PURE GRASS BEEF
"The Fife Breed.—Probably in no county is the character of the cattle so uniform, and in few parts do they more decidedly unite the best qualities which cattle can possess. They bear evident impress of their Highland origin, but there has been a cross which distinguishes them from all other Scotch cattle. Dr. Thomson in his "Survey of Fifeshire," thus describes them :—" Though the true Fife breed may be found of any colour, the prevailing one is black; nor are they less esteemed though spotted or streaked with white or of a grey colour. The horns are small, white, generally pretty erect, or at least turned up at the points, and bending rather forward. The bone is small in proportion to the carcase; the limbs clean, but short, and the skin soft; they are wide between the extreme points of the hock-bones; the ribs are narrow and wide set, and have a greater curvature than in other kinds, which gives the body a thick round form. They fatten quickly, and fill up well at all the choice points. They are hardy, fleet, and travel well; tame and docile, and excellent for work, whether in the plough or in the cart." There is a very great difference in the size of the Fife oxen, and this is to be attributed to the variable quality of the pasture, and the attention paid in breeding and rearing. When fed for the butcher, they generally weigh from thirty-five to sixty-five stones. They have, however, been slaughtered at more than 100 stones. Moreover, they are far from unprofitable for the dairy. A good Fife cow will give from five to seven gallons of milk per day, or from seven to nine pounds of butter, or from ten to twelve pounds of cheese per week for some months after calving; while the cow is in milk for ten or eleven months."
It happens these may not be extinct, but (to me) the information is too interesting to omit.
"Among the breeds doomed to extinction is the once so well known and highly prized Glamorgan breed. The Glamorgans are of ancient lineage, and their origin is hidden in the past. They belong to the class called middle-horns, and in character and antiquity of descent they rank with the Herefords, Devons, the Welsh black cattle, and other allied breeds. As far back as the twelfth'century, it is- said that a Norman knight, Robert Fitzhammond, who had seized a great portion of Glamorgan, introduced some Normandy cattle into the county, which, are supposed to have been crossed with the native cattle. The swelling crest of the Glamorgan ox is by some traced to the influence of this admixture of foreign blood. Youatt says that the influence of Devon blood could not be mistaken at the end of the last century, and attributes it to the importation of Devons into the district by Sir Richard de Grenaville, one of the knights who at one time divided the lordship of Neath. It is certain, however, from all legends and historical accounts, that the Glamorgan cattle are a very old breed, and were the native cattle of the district from a very early date, and that their principal characteristics remain unchanged, Norman and other breeds notwithstanding. In more modern times the Glamorgan farmers were particularly careful of their breed, and we are told that in the last century they prided themselves greatly on the fact that they admitted no admixture of foreign blood into their cattle. The Glamorgan cattle soon became famous. Stock in England at that time were fed at grass. There was no stall feeding and no improved Shorthorn. There was land, to plough, and active strong oxen did most of the work. The ideal of a good breed consisted in the females being hardy and profitable milkers, and the males active, docile, and strong workers in plough and cart, and beasts that, when their allotted period of farm labour was done, would, at six or seven years old, fatten into brave oxen on the broad English pastures, on their way up to London and other great centres of the beef-eating population. The Glamorgan breed was celebrated for these desired qualities, and about the commencement of the present century they were highly prized and much sought for by the great English graziers and feeders in the counties of Northampton, Warwick, Wilts, and Leicester. George III., who has been dignified by Youatt with the character of being a "good judge of cattle," was very partial to this breed. He stocked his farm at Windsor with them, and periodically recruited the herd with fresh blood from the Welsh country fairs.
Notwithstanding the high patronage of a king, and other circumstances which might be thought favourable to their development, they have gradually declined in character and in numbers, until at the present time there is no pure herd of these cattle to be found in the county where they were so long held supreme. The Glamorgans are almost extinct. A cow here and there of the old type might be found, but they have greatly degenerated in size and quality; and a pure-bred bull of the true sort it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find. The reason of the decline of these once famous cattle is popularly attributed to the high price of corn during the French Revolution and the succeeding wars of Napoleon, which were followed by the breaking up of the old fine pastures of Glamorgan for the purpose of growing greater breadths of grain crops. Why the Glamorgans should succumb under such influences more than many other well-known breeds I cannot say. It is, however, certain that from that time less care was bestowed on them, and they_ diminished in number. Consequently their fame became more circumscribed, and when the farmers of the county once more turned to breeding cattle, they took advantage of the fashionable improved breeds that had. already gone so far in advance of their native stock...
The Glamorgan cattle produced a rare quality of meat, highly prized in the metropolitan and provincial markets. They were'profitable to the butchers, being well lined inside with tallow, and their meat, from its first-rate quality, always commanded the highest price."
SMOKEY FACED MONTGOMERYSHIRES
Upwards of a century ago when dairy farming was by no means a principal object in this county of Montgomery the colour of the cows most generally preferred was a blood red with smoky faces called the Montgomeryshire breed of cattle. The smoky faced breed which occupied a good position in the county at one time has given way within the last half century to breeds requiring less time to attain maturity and consequently affording quicker and more profitable returns to the producer. This breed was until late years tenaciously clung to by some of its more ardent admirers but it is now all but extinct and its rapid extermination may be attributed to the fact that for crossing with the finer breeds more especially the Hereford it was found invaluable. Nothing was ever known to excel the cross breed for its rapid growth development and production of the finest quality of beef in the same climate and on the same condiment of food its chief features being its extraordinary proportion of excellent lean flesh. It is questionable if the old smoky faced cattle would not answer well yet to breed specially for the purpose of crossing. Some of this distinct breed can be seen at Crosswood near Welshpool the seat of Colonel Heyward and it will be observed that Montgemeryshire smoky faces are to be exhibited at the forthcoming show of the Shropshire and West Midland Agricultural Society to be held at Welshpool this month.