Percheron breeders and dealers pioneered the pure-bred horse industry in North America.
The Trotter family of the Draft Horse Farm combined a keen interest in the Percheron breed with their successful farm operation. The farm's impact on the Percheron in America stems from their importation of seven stallions including Success and French Emperor from the former province of La Perche, France, the native home of these wonderful specimens of the draft horse class. The operations of the Draft Horse Farm in the way of importing and breeding only the best types of pure-bred Percherons gave this industry the needed impetus with the result that in 1912 United States breeders annually imported about 10,000 pure-bred Percherons from the land of their origin.
Mr. Trotter set a high standard due to the excellent quality of his initial importation and since that time both he and his son who succeeded him as manager of this business have always endeavored to improve the character of their sale animals. And, of the 9,000 stallions and mares which have been sold from the their stables none have been discountenanced or condemned by their purchasers on account of latent defect or blemish.
The wealth of the Draft Horse Farm has been earned as a result of intelligent farming and through the pure-bred Percheron horse business. Every operation of the place is carried out with an eye to utility and efficiency. The feeding methods and general care accorded to the horses in no wise transgress this ideal. Practically all the feed supplied to the animals is home grown and this fact alone explains a large element of the success of the project.
The Draft Horse Farm brood mares are maintained in individual box stalls fourteen by twenty feet in size, each stall opening directly onto a paddock in which the mare can run at will during the winter thereby getting the necessary exercise to maintain her in top breeding condition. These box stalls are all well ventilated and lighted, bedded deeply with fine straw as well as being provided with handy iron feed racks, accessible mangers and salt boxes.
The brood mares receive a ration of one part of corn to one-half part of crushed pats, and a similar amount of bran which is supplemented by equal parts of timothy and clover hay. For about a month after a mare foals she is given a daily bran mash as a laxative and regulator.
The young foal runs with his dam and is allowed access to whole oats as soon as he will begin to nibble at them, usually at the age of four weeks, the oats being placed in a feed box where the youngster can get at them, but where they are not accessible to the mare. The colts are weaned at the age of six months at which time they receive a ration of crushed oats, bran, and clover and timothy hay.
All through the summer they run on pasture in addition to their grain diet, as the motto of the farm is to develop an abundance of bone, size, vigor, and vitality in the young animals and to grow them rather than to attempt to store up excessive fat during the initial years of their lives.
Ten barns, each of which accommodates eight colts, two youngsters occupying one of the large box stalls about twenty-five by forty feet in dimension, furnish quarters for the young Percherons.
A door from each stall opens directly to the paddocks and pasture lands while all the grain and roughage is directly above each stall and it requires one man only a few minutes to feed all the colts. There are twenty-one horse barns at Draft Horse Farm, those of the brood mares accommodating twenty animals per barn, being arranged with a central feeding alley and exits leading from each stall to the adjacent pastures.
During fly season the mares are housed in the daytime and liberated in the pastures at night, but during the other periods of the summer and fall they run on pasture all the time. At least fourteen of the mares are used annually in performing the necessary farm work, as such a practice keeps these females in the pink of condition and results in their bearing strong, vigorous foals.
The dams are worked right up to the time of foaling, but are excused from hard labor during the period when they are raising their colts. Were it possible, every mare on the place would be worked, but there is not sufficient labor for all of them to be engaged so that the majority must obtain their exercise in frolicking around the pastures with their mates
The stallions flourish on a diet of crushed oats, bran, cooked barley, and cooked sugar beets, about equal parts of these ingredients composing the mixture. The supplementary roughage consists of as much clover and timothy hay as the sires will clean up. The barley and beets are cooked in order to improve their palatability and digestibility, the steaming hot combination being mixed about four or five hours before feeding time so that the moist slop will be greatly relished by the stallions. Each male receives about twelve quarts at his night and morning meals, while at noon he gets about four quarts of oats.
Every stud has an individual box stall and a convenient paddock in winch he can canter about, while each of the stallions is daily led about two miles at a good clip over the country roads in order to maintain him in tiptop shape.
Thousands of Percheron stallions have been at least temporary residents at Draft Horse Farm, but in the farm's history no attendant or hired hand has ever been killed or even seriously injured by a vicious sire.
This is the result of careful horse farm management in addition to the fact that the Percheron breed is especially docile and easily cared for.