in retrospect – a historic view beyond
midnight on January 1st 1928 the SRB breed was formally established
after five years of negotiations between the Ayrshire society and the RSB
association, which had decided on the the fusion of the two societies one year
earlier. The place of the event was
the farm Snesta in the county of Sörmland, where the RSB inspector Jack Löndahl
immediately before midnight included the last cows in the RSB herdbook and the
first ones in the SRB herdbook immediately after midnight.
extended negotiations reflect the difficulties to reach a decision. The two
breeds were closely related and both of them had Ayrshire and Shorthorn bulls in
their pedigrees and also to some extent the native breeds and the so called
manorial breeds. The decisive difference was that the RSB-breed had a higher
proportion of Shorthorn blood (about 50 %) despite the fact that the Ayrshire
bull 28 Hero (with number 261 in the Ayrshire Herd Book) could be found in the
pedigrees of almost all of them. It should also be remembered that the Ayrshire
and the Shorthorn breeds were related inter se.
the fact that the two breeds were related and had developed in a similar way it
was not self evident that the breed associations should fuse. There was a
dispute about the name of the new breed, which threatened to prevent it. The RSB
society wanted the name to be Red and White Swedish cattle, which was almost the
same as the former name Red Spotted Swedish cattle (the final B stands for
boskap, which means cattle). The final solution was Swedish Red and White cattle,
SRB, which the Ayrshire association at the end could accept.
part of the historical review will be superficial. The space does not allow
anything else. Domesticated cattle appeared on the Scandinavian peninsula during
the younger stone age about 6000 years ago with immigrating people from England.
At the end of the younger stone age, about 4000 years ago, a new kind of people
arrived in the country, the so called boat-ax-people and the theory is that even
these brought with them domestic cattle. From now on we had the foundation of a
is believed that no new cattle was brought in during the bronze- and the iron
age. During the bronze age the climate was warm and continental but during the
iron age, 2500 years ago, the climate turned colder and the animals were
hardened through selection.
Vikings and the mediaval period
Vikings may have brought cattle back to Sweden on the way home from their
predatory incursions and trade voyages, but it is more probable that they
brought cattle on their way out. A result of this is the Icelandic cow, which
has survived there since during 1000 years without any blood renewal. The
present cows on Iceland are thus living examples on how the cattle looked like
on the Scandinavian peninsula (except Skåne) at that time. The cows were horned
or culled, and with all possible colours (pale red with a white face, tigrine or
sided coloured like the polled cows in northern Sweden.
the medieval period (AD 1060 – 1520) there is no evidence of any significant
imports. However, an extensive export of breeding animals occurred as during the
Viking age, which is supported by the writings by Adam of Bremen saying that
cattle were superfluous in the Nordic countries. In view of the commercial
connection between Visby and northern Germany (Hansan) the island of Gotland may
have imported more cattle than other parts of Sweden.
the country an increased trade with cattle may have contributed to a mixing of
existing groups of landrace cattle (besides the immigration from the south some
researchers mean that we have had an immigration route from the east over
the regency of Gustav Wasa cattle breeding flourished. Cattle production was
lifted to a higher level by “King Gösta”.
During this time cattle from Jutland, Holstein and Holland were imported
to some of the royal farms and it is reasonable to believe that the landraces
were affected by these imports. The cows at this time were small (150 kg) and
produced normally 500-600 kg milk per year but could in certain cases yield 1300
kg a year on the best royal farms according to well preserved annotations – a
respectable amount in view of the low body size. Some of the royal farms had
remarkably large herds. At Gripsholm 396 cows were kept one year and at Ekolsund
300 (replacements not included).
period 1600 – 1830
these centuries cattle production regressed from time to time for varying
reasons. One cause was the so called “boskapspenningen”, which was a tax
introduced 1620 on all animals above a certain age. During the period of liberty
(1718 – 1772) the situation became even worse while it meant a political
guardianship with negative consequences for the farmers. During this time sheep
production was favoured at the expense of the cattle production. The many wars
in these years also had a negative impact. The cattle business had a low status
when the noblemen preferred more honourable tasks on the battle field of Europe
to peaceful agricultural activities.
the 17th and the 18th century Sweden was repeatedly hit by
severe crop-failure and severe cattle diseases. A severe crop-failure was
recorded in 1695 – 96 and a severe cattle-plague (rinderpest) in 1745 – 46.
At this occasion at least 200 000 cattle died only in Skåne and this part
of the country was the one most severely affected, mainly because of frequent
importations from Holland at this time.
“Scanian manorial breed”
emptied barns in Skåne had to be refilled with cattle from counties north of Skåne.
The remains of the local landrace and the imported animals were mainly combined
with landrace cattle from Småland and the result was the “Scanian manorial
breed”. This landrace was somewhat larger than the cattle north of the Halland
ridge. It was also darker red, which indicates relations with the type of
landrace cow in Denmark and northern Germany, which eventually ended up in the
RDM- and the Angler breeds. The
Scanian manorial breed could be found at Scanian estates until the 1860ies
and had in the meantime affected a number of manorial breeds in middle
1830 – Inspiration from Britain
the 1830ies it became evident that something had to be done. Scholars like
Alexis Noring and Johan T. Nathorst had been inspired by the success of the
creation of improved breeds in England and forwarded their ideas in different
ways. The creation of new breeds and systematic selection within these
populations was something, not practised before – not until Robert Bakewell at
the second half of the 18th century conducted his pioneering
improvement of the British Longhorn breed.
brothers Charles and Robert Colling were inspired by the ideas of Bakewell at
the end of the 18th century and started the improvement of the
Shorthorn breed from the unselected Teeswater cattle. The work by the Colling
brothers was pursued by the breeders Booth and Bates respectively, which
continued the improvement in two directions. Booth created the Beef Shorthorns (named
Durhams in Sweden at that time) and Thomas Bates followed a line that ended up
in the Dairy Shorthorn breed (named Yorkshire in Sweden). As a curiosity, it may
be mentioned that the bull Hubback from the Colling herd became the founder bull
of both the branches of the Shorthorn breed.
Walaholm breed – one of many manorial breeds
engagement by Noring and Nathorst inspired many estate owners and already at the
end of the 1830ies importations had started both of Durhams and Yorkshires.
Somewhat later the first Ayrshires appeared in Sweden. These breeds had been
imported to Walaholm in the parish of Hova in Västergötland where the so
called Walaholm breed was created, which was widely spread in Västergötland
and surrounding counties. A curiosity is that Walaholm bought cattle from
Katrineberg in Värmland, which in turn came from Degeberg in Västergötland
and originally from Stjärnsund outside Askersund i Närke in the 1760ies. 100
years later the pioneering selection of red cows started at Stjernsund with
cattle, mainly originating from Walaholm.
the mentioned breeds from Walaholm and Katrineberg a number of local manorial
breeds were created and it was in these times that the words breed and race (or
“slag”) were used for the firs time. Basically it was successful herds that
affected the surrounding areas. Kobergsslaget and Strömsholms racen were
examples of this. Many of these local breeds were influenced by the Scanian
only private breeders were inspired by Noring and Nathorst. After a resolution
in the Swedish parliament in 1844, 8 “Stamholländerier” were established in
different places with governmental support. Every “Stamholländeri” received without any payment 2 bulls
and 20 females of a purebred imported breed (not domestic cows as the original
intention had been). The service in return was to supply the surrounding area
with good breeding animals. Half of the establishments received Ayrshire cattle,
which eventually outperformed the other actual breeds (Allgauer, Voightländer
and Pembrokeshire) when new “Stamholländerier” were formed.
abandoned in 1871 with the exception of the establishment at Alnarp, which
remained until 1901. Many of the farms that had been engaged in this activity
continued their Ayrshire breeding later on and many of the well-known herds like
Bjärka Säby, Klagstorp (later on Viken) and Aranäs were more or less
influenced by the subsidised importations. The herd at Ultuna/Kungsängen in
Uppsala was founded by the imports of 1847. The importance of “Stamholländerierna”
has thus been of far greater importance than many authors over the years have
and Scanian Ayrshires
1847, the initial year for “Stamholländerierna” , an even more important
importation was made to Hjuleberg in Halland and Skarhult outside Eslöv in Skåne.
From these farms the Ayrshire breed was very rapidly disseminated to a number of
prominent herds in Skåne and Halland at the end of the 19th century.
After 1899, when the Ayrshire society had been formed, the Skarhult breeding was
moved north via Aranäs outside Gränna and dominated the Swedish Ayrshire
breeding until the fusion with the RSB-breed in 1928.
Ayrshire imports in the 1880ies and the 1890ies
Ayrshire breeding in Skåne and Halland was highly influenced by the private
importations to Skarhult in the same way as the interest for this breed in
middle Sweden was influenced by “Stamholländerierna” and by some private
Ayrshire centers like Ålberga, Tynnelsö and Väderbrunn in Södermanland. In
the 1880ies and the 1890ies many Ayrshire importations were made with the main
purpose to upgrade the unselected farm animals. The type of the Ayrshire cow had
been changed in Britain between 1840 and 1880. The importations at the end of
the 19th century were of the modern Scottish type and it was this
type that later on affected the Ayrshires in Finland and North America. The new
Ayrshires differed significantly in type from the earlier importations, and
above all from the type of the Ayrshires in Skåne.
system of awarding and the bull associations
contributing factor to the increasing interest for the Ayrshire breeding was the
system of awarding that was introduced in most of the counties at the end of the
1880ies. In each county the rural-economy associations appointed an awarding
committee with a secondary duty to administrate a county-herd book over the
breeds eligible for awarding. On countless awarding meetings bulls and cows
appointed for awarding were accepted or rejected. In almost all counties up to
and including the county of Gävleborg Ayrshires were awarded. Other breeds that
were awarded were Shorthorns, East Friesian cattle, Polled cattle in northern
Sweden and cows belonging to the Gotland breed. However, the Ayrshires
outnumbered all the others added together. At the end of the 19th
century the number of bull associations increased considerably, which
contributed to the growth of the Ayrshire breed.
– for those who had used Ayrshires and Shorthorns
increased interest for breeding with pure breeds caused troubles for advanced
manorial herds, which had been improved by means of both Ayrshires and
Shorthorns. The selling of breeding animals was rapidly reduced. At the
agricultural fair in Göteborg 1891 such a mixed group was exhibited and aroused
common admiration and approval. On the initiativ by among others estate owner
Ivar Lindström a proclamation was issued saying that these and similar animals
should be taken care of. The proclamation was well received and the year efter,
1892, the breed association for Red Spotted Swedish (RSB) cattle was founded.
Initially the number of cooperating
herds were few and limited to the counties of Närke and Södermanland. The
number of awardings were not grater than the number of Ayrshire awardinngs in
the Malmöhus county during the period 1890 – 1900. In the new century the
number of cooperating herds increased every year – at the same time as the
base for the Ayrshire breeding gradually decreased.
group of animals, that had impressed so many people at the Göteborg
agricultural fair in 1891 came from Stjernsund, outside Askersund in the county
of Närke, the most important individual herd in the history of the SRB-breed.
From the start of the RSB-association up to 1920 Stjernsund completely dominated
and headed the development of the breed. In the last RSB herd book of 1927 all
bulls had the Ayrshire bull 28 Hero (alias Star of the West AHB 261) in their
pedigree. 28 Hero had been imported as a one year old young bull in 1881.
selling of breeding animals from Stjernsund was exceptional. On an average 35
males and 35 females were sold from the herd of 175 cows in the period 1887 –
|© 2010 Per E.
Falk, Uppsala, Sweden..|
Last updated 27 Mars 2010.