Article Index "American Alpine Registration 10th Cross-Rule" Article Index


By: "Sue Rehyna"

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    I spent much of the weekend looking through old minutes and old Goat World articles . . . and making lots of notes. The tenth cross rule is not as simple as one would think. There's background to be considered. So what you're going to get is a "series" on the subject . . . because my employers have the silly idea I'm here to work. But I must say it's interesting and I suspect I shall, before long, flesh out the bare bones version here and put it into the Alpines International Newsletter or NWODGA News or somewhere. My first clue was a note from the January 1934 Goat World by the AMGRA secretary about the passing of a "...rule governing the registration of grade animals attaining the 10th cross continuously using pure sires of the same breed." (Unhappily, I have not been able to read those minutes for myself because they seem to be missing from my cache of minutes waiting to be put onto disk.) But the note goes on to say that "This was attempted by some breeders in 1924 based upon the 5th cross, but defeated as being lacking in sufficient pure blood to warrant uniform reproduction."

    Wanting to check out this earlier attempt, I went to the 1924 AMGRA minutes to ascertain exactly what this proposal was, but (as we find in our current BOD meetings) it seems the writer's memory was faulty. The only reference to breed acceptance in the 1924 minutes was the discussion of " . . a communication and resolution from Mrs. Mary E. rock to recognize certain lines of breeding and to appoint a committee to investigate and report back at the next meeting."

    I include that resolution here because of previous discussion about Rock Alpines: There having been some very excellent animals produced by crossing one breed on another and commonly known as crossbreeds, notable among which are what are known as the Rock Alpines, be it resolved that a committee of competent, reliable, breeders be appointed at the regular annual meeting of the A.M.G.R.A. to investigate the matter and inspect whether personally, or through one of its members, the herd of Mary E. Rock, of Santa Barbara, who has bred continually the Rock Alpines for the past fifteen years and report back its recommendations relative to admitting said stock to our records as pure Alpines or continuing to credit them with the percent of Toggenburg, Saanen or Nubian blood their tracings show, as heretofore.

    A committee was indeed named (Geo. F. Etzel, W. O. Washburn and Winthrop Howland) but no action was taken on the proposal at this meeting. Because I have not yet located the action related to the "5th Cross proposal," this subject will have to await further research. However, in trying to locate the reference, I did discover that the [rather heated] discussion was really begun, in a formal sense, some years earlier. A series of five articles, written by Dr. Abbi H. Retlaw Selrahc) titled What is the Goal Goat Breeders are Striving to Attain began in the February 1922 issue of Goatworld and continued through June. These articles are subtitles, respectively, Cross-Breds or Pure Breds, Is It Pedigrees?, Is It Official Testing, The Goal, and Applying the Principals of Mendelism to the Breeding of Milk Goats.

    The depth and breadth of the controversy can be seen in the remarkable numbers of accompanying articles, briefs, and letters to the editor in each of these journals . . . and the ones following. Essentially, the "camps" were divided into three groups:

      1) The "purists" who argued (in a near hysterical fashion) that the breeding together of two purebreds of differing persuasions resulted (after the 1st cross) in highly defective progeny that demonstrated an astounding and virtually complete collapse of all systems caprine. Several reasons were cited for the unfortunate popularity of crossbreds, the primary ones being the poor breeding choices being made by those raising purebred stock; the prevalence of "big producing grades" rather than purebreed in goat dairies; the fact "...that many of the men who are really fitted and have the proper education for the breeding of pure breeds are more interested in the experimental side that appeals to them in the producing of crossbreds"; and a prevailing belief that much of the rationale for cross-breeding was based on the fear of in-breeding. An interesting theme that arose from this group was prejudice against horned bucks. Horns were ranked right up there with low milk production. Several writers even suggested that horned bucks should never be sold, no matter their quality.

      2) The opposing camp that was interested more in milk production and vigor than in the maintenance of purebreed stock (clearly those milk producers who refused to get rid of their high producing grades and sink big bucks into purebreds who admittedly weren't milking as well....).

      3) A third group who accepted that some accommodation between the first two groups needed to be made. The proliferation of very poor purebreds (attributed mainly to breeders who considered any purebred to be preferable to any grade without concern for functionality) discouraged their purchase by those breeders who wanted that functionality. As per Selrahc, "There are many pure bred goats that in point of production are but little better than the so-called scrub and in reality they are pure bred scrubs...." This discrepancy in production had resulted in crossbreeding programs focusing on superior type and production and these animals could not in conscience be excluded from future herd books.

    In the March, 1922 Goat World, Dr. J. W. Thompson, in an attempt to reconcile the situation, suggested record books with three divisions: purebreds ("with rigid conditions of admission to the class"); a second division "compassing all grades in process of breeding up to a set standard, either by pedigree solely or aided by performing or producing credits, with a system of rules prescribing the requirements" and a third division, based wholly on performance and production of performers, by both sexes, cataloguing the true aristocrats and supplying a measure of merit that means something." In his fourth installment, The Goal, Dr. Selrahc finally defines the goal as ". . . milk! Milk! MILK! MILK! and notes that "... the keynote of almost every contribution [to Goat World] is MILK. Disease-proof, germ-free milk production is the only real reason for our fussing and bothering with the goat. The advocate of cross-breeding claims in defense of his course that he gets more and better milk. The crank on pedigrees makes the same claims. So also do those who contend for official testing. The goal is the same, but each advocate seems to think, and that honestly too, that his special method is the high road to the goal."

    The tenth cross resolution was indeed introduced at the 1933 A.M.G.R.A. annual meeting and passed unanimously by directors present. The existing rule #11 read: "A doe eligible to registry as an American Saanen, American Toggenburg, American Nubian, American Alpine, etc.; requires five generations of continuous ancestry registered upon the books of this Association." The tenth cross rule continued at this point to say that: "Does of the fifth grade 31/32 pure or those higher only, are acceptable for registry in the American breed classes. Upon attaining the 10th cross representing 1023/1024 pure, the word American shall be dropped and the word Pure used in registering all such."

    In order to understand this vote, and the reason it was unanimously passed in 1933 when it was soundly rejected some 10 years earlier, one must look at events occurring between these years . . . the most critical of which was the Depression. Two articles in Goat World, in February and September 1934 respectively, make clear why the issue arose once again and why the vote was unanimously in favor. These articles were written by Mrs. I.E. Ettien, accredited dairy goat judge and owner with her husband, Judge I.E. Ettien, of the very well known La Suise herd of Oakdale goat Ranch in Wareagle, Arkansas. (La Suise was, by the way, accepted by ADGA as an historic herd name in 1981).

    The first article, Purity at the End of the Trail, shows Mrs Ettien's felt need for the passage of the tenth cross rule because of the handicap put upon breeders who were obliged to use poor quality imports as herdsires in order for progeny to be registerable (therefore pulling down the overall quality of their herds and frustrating those trying to upgrade the species in America). She cited the embarrassment of judging shows where observers were appalled by her placing obviously superior animals behind inferior purebreds . . . simply because they weren't "pure."

    Specifically she saw the 10th cross rule as benefiting the Alpine breed: "It is going to prove a great boon too in that newer breed in this country -- the French alpine. With so few lines to begin with in the pure French Alpine a rather dangerous amount of inbreeding has been going forward. When we may have the Rock alpine and later on the American Alpine added to these fine French Alpines we will be really getting somewhere." She speaks finally to beginners in the goat industry as the major beneficiaries of the 10th cross rule, "The pioneers of the industry have blazed the trail. You will not experience the hardships and disappointments we older breeders have passed through."

    Her second article, Breeds in the Making, Mrs. Ettien speaks even more strongly of the need for the 10th cross rule. She states that in accepting 10th cross as pure, " . . . A.M.G.R.A. has fallen in line with other progressive associations and saved the industry from stagnation." She speaks of these 10th cross animals as "masterpieces" and she cited the situation in Europe where such animals were accepted as pure in many less generations and noted that Americans had quit registering their grade animals because they could only register does and not bucks out of clearly superior lines. (Winthrop Howland (Goat World, Dec 1935) describes the Swiss view of purebreds, "In Switzerland goats are not registered on blood-lines, but certain individuals of the Swiss breeds are judged at shows and if deemed worthy as individuals are admitted to registration as pure-blood" but also noted that "...while all goats of correct appearance are considered as pure blood, goats of different breeds there are cross-mated, therefore when we import goats from Switzerland, we have no guarantee that they are purebred."

    It is in this article that she addresses the role of the Depression as a "landmark," when discouraged breeders, unable to register their own superior "grade" bucks, either quit the business entirely or, after registering their superior grades for years, simply quit registering any of their animals. Since their animals were no longer registered anyway, they began using their own superior but unregisterable bucks . . . and began to boast quite publicly of the rapid gains in excellence achieved through these breedings (rather that having to go back, as mentioned above, to those "inferior imported sires....") THEN, Mrs. Ettien gets to the bottom line, " . . . such a state of affairs is not good for any record association -- and it was not good for the A.M.G.R.A. A record association needs animals to record!" She does go on to state that A.M.G.R.A. was losing prestige with many important breeders because of their refusal to recognize the "great excellence of these American made animals, although they had accepted the English made Nubian and the French made Alpine."

    It is important to note that by this time many of these important breeders were now directors and officers of A.M.G.R.A. Mrs. Ettien, who owned a herd of these "superior" animals, was herself a director. The 10th cross resolution was submitted by Mr.& Mrs. Winthrop Howland of Pacific Beach, California . . . Mr. Howland being described by Mrs. Ettien as "...the oldest director, pioneer breeder and one may say father of the industry in California (another breeder of these exemplary animals, his El Chivar herd name was also accepted by ADGA as an historic herd name in 1981).

    Mrs. Ettien states that "... every world record milking Toggenburg doe traces to his breeding" Mr Howland himself, in the December 1935 issue of Goat World, wrote an article titled, My Reasons for Advocating the Adoption of the Tenth Cross Rule, in which defended his submission of the proposal and tried to answer the outcry from those who stridently opposed the passage of the 10th cross rule (who insisted it would destroy the American goat industry and was passed without adequate notice, etc.) He notes first that "having been actively engaged in the milk goat industry continuously since 1907 and having been a director of the A.M.G.R.A. continuously since 1909, it may be assumed I have the welfare of the industry at heart, and if for any reason I believed the industry would be injured by the Tenth Cross Rule I never would have sponsored it. He then asks the reader to consider the most desirable qualifications for a milk goat -- listing them as milk production, ruggedness of constitution and beauty of appearance -- and suggests that if one " . . . can develop such a strain of goats starting with an unregistered dam, why should any objection be made to such animals being admitted to registration as purebreds?"

    He cites the Swiss as an example to follow. He then follows the line of grade Toggenburgs he developed, beginning with a native doe from Catalina Island that was caught there as a kid in 1907, to his current outstanding and record holding El Chivar does. It might be noted that, under unfinished business in the 1934 annual meeting minutes, is the following: ". . . the Secretary stated he held several resolutions bearing upon the same subject and it was decided to submit all that same may be considered and acted upon separately. This was done by reading them in the order they had been received, namely, one from Mrs. W. T. Sparks and the Misses Kirby and Saunders requesting the repeal of the rule made at last meeting recognizing the 10th cross as pure and the cancellation of all such now so registered; one by Mr. and Mrs. Winthrop Howland to table above motion; one by Mr and Mrs. I. E. Ettien to maintain the 10th cross rule; one by Mr. Don Allen to retain the rule but to modify it by designation on certificate, the rule under which it was issued.

    Letters sent to the Secretary requesting him to hand them to others to be read on this subject at this meeting by Mr. and Mrs. Howland, with an enclosure. One from Mr. and Mrs. Ettien and others all of whom stated their views and reasons for same. This became tedious and the members grew restless for action. These first two letters were read by Messrs. Large and Vigal. Mr. Diener commented upon the letters read and countered by reading letters from himself to the Misses Kirby and Saunders, also letters from Secretary TeWalt to these ladies in which there seemed to be nothing but the most cordial feeling existing between the Misses Kirby and Saunders, Mr. Diener and the Secretary, each of the later speaking in the highest terms of all of the others including Mrs. Sparks. Mr. Diener moved the adoption of the Sparks, Kirby and Saunders resolution, which was lost for the lack of a second.

    Without a motion before the house, general discussion prevailed. Mr. Diener again moved the adoption of the sparks, Kirby and Saunders resolution and again lost for lack of a second Mr. Diener moved to adjourn which was not seconded. Mrs. Hoodwin commented upon the 10th cross . . . Mr. Diener moved none of the above resolutions bearing upon the 10th cross be considered. Seconded by Mr. Wilson. Carried unanimously."

    In December 1935, A. duBois Freeman answered publicly a "circular letter" written by Mr Timothy Brownhill, Manager, Better Way Farm, Spring Valley, Calif. This letter evidently did all but ask for the removal from office of all those involved in passage of the 10th cross rule, citing the "underhanded way in which it was made." Mr Freeman answers him,"Our directors are -- nearly all-- the oldest living importers and breeders of milk goats in this country. If they do not know about what is best for, and most in the interest of the industry; their wisdom gained at much cost, through years and years of experience, experimentation, and close observation; who, can we reasonably suppose, is better qualified for their places, who can repudiate their rulings, and replace them in office? . . .

    When such almost life-long breeders as the Howlands, the Ettiens, TeWalts, and many other old breeders, of unquestioned reputations, have, themselves proposed the "Tenth Cross" rule as an aid to the further advancement of the industry; and with patriotic sentiments toward both the Milk Goat Industry, and our own country, in the establishment of American Purebreds, instead of playing lackey to foreign countries; or the breeders of foreign countries, who only laugh at our child-like simplicity, and want of pride in our own capabilities, and country." [yes, that's his own syntax] He also notes that the Tenth Cross move was suggested and urged by officials of the Department of Industry, in Washington, D.C., long before it was taken. Ironically, he suggests that "...there never has been anything to hinder persons so inclined from organizing their own association of fancy stock breeders, with limits as narrow as they wish..."

    P. S. The first ad noting the incorporation of the American Goat Society "for the purpose of establishment, maintenance and publication of pedigree records of purebred dairy goats . . ." appears in the October 1935 issue of Goat World.

    GoatWorld Editor Note: Please note that references to "Goat World" within this article refer to a separate entity entitled "Goat World" that existed many years ago. I am extremely happy to be carrying the torch for a name that has already been previously used but out of respect for this entity, we have chosen to use the name GoatWorld and not Goat World so there shall be no conflict of interest.

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