As a rule, the longer the pedigree of the sire and dam the more closely will the offspring resemble its immediate parents, especially if they have been somewhat inbred. If the pedigree of an animal contains the names of many noted ancestors, it gives value to the animal over and above that of one with a pedigree which contains few or no distinguished ancestors, provided that the animals are equally meritorious. These latter are called "plain" pedigrees. But a long pedigree does not necessarily add value to the animal which possesses it. The pedigree value, then, consists largely in showing that the animal to which it belongs has been bred without any admixture of blood outside of the breed so far back as the pedigree extends, and it may also be of value in revealing the names and numbers of unusually meritorious ancestors. However, animals of unusual merit occasionally have short pedigrees; the genealogical value of such a pedigree being based largely on the animal's prepotency, or on that of its near ancestors, and not on the length of time which has elapsed since its ancestors were first recorded.
Both long and short pedigrees are found not only in the records of Shorthorns but in those of other breeds of animals, though most of the Shorthorns of today have longer recorded and better authenticated pedigrees than many other breeds of domesticated animals.
A short and a long pedigree are given below and well illustrate the evolution of pedigree-making:
Angus Ladd (1046). Foaled May, 1856.
Sire, a horse belonging to the Earl of Strathmore. Pedigree unknown.
Fig. 6. A marked ease of in-and-in breeding.
The pedigree of Alphea Czar (Fig. 6) is one of many which might be cited to illustrate persistent inbreeding. It should be said, however, that the strict meaning of the term "inbred" is not well defined. In a general way it is used to designate the mingling of the blood of animals more closely related than second or third cousins.
It will be noted that the genealogy of Moses (Fig. 7) traces back ten times to Terah, and that so far as the record goes the ancestry of the father and mother of Moses are identical, with the exception of two paternal and one maternal ancestors. The fact should not be overlooked, however, that there are but forty-seven ancestors recorded, whereas he had in the eight generations four hundred and ten ancestors, and that in the last, or eighth, generation there are one hundred and twenty - eight maternal ancestors, only two of whom are mentioned in the record, and one hundred and twenty-eight paternal ancestors, only five of whom are mentioned. Stated mathematically, Moses' genealogy in the eighth generation traces back to two hundred and fifty-six ancestors and shows that he received two two-hundred-and-fifty-sixths of his blood from Haran, five two-hundred-and-fifty-sixths from Terah and two-hundred and forty-nine two-hundred-and-fifty-sixths from unknown and unrecorded blood. It is probable, however, that the ancestors of Moses not recorded were related more or less closely to those which are enumerated. In the case of domestic animals, the probabilities are that the unrecorded ancestors were not closely related, nor is it probable that they came from homogeneous blood. For an extended discussion of inbreeding, see Chapter XII (French, Belgian And Flemish Draft-Horses).
Fig. 7. Genealogy of Moses.
A grade is the progeny of a full-blood and a "nondescript," the latter term meaning, in this connection, an animal usually having little or no improved blood and of no authenticated and recorded ancestry. The term "high grade" is usually applied to animals which have derived seven-eighths or more of their blood from the full-blooded ancestry. This term is seldom used to indicate the lineage of horses, they being specifically termed half-blood, three-fourths blood, and so on.
Subbreeds are formed by selecting, from a breed, two or more animals which may vary slightly from the usual type of the breed, and then by accentuating the differences by means of improved food, management and selection. A good illustration of a subbreed is the Delaine Merino sheep. This subbreed was started by selecting animals that produced wool longer than the average. These were put under better conditions and when the offspring varied toward wool of a longer staple and yet of good quality, they were preserved. Those were discarded which did not show improvement along the line desired and also those which tended to revert to the shorter-wooled type. If the increase in the length of wool had been secured by a cross with one of the long-wooled breeds, then the term "cross-breed" would have been appropriate.
A cross-bred animal is the progeny of two distinct breeds, as the White Plymouth Rock, which was probably produced by crossing the White Leghorn with the Plymouth Rock. If the breed was formed as it is asserted, then a more appropriate name for these fowls would be Plymouth Leghorns.
If, then, as has been stated, a pedigree may be long or short, may be deficient or complete on the dam's side, may contain many, few or no distinguished ancestors, is it still helpful and valuable, and if so, in what ways? If a pedigree be scanned closely it may reveal first the time which has elapsed since the breed took on well - defined characteristics. Other things being equal, the longer the breed has been established the greater are the chances that the offspring will closely resemble, in all of its characteristics, its ancestors. If one is familiar with the breed under consideration, he will quickly recognize the names of the superior animals recorded in the pedigree. This will naturally lead to a study of the history and performance of these animals as set forth by the best informed writers who have been or are interested in the breeds; it gives assurance that the animal whose pedigree is being considered is pure bred and not a grade or a nondescript, and enables one to ascertain whether the animal in question is descended from superior specimens of the breed. It helps one to become acquainted with the methods practiced by the most successful breeders. A good knowledge of pedigrees and the possession of recorded animals are powerful stimulants, which are likely to result in an endeavor to improve the breed along one or more lines; and this in turn serves to stimulate an honest pride in the breeder's profession.
On the other hand, reliance on pedigree alone may work disastrous results if followed blindly. Individual merit should accompany a pedigree. When, as sometimes happens, a pedigree is simply a record of degenerates, it only helps to mislead. The eye of the breeder that is quick to detect every improvement or note the least tendency to retrogression is the chief thing to be relied upon when breeding any kind of domestic animals for improvement.