Letter 127 To L Hindmarsh

(127/1. The following letter was in reply to one from Mr. Hindmarsh, to whom Mr. Darwin had written asking for information on the average number of animals killed each year in the Chillingham herd. The object of the request was to obtain information which might throw light on the rate of increase of the cattle relatively to those on the pampas of South America. Mr. Hindmarsh had contributed a paper "On the Wild Cattle of Chillingham Park" to the "Annals and Mag. Nat. Hist." Volume II., page 274, 1839.)

I thank you sincerely for your prompt and great kindness, and return the letter, which I have been very glad to see and have had copied. The increase is more rapid than I anticipated, but it seems rather conjectural; I had hoped that in so interesting a case some exact record had been kept. The number of births, or of calves reared till they followed their mothers, would perhaps have been the best datum. From Mr. Hardy's letter I infer that ten must be annually born to make up the deaths from various causes. In Paraguay, Azara states that in a herd of 4,000, from 1,000 to 1,300 are reared; but then, though they do not kill calves, but castrate the young bulls, no doubt the oxen would be killed earlier than the cows, so that the herd would contain probably more of the female sex than the herd at Chillingham. There is not apparently any record whether more young bulls are killed than cows. I am surprised that Lord Tankerville does not have an exact record kept of deaths and sexes and births: after a dozen years it would be an interesting statistical record to the naturalist and agriculturist.


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