Animal Breeding

Animal Breeding

By Thomas Shaw

Animal breeding is in many of its phases a most intricate subject. While it has its shallows it has also its great depths that have never yet been fathomed. They would take an intellectual giant over his head at the very first plunge. The difficulty, therefore, of writing effectively on such a subject will be at once apparent.

Several authors have made the attempt, and some of them have written well. It must however be apparent to those who have studied the subject that these books are all more or less wanting, first, in the comprehensive treatment of the subject, or, second, in orderly arrangement and sequence, or, third, in simplicity.

This book is written, therefore, in the hope of, in some measure, removing these defects and of giving to the public a more teachable book. How far the author has succeeded is left with an indulgent public to say.


  • Breeding Livestock
  • A Standard of Excellence
  • The Law that Like Produces Like
  • The Law on Principle of Variation
  • The Law of Atavism
  • Heredity of Normal, Abnormal and Acquired Characters.
  • Heredity of Diseases
  • The Law of Correlation
  • Prepotency
  • In-and-in Breeding.
  • Line Breeding
  • Fecundity
  • The Relative Influence of Parents.
  • The Influence of a Previous Impregnation.
  • Intra-Uterine Influences
  • Influences that Affect the Determination of Sex
  • Nutrition
  • Quality in Livestock
  • The Coat and Influences Which Affect It
  • The Influence of Artificial Conditions
  • Early Maturity
  • Pedigree
  • Animal Form as an Index of Qualities.
  • Selection
  • Cross Breeding
  • Improvement Through Grading
  • Forming New Breeds
  • The Influence of the Environment
  • Castration and Spaying
  • Mating Animals
  • Appendix A: Period of Gestation in Domestic Animals
  • Appendix B: Reading and Writing Pedigrees

The term livestock is used to denote living animals such as are kept on the farm. It is more commonly applied to cattle, sheep, and swine, but is also used in a sense so wide as to include all domesticated animals reared on the farm.

It has probably been coined as an easy means of reference to the living animal as distinguished from the same in the dead meat or dressed form.

Definition of Animal Breeding. —Animal breeding is that science which treats the reproduction and improvement of domestic animals. Some knowledge of the principles which govern successful breeding has been possessed from an incredibly early period, but just how early can never be certainly known.

Both ancient and modern writers are almost entirely silent on the subject until within the last two or three centuries. Almost the only reference to the subject, as such, during the first four thousand years of the world’s history, is that incidentally narrated in the book of Genesis when speaking of the arts practiced by Jacob to increase his flocks and herds.

But, within the past two or three centuries, great advances have been made in this science. The principles which govern it have not only come to be better understood, but the knowledge of these is being diffused as never before.

Foremost among the agencies in disseminating such knowledge have been the agricultural press and the agricultural college.

Breeding a Science and an Art.—Animal breeding is at once a science and an art. It is a science in so far as it discovers and systematically arranges the truths and principles which relate to the improvement of livestock. The value of in-and-in breeding, for instance, as a quick means of improvement illustrates such a discovery. (See Chapter X.)

It does not appear to have been known to the ancients. If it were thus known the knowledge was subsequently lost. The systematic arrangement of the truths and principles which relate to science is yet far from complete, and it may be added that many of these truths and principles are not yet understood.

It is an art in so far as it successfully uses those principles in effecting improvement. The importance, therefore, of understanding the principles which make improvement possible will be at once apparent, since, until so understood, they cannot be turned into profitable accounts.

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