical characteristics in a marked degree.
The Kerry in crossbreeding is essentially a value in improving common dairy stock. Kerry bulls from high producing dams, bred to ordinary cows, should result in heifers showing a uniformly black color and capable of producing a good yield of superior milk at minimal cost.
The grazing value of the Kerry is very high. This breed has been developed under adverse food conditions and thrives on comparitively poor rations. It well serves the purpose of furnishing the poor Irish laborer a maximum or return for a minimum of expenditure.
The Kerry as a milk producer ranks well, considering her size and cost of production. Messrs. William and James McDonald, reporting on the Kerry cattle shown at the Paris Exposition in 1978, state that twelve quarts of milk daily during the season yield from six to seven pounds of butter a week are the estimated yield of a Kerry cow, and that cows have been known to give sixteen quarts every day for some time after calving. Only in recent years have any systematic efforts been made to keep milk or butter-fat records of these cows. In 1905 Prfessor James Long wrote as follows, relative to official trials (Agricultural Gazette. London, August 21, 1905)

If we take the milking trials at the National Dairy Show at Islington, and travel over a number of years, we find that in one year eight Kerries averaged 36 pounds, or more than 3 1/2 gallons of milk per day, this milk containing 3.33 per cent fat. In another year twelve Kerries averaged 25 1/2 pounds of milk per day, this milk containing the larfe proportion of 4.33 per cent fat, while the solids not fat reached 9.2 per cent. Again, in a third year, seven Kerries averaged 33 1/2 pounds of milk, containing 3.69 per cent fat. In two other years the average of ten cows in each year were 27 1/4 pounds of milk and 33 pounds of milk, the fat percentage in one case 4.36 and in the other 4.26.

In official tests in 1916 and 1917 in Ireland, under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland, records ranged from 4812 pounds of milk as a minimum to 8124 pounds as a maximum yield, forty-fice weeks being the extreme period of lactation. The butter-fat percentage ranged from 3.4 to 4.9, the average being 4 per cent. From what the author has seen of these cattle in Ireland he believes the Kerry to be a milk-producing breed of much promise under a judicious system and selection.
The distribution of the Kerry is not general; even in Ireland, where it is best known, the Shorthorn is the leading breed. There are a number of excellent Kerry herds in England, but very few of these cattle have neen inported to America. There are small herds in Australia and South Africa. In the United States the principal herds are in New York, Missouri and Minnesota.
Organization for the promotion of Kerry cattle have been in existence for some years. In 1887 a register was started in Ireland by the owners of the Farmers' Gazette of Dublin, which was taken over by the Royal Dublin Society after the publication of three volumes of herdbooks. In 1890 this society issued the first volume of the "Kerry and Dexter Herdbook," and has continued doing so up to date. Seventeen volumes of the RIish herdbook have been published, containing the total entry up to 1918 of 871 Kerry bulls and 2658 cows. An English Kerry and Dexter Cattle Society, with headquarters in London, was established in 1892 and has published eighteen herdbooks, containing a total entry to 1917 inclusive of 392 Kerry bulls and 2098 cows. In 1917 an Irish Kerry and Dexter Cattle Society was organized in Ireland to promote the welfare of the breed. In 1911 an American Kerry and Dexter Cattle Club was organized, but thus far had published no herdbook. Up to 1920 but 16 bulls and 61 cows have been recorded, and to this date no importation herd of Kerry cattle has been established in the United States.


Post a Comment

<< Home