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Retrieval Number: 8743/2
Register of shorthorn stock purchased by James D. Dixon, 1866-1872.
Mount Allison University Archives, James D. Dixon fonds.
May be reproduced only with permission of Mount Allison University Archives

The movement in British North America toward importing pure bred animals and of being attentive to maintaining the selected qualities of these breeds had started in the 19th-century with gentlemen farmers, many of whom had the time and wealth to engage in such practices. Their efforts were promoted by the early agricultural societies who encouraged farmers to show their livestock through competitions and prize giving. These societies often imported breeding stock as a means to start farmers toward improvement. For many farmers these activities were seen to be the indulgences of the well-off, and until market forces rewarded the added cost of acquiring such stock, most ordinary farmers were reluctant to adopt these livestock. The first shorthorn importations to Westmorland probably took place in 1839, when Amos Botsford and William Crane acquired animals in England. By the second half of the 19th-century however, all farmers were becoming much more attuned to the economic benefits that derived from raising “improved livestock.” Shorthorns were one of the breeds that gained early favour for their ability to serve the dual purpose of supplying milk while also producing good beef. This document records the details of the Shorthorn cows and bulls acquired and subsequently sold by James Dixon beginning in 1866. Dixon starts his breeding herd by acquiring a sire named Brunswick and a dame named Peerless from Ontario. These animals and their offspring were then registered in the New Brunswick Herd Book, and in some cases in the Canadian Herd Book, a step that ensured their value because would-be buyers could verify their pedigree and track their genetic offspring. The fact that this activity was occurring on the Tantramar provides an important indicator of the level of agricultural development taking place on the marshes in this period and suggests that many farmers had reached a new level of specialization and commercial farming.

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