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Breeders' Association

( Originally Published 1912 )

The aim of the various associations of breeders is to do by combined effort what unorganized individuals could only do with difficulty if at all. The value of combined effort first became manifest when trade became general in highly bred animals. The value of a strong line of ancestry as a reinforcement of individuality in breeding stock was recognized by the patrons of Bakewell and succeeding breeders. So long as the buyer was dealing with Bakewell or the Collings he knew that his purchase was the product of several generations of selection by the person by whom the ancestry was described, and nothing more was necessary. With a rapidly increasing number of breeders and the necessity of dealing with comparative strangers, whose herds and whose careers as breeders were not familiar, it became necessary to have some-thing more than a mere verbal statement of the ancestry or pedigree. Especially was the verbal transfer of pedigree unsatisfactory when animals were bought from persons owning large herds composed mainly of individuals reared by other breeders. The danger of confusion and intentional or unintentional misrepresentation of pedigrees was considerable.

It was with an aim to remove such difficulties that confronted early Short-horn breeders that George Coates, acting on his own initiative, collected the pedigrees of Short-horns of note up to the time he issued his first volume in 1822. It was not until 1876 that the British breeders, organized. as the Short-horn Society of Great Britain, took charge of the preparation and publication of pedigree records. The following from Coates' first volume is of interest: "As it must be the interest and wish of every breeder to be enabled to breed with the greatest possible accuracy as to pedigrees and so forth, therefore, to assist the author in correcting errors in this work he takes the liberty of recommending every breeder to have one of his works interleaved with plain paper, and on it to correct any errors he may discover, or make fresh entries as his stock increases; all of which entries (or a copy of them), being sent by every breeder to the author immediately (or at all events prior to the compilation of the next edition of this work), will be an in-calculable benefit to the breeders at large and the author in particular."

Short-horn affairs had assumed considerable proportion in America before the time the British breeders took control of their herd book. From 1846 to 1882 Lewis F. Allen performed for the American breeders a service similar to that of Coates in England. Breeders in Ohio and Kentucky also published rival books and it was not until 1882 that the three enterprises were combined under the auspices of the American Short-horn Breeders' Association. The advantages of a single association for each breed are too manifest to need mention. However among those interested in some of our breeds of horses, sheep and swine there is not even yet sufficient har mony of effort and method to prevent the existence of several rival associations organized for exactly similar purposes. Unanimity of effort is desirable because it simplifies registration and exchange. of animals of the breed, and also because organized effort can care for important matters better than the most earnest of scattered endeavors. In no European country is there more than one association for a single breed of stock. Although a single association is much more useful, there is in America nothing to prevent any number of breeders who are dissatisfied with the management of their associations from organizing a new one.

Practically all associations are chartered in some state and any supervision of their work by state officials is wholly nominal, and the officers elected by the membership are responsible only to the members. Serious abuses have d e v e l o p e d through the acquirement of control of an association by a small number of persons who may direct affairs for their own interest and in a few instances dishonestly. Such mismanagement has been facilitated by the failure of a considerable part of the membership to attend the annual meetings at which officers are required to report upon their administration of the affairs of the society. In other instances interested parties have secured proxies, without instructions as to their use, in sufficient number to override the number of members usually present in person. The use of proxies is rapidly being discontinued and the more general attendance of members insures fair administration of their affairs. Fraudulent registrations when detected are usually punished by the expulsion of the offender and cancellation of pedigrees of animals owned by him at the time. Some associations are more active than others in detecting frauds, although it is impossible for any set of officers to fully verify the breed ing given in each application for registry. The association will be no better and no worse than the average integrity of its individual members.

Imported pure-bred animals have always been admitted to the United States without payment of duty. The law relating to such exemption from duty is a part of the tariff act and has stood for some years as follows :

"Any animal imported by a citizen of the United States specially for breeding purposes shall be admitted free, whether intended to be so used by the importer himself or for sale for such purpose : Provided, that no such animal shall be admitted free unless pure-bred, of a recognized breed, and duly registered in the books of record established for that breed. And provided furtherĄ that certificate of such record and of the pedigree of such animal shall be produced and submitted to the customs officer, duly authenticated by the proper custodian of such book of record, together with the affidavit of the owner, agent or importer, that such animal is the identical animal described in said certificate of record and pedigree: And provided further, that the Secretary of Agriculture shall determine and certify to the Secretary of the Treasury what are recognized breeds and pure-bred animals under the provisions of this paragraph."

Until 1904 the Secretary of Agriculture furnished the Secretary of the Treasury "lists of foreign and American books," recording animals entitled to admission to the United States free of duty. In that year an order was promulgated to give some basis of supervision over American associations which had received the certification of the Department of Agriculture. Only such books were placed upon the Government certified list as had complied with regulations established by the Department of Agriculture calculated to insure the fair and proper management of those books. Many associations whose members did not wish to import stock complied with the Government orders and secured certification of their books for the standing it gave them with the breeders and buyers from other countries.

In December, 1910, it was ruled that it had not been the intention of the framers of the tariff act to empower the Department of Agriculture to supervise the registration of pure-bred live stock. The certification of books of record was accordingly discontinued. Animals are now exempt from payment of duty only on the certificates of pure breeding issued by the Bureau of Animal Industry of the Department of Agriculture. The officers of the Bureau of Animal Industry define what will be accepted as pure breeding. The customs authorities require that the certificate of registration accompany the certificate issued by the Bureau when the animal comes to port of entry.

The Canadian breeders have worked out a novel and admirable plan of administering the affairs of breeders' associations. The Canadian act providing for the incorporation of live stock record associations was passed in 1900. It provides for the incorporation of such associations upon application to the Dominion Minister of Agriculture. Not more than one association for each distinct breed of horses, cattle. sheep or swine can be incorporated under the act. In 1904 delegates from all existing associations met in convention and organized themselves into the National Live Stock Association. At the same time it was agreed that all existing records should be amalgamated into one National Record. It was also arranged for the Minister of Agriculture to assume the administration of the National Live Stock Record. The various associations retain their identity, continue their work of promoting breed interests, make their own rules, and elect a member of the joint executive committee known as the National Record Board. This board deals with matters in which the societies are jointly interested. The record offices are in the government buildings and each certificate of registration is examined by a representative of the Minister of Agriculture and if approved has affixed to it the seal of the Department of Agriculture.

Nearly all records in all countries limit registration to the offspring of registered parents. Newer breeds have less rigid standards agreed to until such time as it becomes advisable to receive no more foundation stock. The American Trotting Register and the American Saddle Horse Register are to be closed to all but progeny of registered stock in 1913. All such regulations, charges for registration and disposition of accumulated moneys are decided upon in business meetings of the members. Membership fees vary from $1 to $20 per year. Any breeder may become a member of the association of the breed he handles and as a member has a vote on all questions and is eligible to hold office in the association. In many associations the charges for registration are lower on animals owned by members than on those owned by non-members.

Breeders organize for other purposes also than mere registration. In many instances standards of excellence have been prepared and distributed to secure uniformity in the objects of the breeders. Expense is sometimes incurred in advertising and in arranging for sales of stock in districts that give promise of developing a demand for breeding stock. Of recent years the associations have appropriated large sums to be offered as additional prizes at important fairs. The extra premium money insures larger and better exhibits to make a creditable display to attract the public and to acquaint them with the accomplishments of the breeders and with the value of superior stock.

The discussion so far has dealt primarily with the fundamental principles underlying successful breeding. The aim has been to present the known factors which determine heredity and to give an unbiased summary of the theories advanced by noted scientists for explaining the mysterious features of reproduction. The molding of animal form and function is an art in itself, based mainly on the practical experience and achievements of the master breeders but aided in later years by the discoveries and theories of scientific investigators. In the light of the preceding pages, a brief consideration of the steps by which horses, cattle, sheep and swine have reached their present state of perfection and adaptation to human needs will give a clearer understanding of breeders' problems.

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