Draft Horses Age of Animals for Breeding
Draft Horses Age of Animals for Breeding subject to the influences of very early precocity, or contraction of disease, the age at which draught stallions and mares may be employed for breeding purposes are prescribed only by the natural development and decline of procreative power, but the periods of life when they may be profitably used are more limited.
Note* Many good judges insist that a cart horse should possess very sloping shoulders. Whilst admitting the necessity of such a conformation for good saddle and light harness horses, and appreciating its beauty in heavy animals, I am decidedly opposed to the opinion, on the ground that such form is almost invariably associated with thin withers and shoulder-blades closely applied to the front ribs, affording an insufficient and insecure seat for the collar, and, consequently, one very defective for the purposes of heavy draught.
Condition of Stud Animals.
Moderate condition, attained by good food associated with regular and sufficient labor, is desirable in breeding animals. Excessive leanness implies irritability of temperament, or the existence of some disease, whilst a disposition to accumulate fat indicates a soft lymphatic temperament, both of which extremes are unfavorable for the best fulfilment of the procreative functions. Other qualifications, action, courage, vigor, capacity for work, intelligence, and obedience, are also desirable in stud animals.
Choice of a Stallion
In the selection of a stallion, it is not wise to attach as much importance to the animal himself as to the quality of his stock (that is, of course, if he is old enough to have offspring to be judged), and, whenever it is intended to employ one on an extensive scale, his merits as a good reproduction in all respects should be previously ascertained.
Prolific Powers of Stallions.
It is difficult to estimate the prolific force of a stallion without experience of his individual capabilities; it is usual to fix the number of mares in regard to his age and value. In justice to the owner of the mare the limit ought to be governed by reason; as a rule, the number of mares assigned to one horse in this country is excessive.
From the following table of statistics relating to the royal studhorses of France, * the fecundated power of a stallion is increased than diminished by moderate use. The best results of the services of these stallions must, however, be considered very unfavorable; the proportion of foals should be 70%, and certainly not below 50 per cent.
It is common to allow two-year-old colts to be extensively used, but the most considerate owners limit the number of their services for the first and second seasons. The excessive use of young stallions is detrimental to their development and the effect upon their hind legs is disastrous. The stimulating diet which they are treated also tends to deliberate their constitutions and lay the foundations for irremediable diseases.
Many instances are recorded of the procreative power being retained by stallions to a very advanced age. Aristotle cites one case of a horse begetting foals at forty years old. Mr. Street states that Mr. Nix’s captain served mares for nearly thirty years * and numerous instances are known of horses twenty years old and upwards, amongst them ‘Wisemans Wonder’ not only serving mares successfully but travelling whole seasons on wide circuits.
Entire horses, which have not been forced by strong food, and have been but moderately used up to five years old, remain sound and vigorous to a good old age; and to a sound, hardy stallion of seven to fifteen, or even more years, possessing suitable qualifications, let me commend those who desire good, strong, and healthy foals.
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