PURE GRASS BEEF
THE DEVELOPMENT OF SCOTCH SHORTHORNS
A conservative Scotch farmer, Amos Cruickshank bred archetypal Scottish functionality back into his Shorthorns. Evidently, Cruickshank also selected for the the characteristics of the old native Scotch breeds.
When searching for foundation stock, he was most impressed by the herd of John Wilkinson of Lenton. From Wilkinson's herd sire, Will Honeycomb 5660, the character associated with the Cruickshank type was carried through Lancaster Comet to Champion of England and fixed into the Cruickshank herd.
Pride of Morning
SCOTCH SHORTHORN BULL, CRUICKSHANK TYPE
photo from: Types and Breeds of Farm Animals, by Charles Sumner Plumb, 1906, 1920"His success as a breeder was no doubt due to the patient, persevering nature of the man, his innate turn for the pursuit, and also, perhaps, in some degree to the fact that he was totally devoid of any sentimental notions about 'blood' and pedigree. He looked at the animal squarely as it stood before him; if it did not come up to his standard it mattered not what the pedigree was or who the breeder. I remember visiting him on one occasion shortly after the arrival of some cows from a distant herd, which had been taken in exchange for an equal number from Sittyton. They had splendid pedigrees of great length, with Roan Duchesses and I know not what, all running back to Frederick, Belvedere and many a far-famed sire, but they lacked the substance, flesh and hair which Amos loved. As he pointed them out he could not conceal his dissatisfaction. Not one of them would please him. I ventured to remark that some of them looked to be milky, 'They may have some milk,' said he, gloomily, 'but that is about the only good thing about them.' Long experience and observation had made him a very thorough judge. For half a century he had watched over a herd of Short-horns which for many years was the largest in the kingdom, and which sent out animals that have made the fortunes of many other herds, not only in this country but in other lands. He enjoyed a long, healthy life, due partly to his good constitution and also to his regular, temperate habits. Notwithstanding his great age his mind remained wonderfully clear to the very last. He was a type of character rarely met with nowadays; so free from all vanity, affectation and humbug, so unpretending, simple and true. As some one well said, 'There was only one Amos Cruickshank and he is gone.' "T. F. Jamieson in London (Eng.) Live-stock Journal.
text from: Short-horn cattle, By Alvin Howard Sanders, 1900, page 583.
text and engraving from:
by J.H. Sanders, 1887 pages 212 and 213
Here is part of Robert Bruce's 1907 summary of Amos Cruickshank's work in developing Scotch Shorthorns, from Fifty years among Shorthorns: with over 300 pen pictures of notable sires
"The course he pursued was by no means a popular one, and many of the Northern breeders who had for many years resorted to Sittyton for their sires went further afield for their stock bulls. With that steadfastness of purpose for which he was famous Mr. Cruickshank kept to his own course, even when it necessitated his making arrangements with foreign and colonial breeders for the disposal of the annual produce of his herd. For some twelve to fifteen years the young cattle he wished to dispose of went to North America, a few old customers only being supplied with bulls. This accounts for the fact that few Cruickshank bulls were standing at service in this country at the time the herd was sold, and for the large number that were spread throughout Canada and the United States of America to exercise, as they did, an enormous influence for good.
Speaking of the great work accomplished by Mr. Cruickshank, it seems necessary to consider the object he had in view while pursuing an independent course of action. A tenant farmer himself, his object from the first was to breed a class of cattle possessing the inherent qualities capable of producing rent-paying animals. Farming under considerable disadvantages as he did with regard to the quality of the soil and the exposed situation of his farm, strength of constitution in his cattle was an absolute necessity and a qualification unhesitatingly receiving his first attention. What he considered sufficient width of chest was with him one of the principal indications of strength of constitution, if at the same time he was satisfied that the animal possessed the necessary amount of lean flesh muscular development.
After constitution and flesh, quality, as judged by hair and handlesoft, mossy hair covering a kindly handling skin of fair thicknesshe considered important. Then followed substance and the general outline of the animal a straight, flesh-covered wide back and loins, long, wide, wellpacked hind-quarters, full twists, and wide, deep, full thighs. He liked a strong, masculine head on a bull, but deprecated the idea that rough, strong horns were any indication of strength or vigour. He spoke strongly against the strong, upstanding horns that were for a time countenanced by many of the English breeders.
If asked what I considered the most striking feature in the Sittyton cattle, as seen when the herd was sold, I would, without hesitation, say it was in the great amount of natural flesh which they carried. Comparing them with the cattle in many of the best English herds, the Sittyton animals at first sight seemed small, they were so compactly built, standing on short legs.
Again, without doubt, the outlines of the Sittyton cattle differed considerably from what may be termed the then orthodox idea of perfection. The great flesh development along the backs of the Sittyton cattle certainly interfered with the appearance of rotundity or expansion of ribs. Looking, however, at the skeleton of an animal it will be recognized that the ribs start from the vertebrae situated several inches lower than the top of the dorsal bones, the bones that form the outline of the back in an animal. The amount of lean flesh development of the Sittyton cattle was one of the striking features which came as a revelation to Southern breeders, when Scotch-bred bulls began to assert themselves in the English showyards towards the end of the past century.
The width of chine, or fore-roasts, and the necessarily wide-set, somewhat open shoulder-tops, naturally affected that symmetrical appearance of roundness of ribs seen in animals with closer-set shoulder-tops and less breadth of chines.
The hind-quarters of the Sittyton cattle were, in many respects, somewhat different from the Southern animals, and if less " finished " they certainly were more valuable from a butcher's point of view, seeing that they had great depth of flesh over the pelvis bones, broad, thick thighs, and wellfilled twists.
In many cases the tails were not so well set on as might have been wished, the want of finishing at the setting on of the tails led to an appearance of shortness of quarter which, under actual measurement, did not exist.
Mr. Cruickshank's attention to flesh-development, no doubt, to a considerable extent, accounted for the fact that his cows, as a rule, were good milkers, while in many herds, where flesh or muscle had been neglected, the disposition to run to fat had done much to destroy the dairy qualities of the animals.
Mr. Cruickshank has stated that, altogether independent of the direct value of milk, experience had shown him that good milkers were the more regular breeders, and were longer useful in the herd, and unless a cow milked well she laid on fat to become an uncertain breeder, and disappear from the herd. When the herd was dispersed it may with justice be claimed for it that it contained a larger proportion of old cows in a breeding condition than could have been found in any other herd of Shorthorns in the Kingdom. This fact alone may be assumed as indirect proof that flesh and milk were much in evidence in the Sittyton herd." -Robert Bruce
A more comprehensive account of the history of Scotch Shorthorns is given by Robert Bruce in:Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland
Lancaster Comet, the sire of Champion of England, was bought from the Lenton herd, near Nottingham, of John Wilkinson. Lancaster Comet was a line bred bull.
Both the dam and sire of Lancaster Comet were sired by
Late in the life of Amos Cruickshank, John Sinclair questioned the breeder whether Champion of England's character may have descended from his dam through Plantegenet, but "the veteran (Cruickshank) shook his head. No, no! said he; it was from Will Honeycomb that all the good came." (James Sinclair, History of Shorthorn Cattle, 1907, page 166)
TEXT FROM: PART II NO I LECTURES ON Live Stock Judging AND THE History Development and Characteristics of the Various Breeds of Live Stock BY WILLARD J KENNEDY BSA Professor of Animal Husbandry and Vice Director of Experiment Station Iowa State College ol Agriculture and Mechanic Arts ANIMAL HUSBANDRY SERIES , 1903, PAGE 53
FROM: SHORT HORN CATTLE , A Series OF Historical Sketches Memoirs and Records, p. 770. by ALVlN H SANDERS, 1900
"Before taking leave of this line of breeding we may add the following description of this epoch-making sire, furnished the author by Mr. John W. Cruickshank: "Champion of England was a beautiful calf, his hair actually waved in the wind, and until his death in 1870 no other sire was so fully trusted; his large, deep body was carried on short legs; his quarters, though not long, were broad and deep; his frame carried an unusually thick covering of natural flesh, and so full was he behind the shoulders that the meat actually projected beyond the shoulder blades. No bull ever had such an influence in the herd; his calves could easily be picked out and the use of his sons, grandsons and great-grandsons impressed the Sittyton herd generally with his character. Himself descended on both sides from tribes of good milking qualities his daughters were useful dairy cattle as well as heavy-fleshed ShortHorns. His death was the result of caiculus, and when kllled, his organs were as sound and healthy as possible."
Star of Morning, sire of Pride of Morning
A VISIT TO CRUICKSHANK'S HERD
"Nonpareil of Clover Blossom", winner of first prize in the Aged Bull Class at the Royal of 1903.
PART II, NO I, Lectures on Live Stock Judging and the History, Development and Characteristics of the Various Breeds of Live Stock, By WILLARD J KENNEDY BSA, ANIMAL HUSBANDRY SERIES Correspondence Agricultural College SIOUX CITY IOWA , 1903
This chapter from Robert Bruce's book, Fifty Years Among Shorthorns, contains comments written by Amos Cruickshank.
Breeding to suit his own ideas, Amos Cruickshank succeeded in restoring the constitution, longevity, deep flesh, early maturity and fattening qualities that had comprised the original Shorthorn improvements.