ACCOUNTS OF FERTILE MULES AND HINNIES
Mules (donkey stallion/horse mare) are bred as draught animals. Mules and hinnies are depicted in Egyptian art circa 1400 BC and were valued as draught animals by the Romans. Male mules are sterile, but fertile female mules (mollies) sometimes occur and can be mated to either a horse or donkey stallion. The hinny (horse stallion/donkey mare hybrid) is less common. The head of a hinny is more horse-like than the head of a mule. They are harder to produce than mules as stallion/jenny matings are less likely to result in pregnancy. Hinnies are smaller and finer boned than mules. This was believed to be due to the donkey mare having a less roomy womb, but the difficulty in impregnation suggests it is largely genetic. Donkeys have 62 chromosomes while horses have 64 chromosomes; hybrids are less likely where the male has more chromosomes than the female.
Goldsboro’ Messenger (North Carolina), 31st Jan, 1878
It is a wise law of nature that mules, the produce of animals of different species, are not fertile; else species would become irrevocably mixed. In relation to mules, the produce of the horse and jenny, there are records of occasional fertility of female mules in Spain and Italy, and an instance in Kentucky, we recollect being recorded some time since. In tropical climates this is said to occur much oftener. Indeed, Columella and Cato, classical authority, state that in Africa, female mules were nearly aa profiflc as mares. This, however, may be taken with very considerable allowance. Certain it is, in the temperate zones they are rarely fertile, and in more northern climates never so. [More likely the “mules” observed by Columella and Cato were purebred large species of African ass.]
The Courier Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), 7th November, 1881
“now we have a well-authenticated case of a fertile mule.” The London Livestock Journal describes the remarkable case, observing that “one of the curiosities m the Paris Jardin d’Acclimation ia a mule, Catherine, which was purchased several years ago while on her way through Paris with a Barb stallion and a foal by this horse, to the exhibition at Vienna. When purchased by the Paris society she was again in foal to the same horse. Since she has been in Paris she has thrown two more foals — by a jackass — which are named Salem and Atham, and which may be seen every day drawing the small tramway cars from the Jardin d'Acclimation to the gates of Paris. Her fifth and last produce is a four-months colt foal by the Barb sire referred to above, which has been named Kroumir.”
WILD HORSES, ASSES, AND ZEBRAS. HYBRID EQUIDAE.
The Field, 10th June 1893
IT WOULD APPEAR that all the different species of the genus Equus are capable of breeding together and producing hybrid offspring, some of which are perfectly sterile mules, whilst others are undoubtedly fertile, either with one or other parent species, if not inter se. Some of these are of great economic value, and it is deeply to be regretted that the opportunities that have presented themselves in our European zoological collections have not been utilised as they might have been in introducing new species into the service of man, in improving such species as the Equus asinus, that has long been domesticated, and in producing other useful hybrids beyond the common mule.
There can be no doubt that many most useful hybrids, some of which in all probability would have proved perfectly fertile, could have been effected in the zoological gardens in Europe had any serious attempt been made to utilise them as regards the improvement of domestic animals. At the present time, I propose to enumerate, far as practical, the hybrids that have been produced, commencing with those of the horse. The hybrids between the horse and the ass are well known under the names of mule and hinny. The mule is the offspring of the male ass and the mare. In this country the mule is not appreciated at its full value. There is an undue prejudice against its employment, and unreasoning prejudices are the most difficult of all to overcome. The facts that tens of thousands of mules are bred annually in America, and that in the large district of the Deux Sevres in the south of France mule raising forms the chief industry of the country, are ignored in England, where the mule is regarded as an inferior animal, until such time as it is required for active service in the army, when its powers of endurance, under the severest work and the hardest conditions, are recognised, and mules are obtained wherever they can be found. In India male asses are regularly imported from Europe for the purpose of keeping up the supply of good mules for the army. Some years since Mr C. L. Sutherland made the most strenuous and laudable endeavours to introduce the Poitou mule into this country, but with extremely limited success. As might be imagined under these circumstance, the greatest misconception prevails, not only with regard to the capabilities of this hybrid, bat also concerning its natural history. Thus in the third edition of "Farm Live Stock,”'by Bob. Wallace, Professor of Agriculture in the University of Edinburgh, 1893, it is stated that
“The mule is generally believed to be barren but this is not so in the case of the female mule and the female hinny. The foal of the she mule, which may be got by either a jack (donkey) or a stallion (horse), is, however, seldom born alive.” (p. 211.)
It would be interesting to know the writer's authority for such a statement. Mr Sutherland, who has paid more attention to mule production and mule industry than any man in this kingdom, knows of no instance of a female mule producing young, and M. Ayrault, in his valuable treatise "De Mulassiere," says, that in Poitou, where 40,000 mares era annually employed in breeding mules, such a thing as a fertile mule is unknown, although these young mules are placed in the most favourable conditions for being mated, as they are constantly in the pastures with the young horse colts. M. Ayrault's exact words are as follows :
“Nous ne rechercherons pas ce que cette opinion peut avoir de fond, mais ce que nous tenons a constater c’est que jamais en Poitou on n’a entendue parler de la gestation de la mule, bien que la, a part la temperature, elle se trouve dans les meilleurs conditions pour etre fecondee, puisqu’elle est contamment en contact, dans les pasturages, avec des poulaines (horse colts), que souvent les saillissent.” (p. 152)
To this it may be replied that there a well-known instance in the Acclimatisation Gardens in Paris, where a mule in said to have produced foals when mated both with the horse and the ass. As this is supposed to be the most authentic case on record, I think it desirable to reproduce from a photograph an exact representation of this supposed fertile female mule, which has been most carefully, and I must say most accurately, drawn by Mr Frohawk. I am quite of one opinion with Mr Sutherland, that this animal is not a mule at all. There is, in fact, no mule character about her beyond the slight increase in the size of the ears. The particulars of her parentage are utterly unknown, and she is merely supposed to be a mule by the authorities is the gardens. It is not at all improbable that the exceedingly slight asinine character which she possesses is due to her female parent having been put to a donkey and bred a mule in the first instance, and as in the well-known cases of mares which have been mated with quaggas and zebras, her subsequent progeny, when mated with a horse, shows some trace of the first union. Mr Sutherland, the late Mr Ayrault , and all persons who are really cognisant of the matter, regard this animal not as a mule, but as an ordinary mare. I have photographs her offspring both from the ass and the horse parentage. Those bred from the ass are simply ordinary mules, whereas if she were a mule they should be three-fourths asinine and only one-fourth equine, which is not the case. Her progeny by the horse are horses pure and simple. There can be no doubt in my mind that this is not a rare case of fertile mule breeding, the animals is really simply and ordinary mare, whose female parent shows evidence of a first alliance, as is soe often the case in dogs and other animals.
The examples of lactation in the mule, which not unfrequently occur, are sometimes regarded as proof of fertility of the animal, but in reality they are not. In the Field of April 17, 1880, I described at some length the case of an aged female mule, once the property of Messrs. Flower, or Stratford-on-Avon, that had adopted a young male donkey, nearly a year old, and had secreted milk for its sustenance, the secretion being doubtless stimulated by the efforts made by the donkey to suck; similar cases are well known in America, where mules are turned out to grass in company with mare and foals, and are frequent in other animals such as cats and bitches.
The hinny of the male horse and female as is not so frequently bred as the mule. Its characters, however, are of considerable interest, as demonstrating very conclusively the relative influence of the male and female parent, when two distinct species are united to as to produce a hybrid progeny. The mule, especially when bred from the large draught mares, as in Poitou, shows that the size and external characters are derived from the female parent; whereas hinnies are always far smaller in size and more asinine in external characters. In power of endurance they rival the mule, and some striking instance are on record of exceedingly long distances traversed by them without their manifesting any marked signs of fatigue.
The Field, 19th September 1896
The question has been raised as to whether zebra and horse hybrids will or will not be sterile mules, like those bred between the ass and the horse, of which an authentic fertile animal has never been known, although a short time since one of the officers of the British Museum stated that the mule was fertile with either parent, and that he had seen two in a Swiss drove of fifty, an extraordinary assertion to be made when taken in connection with the statement of M. Arault that, although 50,000 mares are annually employed in breeding mules in the Poitou district, such a thing as a fertile mule is unknown, though they are placed in the most favourable conditions for being mated in the pastures and on the mantles, with the young horse colts. - W.B. TEGETMEIER
A FERTILE MULE
The Field, 17th September 1898
Sir. - A most unusual event occurred in the Kapurthala State, India; indeed, it seems to be the only one on record. A mule belonging to a potter in the above state gave birth to a male foal on the day after its return from the Tirah Field Force. Parturition occurred on Aug. 6 during the night and on information being given to the Prime Minister of the State, Sirdar Bhagat Singh, C.I.E. he at once went to see it early the following morning. The greatest excitement has been caused in the town of Kapurthala by this extraordinary occurrence, and the pundits are all at a loss to know what to think about it. They say that such an event has never been known before, and the Hindu shastras say that whenever a mule becomes pregnant it must die before giving birth to the young. Large crowds go daily to see the mother and foal, and the pundits are consulting the stars and shastras as to what is portended by the event.
When Sirdar Bhagat Singh saw that the mule had really dropped a foal he at once communicated with the Civil Veterinary Department, and after making further inquiries I proceeded to the Kapurthala State and took the photographs, which I send you by this post. Veterinary-Capt. Joslen, officiating principal of the Lahore Veterinary College accompanies, and he will vouch for the correctness of these statements . The mule must have been covered by a pony while proceeding with the transport to the frontier war. As will be seen, she foal is beautifully formed, and has the appearance of a pony foal with very small ears. The mother is about twelve years old, and stands 11-and-a-quarter hands, and is a very typical Indian transport mule. The following extract from a book on Horses, Asses, Zebras, Mules, and Male Breeding," by Messrs Tegetmeier and Sutherland, will no doubt be interesting :
As far as is known from accurate observation, Male and female mules and hinnies are absolutely sterile, although certain accounts of fertile female mules have occasionally appeared in print. Capt. Haler, a very practical authority writing on this subject states:- “Neither the mule (the produce of the jackass and mare) nor the hinny or jennet (the cross between the horse and the she ass is fertile, either among themselves or with other members of the horse family. Those animals which have been mistaken by superficial observers as fertile mules have been, I venture to say, in most cases, the offspring of mares that have previously bred to donkeys, and have endowed their young with some of the characteristics of their former asinine lovers. Both the mule and the jennet respectively ‘take after’ their dam in size and their sire in appearance and disposition.” Those persons who have paid the greatest amount of attention to mule production and mule industry know of no instance of a female mule producing young, and M. Ayrault, in his valuable treatise “De l’Industrie Mulassiere,” the standard work on mule breeding in France, says that in Poitou where 50,000 mares are annually employed in breeding mules, such a thing as a fertile mule is unknown, although these young mules are placed in the most favourable conditions for being mated, as they are constantly in the pastures and on the marshes with the young horse colts. M. Ayrault’s exact words are as follows: “Nous ne rechercherons pas ce que cette opinion peut avoir de fond, mais ce que nous tenons a constater c’est que jamais en Poitou on n’a entendue parler de la gestation de la mule, bien que la, a part la temperature, elle se trouve dans les meilleurs conditions pour etre fecondee, puisqu’elle est contamment en contact, dans les pasturages, avec des poulaines (horse colts), que souvent les saillissent.” (p. 152)
To this it may be replied that there is a well-known instance in the Acclimatisation gardens in Paris where a mule has produced foals when mated both with the horse and the ass. As this is supposed to be the most authentic case on record, it has been thought desirable to reproduce from a photograph an exact representation of this supposed fertile female mule, which has been most carefully drawn by Mr Frohawk. It is doubtful whether the animal is a mule. There is but little mule character about her beyond the slight increase in the size of the ears. The particulars of her parentage are utterly unknown, and she was merely alleged to be a mule by the Algerian natives who sold her to the authorities in the gardens. It is not all improbably that her female parent has bred a mule in the first instance, and, as in the well-known cases of mares which have been mated with quaggas and zebras, her subsequent progeny, when mated with a horse, shows some trace of the first union. The late M. Ayrault, and most persons who are really cognisant of the matter, regard this animal, not as a mule, but as an ordinary mare. She has foaled both to the ass and the horse. Her foals from the ass appear to be ordinary mules, and are sterile, whereas, if she were a mule, they should be three-fourths asinine and only one-fourth equine, which is not the case. Her progeny by the horse are horses which have proved fertile. It would appear most probably that this is not a case of a fertile mule breeding, but that the animal is really an ordinary mare whose female parent was influenced by a first alliance, as is so often the case in dogs and other animals.
There is no doubt that the majority of the accounts of supposed fertile mules owe their origin to the fact that abnormal lactation not unfrequently occurs in them, when milk is secreted in great abundance, and they may be seen suckling the foals of other animals. This singular phenomenon is not confined to mules, but is well-known to occur in many other species. Numerous examples are on record. The most important, as having a direct bearing on the subject, was recorded in a letter printed my Mr W.B. Tegetmeier in the Field of April 17, 1880, in which he says: “The case, however, which I am about to put on record, is, I think, unprecedented, inasmuch as it is that of a sterile hybrid animal suckling another. The facts are as follows: An aged brown female mule that formerly, when in the possession of Messrs Flower of Stratford-on-Avon, had taken prizes at the large shows as a heavy draught mule, passed into the stables of Mr Cole, of Church-street, Chelsea, who is well-known as one who has employed mule labour with great advantage for many years. I accompanied Mr C. L. Sutherland to the stables of Mr Cole, where we saw the mule in question, and a young male donkey nearly a year old. This donkey foal had been bought, and allowed to run about the stable yard. It had been noticed to follow the mule, and at night to go into her stall at the further end of the stable, where he was observed sucking the mule, whose udder, on examination, was found fully charged with milk. Thinking the proceeding rather "unnatural," Mr Cole had the donkey removed, and the mule milked by band ; but this was not done to a sufficient extent, and, in consequence, milk abscess occurred, which opened, the udder having previously swollen to a very large size. This case is interesting, inasmuch as it proves that the secretion of milk can take place in a hybrid animal which is sterile, and that it has no necessary connection with the maternal relations. This example is not by any means a solitary one. A communication from the late Mr J.B. Evans, of the Cape Colony, appeared in the Live Stock Journal of June 23, 1893, in which he spoke of a mare mule having to be milked, as each year she had adopted a foal, driving the mother away, and secreting milk in abundance for the support of the foal that she had fostered. Accounts not unfrequently appear in the American and other papers of mules which are seen suckling young, and the conclusion is at once arrived at that these young are the offspring of the animals that are supporting them, but it may be regarded as perfectly certain that they are merely adopted foals which be the endeavours to such female mules have developed in the latter abnormal lactation.”
In the present case, however, there can be no doubt about the genuineness. The foal was dropped at midnight, and was seen the next morning by large crowds, including the Prime Minister, a Sikh gentleman of the highest respectability. The Sirdar states that the appearance of the genital parts and the large udder left no doubt that the mule gave birth to a foal. – W.D. GUNN, Veterinary Capt. Asst. to the Inspector-General, Civil Veterinary Dept, Simla, Aug. 24.
Capt, Gunn forwarded five photographs of the mule and foal; we have reproduced two. – ED. [too poor quality to put on this web-page.]
A FERTILE MARE MULE
A. H. GROTH. A. and M. College of Texas (Journal of Heredity)
THE mule is generally accused of having no pride of ancestry nor hope of posterity. So far no mule has been found to cause the first offense to be doubted, but in "Old Beck," an ancient mare mule owned by the A. & M. College of Texas there is at least one mule that has caused some doubt as to the lack of hope of posterity. In June, 1920, an article entitled "Days of Miracles" appeared in The Farm and Ranch, a weekly farm journal published in Dallas, Texas. This article was signed by Mr. L. T. Branham of Montalba, Texas and told of a mare mule giving birth to a live female offspring sired by a jack. A picture of the mare mule and her foal accompanied the article. A few weeks later Professor W. L. Stangel, at that time connected with the Animal Husbandry Department of the A.& M. College of Texas, visited Mr. Branham. Professor Stangel arranged for the loan of the mare mule and colt to the college and at the same time secured affidavits from the owner and his neighbors certifying to the birth of the colt. "Old Beck" and her daughter arrived at College Station, Texas on August 11, 1921. She was found to be a very ordinary bay mule that would be classed as a cotton mule. There was nothing about her appearance to attract attention for there are thousands of mules like her helping the Texas farmers cultivate their crops. She weighed 850 pounds and stood 13.2 hands. At that time her age was given as twenty-one years. The colt [filly] was a dark bay in color and gave promise of developing into a larger individual than her dam. All of her characteristics were those of a mule and she did not show any more characteristics of her sire than does an average mule. "Old Beck" was mated to a jack in August 1921 and rebred in September. She failed to foal in 1922. On October 25, 1922 she was bred to the bay saddle stallion, Pat Murphy, and on September 26, 1923 foaled a living stallion colt. This colt is bay in color with a white star and three white feet as shown by the picture. He had all of the characteristics of his sire except that his left ear drooped and the left side of his forehead lacked the fullness of the right side. At the time of service Pat Murphy was nineteen years old and at the time of foaling "Old Beck" was twenty-two. The colt was born in the pasture of the Animal Husbandry Department and was seen by the members of the department within thirty minutes of the time it arrived. Its hair was not yet dry. Other members of the college staff who saw the colt at that time were Dr. Mark Francis, Dean of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. R. P. Marstellar, of the Veterinary School, arid Dean E. J. Kyle, Dean of Agriculture.
"Old Beck" was not rebred until the following March when she was mated to a jack. On December 24, 1924 she aborted an abnormal foetus. It had but one eye, that in the center of the forehead, and the upper jaw was entirely undeveloped [i.e. cyclopia]. Members of the Veterinary Staff declared that it could not have lived even though it had been carried the full gestation period. During 1923 Pat Murphy died so in the spring of 1925 Beck was again mated with the jack but she has failed to settle even though rebred at regular intervals. The older colt [filly] has been mated at various times with stallions and jacks and also with her half brother, 'but has never conceived. In July 1925 Pat Murphy Jr., the colt by the stallion, served one mare but she failed to settle. No more mares were bred to him that year. During March, 1926, two more mares were bred to him and on February 14, 1927 one of them foaled a perfectly formed bay stud foal. It is not known whether or not the other mare settled for she was never returned for trial. This year several mares were bred and a closer check will be made on them. This horse has developed into a nicely balanced horse of saddle type. He is 14 hands in height and weighs 980 pounds. He performs well under saddle and is possessed of remarkable intelligence. The only mule characteristic which he shows is his dislike for crossing a ditch or a stream.
Many people who have not seen "Old Beck" have been doubtful as to whether or not she really is a mule, but was rather a jennet or a hinny. No one who has seen her has doubted her being a mule. In order to gain all possible knowledge as to the species of "Old Beck" and her family, samples of their blood was sent to the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, New York City. Dr. K. Landsteiner of the Institute, who examined the samples reported as follows: "I have examined the three samples of blood sent by you, according to the method outlined in my paper in the Journal of Immunology, Volume 9, Page 213. It was found that the samples marked "Beck" and "Kate" re-acted exactly like the blood of mules. The sample marked "Pat" seems to behave differently from the other two .I should, however, not like to make a definite statement as to the sample before a more extensive study has been undertaken. I may be able to make such a study at a future date." Signed K. LANDSTEINER.
Since "Old Beck's" case has come to light, several others have been reported but no definite proof has been available concerning any of them.
MULES THAT BREED. Occasional Cases Reported, Some of Them with Good Evidence—Two Recent Cases in America—Studies of Germ-Cells Indicate that Chance of Mule Breeding is Very Slight
ORREN LLOYD-JONES, Associate Professor of Animal Husbandry, Iowa State College, Ames, Iowa
DURING the three or four thousand years in which mules have been habitually produced, there have been many conflicting statements of fact and theory in regard to the question of possible fertility among these animals. Numerous incidents and cases are on record calculated to prove that mules occasionally exhibit generative powers. The affirmative side of the case may be opened by the French zoologist Andre Sanson ('88), who uncompromisingly maintains (Vol.III, p. 145) the occasional fertility of female mules. He says "it does not seem inadmissible that the males of the same origin as the females which show themselves so easily fertile, would not themselves behave similarly," and again "if there are fertile males, as we are sure at present that there are fertile females . . ." Sanson's claims are unusually broad—most writers are more conservative. N. S. Shailer ('95) comments on the "singular fact that in only two or three cases have mules become fecund." Cossar Ewart ('93) states that mules are generally incapable of procreation, "though some exceptions to this rule have occurred." Whitehead ('08) in discussing the mule makes the parenthetical remark that ''the cross between a female mule and a stallion is known to have resulted in offspring."
Stories accompanied by statements of eye-witnesses, of the birth of a foal by a mule, and affidavits as to the true hybrid nature of the mother, present obvious difficulties to those who would summarily set aside the whole matter of fecund mules as a thing of myth and anecdote. At the time of publishing the book on ‘Horses, Asses and Mule Breeding’ in 1895, Tegetmier was a thorough disbeliever in all such cases, but in 1897, speaking of fertile mules, he mentions a case reported from Mexico and says that "this is one of the most detailed accounts of fertility in mules that has come under my notice," and urges caution in opinionating.
PREJUDICE IS STRONG. Skinner (Youatt, 1854) examined very carefully the first-hand evidence in regard to the celebrated Norfolk case of a breeding female mule and proved to his own satisfaction its authenticity. He also recognized the deep-seated prejudice which people have against giving credence to fertility among mules for he naively remarks that "Whatever doubt may arise hereafter, there is none now, of the truth of this case" (p. 432.) In this case the owner had noticed an abdominal enlargement in his female mule and had adjusted the shafts and harness to accommodate it, "but never suspected the mother's being in foal because it was contrary to nature." On April 23, 1834, she unexpectedly produced a colt [foal]. The mule had previously pastured with a 2-year-old stallion. Subsequently on August 13, 1835, the same mule produced another colt [foal], a female. Both colts [foals] seemed normal, but died when a few months old. Mr. Gun, an English military veterinarian in India, and apparently a faithful and efficient exponent of his profession presents (Field, September 17, 1898) in elaborate detail the events accompanying parturition in an Indian transport mule. This is indeed a case hard to refute.
Two cases recently reported have come before me and I have been able to collect some evidence on the matter in the shape of statements and photographs. One case first appeared in the November issue of the American Journal of Veterinary Medicine, Chicago, and again in American Farming for February, 1916. The facts presented below were furnished me by the owner and the veterinarian who attended the case. J. M. Bryant, of Quincy, Ind., about nine years ago bred a dark chestnut "half blood" Percheron stallion to a black Spanish jennet. The hinny thus produced is now 8 years old, 14 and-a-half hands high and weighs 900 pounds. Her whole aspect is very ass-like, especially her hind parts, but Mr. Bryant says her head has more the appearance of her sire—her ears being dark chestnut color, the same as the stallion. The tail shows a good brush or switch while the ass has a "rat tail." She has never brayed like a jennet. Some have doubted her breeding until they heard her voice, which resembles more the neigh of a horse. Twice before the present case this female produced foals, but in both cases the birth was abnormal and the colts died. Dr. L. A. Ray, the veterinarian who attended the birth in question, says of these earlier foals, "They were much deformed and were unable to swallow, and one had a double head from the eyes down."
This "hinny" was bred to a gray mammoth jack on July 7, 1914, and on July 11, 1915, produced the pair of twins shown in the cut (Fig. 5). The twins were both females. One was 25 inches high, black with white points, and lived only 7 days. The other was 30 inches high and gray in color. Dr. Ray on February 17, 1916,reports this colt [foal] as “very peculiar in make-up and make-up and very unthrifty." A letter from the owner, April 26, reports this gray colt (three-fourths ass and one-fourth horse) as doing well: '”she seems to have the large bone of the horse above the knees, and below the knee the foot is small like a jack; it shows the Percheron one-eighth in the square hip. The colt makes a very peculiar noise, unlike any animal I ever heard." Mr. Bryant has bred the "hinny" this year to a spotted Welsh pony and hopes to get a foal three-fourths horse and one-fourth ass. He says he has been about 10 years breeding for a "grade mule"—and if the present colt lives he believes he will "have the breed started."
Through the courtesy of Glen Hayes, editor of American Farming, the following case was called to my attention; the statements are quoted from correspondence with the owner, D. W. Sullivan, of Weed, Cal. Mr. Sullivan states that the female in Fig. 6 is out of a standard bred mare by a Mammoth Jack. This "mule" was put to a black Percheron stallion and on May 31, 1915, produced the male foal shown in the picture. The picture was taken when the colt was 3 days old. He is doing well at the present writing, and gives promise of developing into a valuable animal. He has a tail like a mule, and his feet are very small, long and narrow, again a mule-like trait. The owner states that "his actions are more like a mule than a horse. I have bred this mule again this spring and she only took the horse once. I think she will have another colt; if so I intend to start a breed of that kind."
[. . .] Frequently horses of mixed breeding are seen which exhibit asinine traits of character, both externally and in disposition. If a female of this nature became pregnant, she might well be mistaken for a fertile mule. Such a case is doubtless the well-known instance in the Acclimatization Gardens in Paris. A female—supposedly a mule—produced foals when mated with both the horse and the ass. She was sold to the Gardens by some Algerian natives who alleged her to be a mule. It developed later that it was extremely doubtful whether the animal was a mule. The particulars of her parentage, etc., are utterly unknown, except as narrated by the Algerian horse traders and there were, as shown in a photograph reproduced by Tegetmeier and Sutherland, but vague suggestions of mule-like character about her. Her foals by an ass appeared to be ordinary mules and were sterile; her progeny by the stallion were horses which proved fertile.
[. . .] To believers in telegony these cases offer little difficulty. Tegetmeier quotes Capt. Hayes, "a practical authority," as saying that "those animals which have been mistaken by superficial observers as fertile mules are really in most cases offspring of mares that have previously been bred to donkeys, and have given to their foals characteristics of their former lovers." Tegetmeier then proceeds to say in regard to the above female at the Acclimatization Gardens that "it is not a case of a fertile mule breeding, but that the animal is really an ordinary mare whose female parent was influenced by a first alliance with an ass." Even though we do not now accept telegony as a fact, it is clear that here is a possible source of confusion in this debated field of fertility among mules, since belief in it by breeders of the past would tend to influence their accounts.
EDITORIAL OF THE DAY – MOLLIE AND BECK
The Eagle, 16th June, 1938.
From Columbus, Ind., come reports which should intrigue biologists, stock breeders and everyone else who is interested in natural phenomena. It seems that a bay mule named Mollie has had a colt, which is alive and, presumably, kicking. In case you are ignorant of the facts of life, with regard to mules, here is a bit of mule lore which will show you why Mollie’s foal is something unusual. The mule is a hybrid, a cross between the horse and the ass. Like many other hybrids, the produce of such a crossmating is generally sterile. Mules commonly are produced by mating draft mares with a jackass —and, incidentally, George Washington was the first American mule breeder, having obtained a fine jack as gift from the King of Spain. (Mules also may be obtained by crossing a stallion with a female ass or jenny – but this seldom is done, as the resulting mule known as a hinny, is always too small and delicate for heavy work).
In the case of the aforementioned Mollie, some of the dispatches claimed that her offspring is unique, i.e. that Mollie is the first fertile mule on record. This is incorrect; moreover, it is an injustice to the Evening Sun’s favorite mule, to-wit, Old Beck, who is owned by the Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College. Give Mollie her due, but don’t overlook Old Heck. You can find her history, along with her Photograph and that of her two children, in the 1936 Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture.
What makes Reck doubly interesting is this: Not only is she fertile but she can produce either a mule or a horse, according to whether she is mated with a jack or with a stallion. She has produced Kit, a normal mule, and Pat, an apparently normal saddle horse who, in his turn, has fathered normal appearing horse colts. Where all this is leading to, we don’t know, but it may change the old joke about mules having “no pride of ancestry or hope of posterity.”—Baltimore Evening Sun.
Excerpt from: CHROMOSOME STUDY OF AN ALLEGED FERTILE MARE MULE
Kurt Benirschke, Richard J. Low, Margaret M. Sullivan & Ross M. Carter
Journal of Heredity
In a rarely quoted review on hybrids, Ackermann was of the opinion that the numerous cases of fertile mules and hinnies on record testify to their reproductive ability. He referred to many older sources and even cited an instance of a fertile mule whose foal was fathered by a male mule. As in other reports quoted below, Ackermann found several instances in which mare mules were alleged to have had repeated pregnancies. Iwanoff reviewed the older literature and found no cases including those attributed to Darwin that were substantiated. In a careful review, Lloyd-Jones, in 1916, came to the conclusion that occasional mare mule fertility was possible because sporadic cases continued to be reported. He described two such cases in which a striking feature was their repeated pregnancies. If mare mule fertility occurs, then it would seem to be a most extraordinary coincidence that some mares have born several foals, unless one assumes that either a peculiar rand as yet hypothetical mechanism accounts for maturation of ova in only these few special animals, or that the diagnosis of "hybrid" was in error. Several observers have commented on the difficulty of correctly diagnosing equine hybrids as such. Lloyd-Jones,aside from reviewing all previous cases and arguments on this point, refers to Ayerault's assertion of the definite sterility of mules based on his results of extensive mule breeding in Poitou.Groth described the progeny of "Old Beck", a fertile mare mule. Despite the horse-like features shown in the photographs, there seems little question of her origin or appearance. Moreover, Landsteiner is quoted as having found her blood to be immunologically like that of mules. Craft accepted this case as proof of occasional mule fertility and quoted 11 other cases. In some of these, the true hybrid nature of the mother was doubtful; in others, adoption of a foal by a mule was likely. A brief report in 1939 by Smith lacks supporting evidence on the nature of the white mare, although the photograph shown supports the view he presented. This animal also had a previous foal and was bred again at the time of the report. We have previously challenged the identification in the case reported by Anderson. It is noteworthy that Anderson here refers to the subsequent breeding accomplishments of "Old Beck". When bred with a jack, a consistently sterile mare mule resulted; however, the progeny from matings with a stallion repeatedly yielded a fertile stallion whose numerous offspring show none of the qualities ascribed to donkeys. Rather than assuming the hypothetical exclusion mechanism of donkey chromosomes, postulated by Anderson [Note: and correct!], it would appear more likely that "Old Beck", apparently the best substantiated case of a fertile mare mule, was a horse, her "mule-like characters" and Landsteiner's one observation notwithstanding. The fact that an abnormal fetus resulted when bred once with a jack does not necessarily argue in favor of her being a mule since it is known that the incidence of malformations increases among hybrids. The most recent report we have been able to find is perhaps the most interesting. Antonius referred to several cases of "unquestionably fertile" mules, including the repeatedly foaled mare described by Henseler, and described the results of the fertile mating between full siblings whose father was a stallion and mother was a mule. These siblings brayed like donkeys (the only characteristic testifying to their ancestry). Their foal neighed like a horse, having lost all donkey traits .It is clearly impossible to evaluate these reports objectively and it is not within our competence to deny the accuracy of the diagnosis of "mule" in the cases cited from the published evidence. The purpose of reporting the present case is primarily to call attention to an additional tool in assessing hybrids which should permit us to decide in the future whether fertile mules are possible and if so, by what mechanism.
ANDERSON, W. S. Fertile mare mules. Jour. Hered. 30:549. 1939.
GROTH, A. H. A fertile mare mule. Jour. Hered. 19:413. 1928.
LLOYD-JONES, O. Mules that breed. Jour. Hered. 1-A94. 19
22. SMITH, H. H. Fertile mule from Arizona. Jour. Hered. 30:548. 1939
The Dothan Eagle, 5th August 1940.
From the Baltimore Evening Sun: You may recall the history related in these columns of a female mule named Beck. In case you missed it, we’ll say that old Beck, who was owned by the Texas Agricultural College and who died some time ago, was considerably more famous than any living Congress-man we can name and has a longer biography than most dead Vice- Presidents, all because she produced two foals. Mules are hybrids, being a cross between the horse and the ass tribes, and they are sterile. Records of fertility in mules are so few that Beck's case may be regarded as 1 in 1,000,000. Recently, however, we encountered in the Journal of Heredity a report of two other fertile mules, and we propose to tell you about them.
One of these rare creatures was discovered by Utah State Agricultural College late last year. She was purchased from a Navajo Indian in Oraibi, Ariz. Bred to a jack, she produced a normal mule foal. We do not know her name; all we know is that she is white and weighs about 700 pounds. She has since been bred to a stallion, and we predict (on the basis of what we have just picked up from the Journal of Heredity) that her next foal will be a perfect horse. If we’re wrong, we’ll admit it when the time comes. The other fertile phenomenon is a brown mule named Mollie, owned by W. H. Mobley & Son, of Columbus. Ind. Mollie was bred to a Percheron stallion and produced a handsome Percheron colt.
On the basis of these two cases, and that of old Beck, a scientist writing in the Journal of Heredity has reached this extremely interesting conclusion, to wit: that the reproductive machinery of fertile mules is, from a practical biological standpoint, identical with that of a female horse; or, genetically expressed they have the haploid number of horse chromosomes. And that is why, when old Beck was bred to a jackass she produced a mule foal, and when bred to a stallion she produced a horse foal.
It has long been the hope of mule raisers that eventually a race of fertile, race-perpetuating mules might be bred. (Incidentally, George Washington was the first American mule breeder.) The reason for wanting fertile mules is a good one. In order to produce mules breeders must also raise asses. Asses are rather delicate, popular notions to the contrary, and require more care than either horses or mules. If a fertile line of mules could be created, mule breeders wouldn’t have to bother with asses any more. Unfortunately, if the latest hypothesis is correct, their hopes are forever doomed to failure, because nature when it occasionally slips up and produces a fertile female mule, corrects the error by causing all that creature’s progeny either to revert to the horse family or else to be ordinary sterile mules, incapable of perpetuating their line.
So there it is. Live-stock breeders will follow these facts easily enough. For the layman they may seem a bit confusing. Not the least confusing, we submit, is the fact that, hereditarily, the two horse colts cited here have no maternal grandfathers. That side of their ancestry is just a blank.
FERTILE MULE DEFIES PATTERN OF NATURE; DELIVERS DEAD FOAL
The Opp News, 28th May 1953.
Ashford, Ala. - A brown mare mule on a farm near here appar-ently has broken the law of Mother Nature and dropped a foal — although prematurely. The mule is owned by Horace Deese, Ashford, Rt. 2, but is being kept on the farm of Coy Hop-kins, a neighbor. Deese, Hopkins and scores of Ashford residents vouch for the fact that it did happen. Cleveland A. Lewis, Ashford, Rt. 1 helped the unsuspecting Hopkins attend to the animal, its plowing duties suddenly interrupted. The premature colt apparently was by a jackass, also owned by Deese. Mating was prior to February because Hopkins said he has had the mule on his farm since then.
Few fertile mules ever are reported and fewer are believed able to foal by a jackass — by a saddle stallion, maybe. A veterinarian, asked to comment, said chances are that it won’t happen again in “500,000 or 750,000 times.” The mule, a hybrid between the horse and the ass, generally is considered sterile. When such cases do arise, veterinary authorities agree that the animal has a genetic make-up functioning like that of a mare instead x>f a mule. The possibility of securing a fertile hybrid strain of true breeding mules is considered theoretically impossible.
Hopkins declared, “I’ve heard something about it. I’ve never seen anything like it.” Nevertheless, his borrowed mule about five years old, went back to plowing on Thursday — just a day after her dead colt arrived.
MULES MAY BE MORE FERTILE THAN BELIEVED
The Delta Democrat Times, Greenville, Mississippi, 25th April 1957.
New York. In the matter of mule sterility it may be partly the fault of mule owners rather than entirely the fault of mule nature. Mule owners are so firmly convinced it is impossible for mules to become parents, mules rarely have the opportunity to do so. It is not impossible, asserted J.T. Baldwin Jr., genetic scientist at the College of William and Mary, in calling for greater mule opportunity. He produced an authenticated case of a mule becoming a mother. Not once, but twice. Her name was Jenny and she lived more than 100 years ago on the plantation of John Thompson Kilby in Nansemond County, Va.
Kilby was astonished by this affront to “the general principle of nature,” and wrote a letter about it to the editor of the Farmers’ Register. He reported that Jenny had given birth on April 23, 1834, in the presence of witnesses. Furthermore, she was unquestionably a mule, having been foaled on his plantation. Knowing such a thing was “impossible,” he had been entirely unsuspecting, even when he noticed “her belly was enlarged,” and so had worked her hard for a year.
“Now you will ask what is the father of it?” Kilby wrote the editor. “I cannot say – but believe a colt of mine, now three years old. He ran out on Sundays with the mules. So it is, the mule has a colt and it is exactly like the young stallion.
In 1835 Kilby wrote the editor that Jenny had done it again, by becoming the mother of “a fine female colt [i.e. a filly], jet black, save a star in its forehead and one foot white. It partakes, as did the other, more of the horse than the mule, and is a much finer colt.”
Baldwin made a detailed account, along with his study of “the literature,” to the American Genetic Assn. He found there were a few other authenticated cases of mules becoming mother, although not one of a mule becoming a father. He found that in most of the other cases, the mules were mothers more than once, but this he found readily explicable. Having demonstrated the ability, the mule would be given more opportunity by her owner. “Chances are that many potentially fertile mules never have the opportunity to be served at the right instance,” Baldwin said.
The union of the chromosomes of the horse and the ass in the mules reproductive chemistry results in irregular pairings of mule chromosomes, and so sterility. But Baldwin said, “for some individuals chromosome pairing would be more nearly complete and fertility would be higher.”
San Antonio Express, 6th August, 1967
The Monday Evening News of July 17 had an article about a rare long-eared colt as a result of a male mule crossmating. This colt is neither a horse, mule, jackass or hinny. What will the geneticist call this three-quarter horse? Is this the only report of such successful mating involving a fertile male mule? Many horse owners in the San Antonio area would find this answer very interesting.
Express-News Farm and Ranch Editor Arthur Moczygemba says that occasional reports have come in whereby the usually sterile mule will be fertile, and can breed. Although very rare for mules to have offspring, it is more rare for the male mule to be able to sire offspring than for the female mule to bear offspring. There is no definite name for this three-quarter horse, one-quarter donkey, since it is so rare, and technically a mutation.
FERTILE MULE AND OFFSPRING KICK UP FUROR
York Daily Record, 2nd August 1984.
Champion, Neb. (AP) - A mule named Krause has kicked up a lot of attention here by giving birth to a colt named Blue Moon, apparently the first documented case of mule fertility. The blessed event was even announced from the pulpit. After the July 6 birth, Bill and Oneta Silvester held an open house at their farm about seven miles southwest of Champion to show off Blue Moon and her mother, Krause. It’s been an open house ever since.
“We’ve had more than 100 people out here,” Mrs. Silvester said Wednesday. “I’ve stopped keeping track.”
Over gallons of coffee, lemonade and ice tea, the Silvesters are telling and retelling the story of the surprise birth. Besides drawing the curious from nearby farming towns in the southwest corner of Nebraska, Krause has attracted the attention of scientists, who say she would be the first mule ever to produce an egg and give birth if the case can be verified. Mules, a cross between a male donkey and a female horse, are usually sterile because they are a hybrid of two species.
Miracle or not, Blue Moon’s birth was announced from the pulpit during services at the United Methodist Church in nearby Imperial. A veterinarian took blood samples from Krause, Blue Moon and Chester, the donkey who the Silvesters say sired Blue Moon. The tests were shipped to the Center for the Reproduction of Endangered Species at the San Diego Zoo, where geneticist Dr. Oliver Ryder analyzed the chro-mosomes in each of the animals. Preliminary tests indicate that both Krause and Blue Moon are mules, and Ryder said he was confident the results were valid.
Mrs. Silvester said her family had a few anxious moments waiting for the results. “We were afraid maybe Krause really wasn’t a mule but a horse,” Mrs. Silvester said. “The tests came back proving Krause had 63 chromosomes, the number of a mule, and Blue Moon also has 63 chromosomes.” Horses have 64 chromosomes and donkeys 62.
Dr. Merlin Bradley, a professor at the University of Missouri Animal Science Department and a lifelong mule enthusiast, said if it can be proved that Krause gave birth, it would be a genetic first. “It’ll be the very first authenticated case of a mule giving birth to a foal,” he said. “I wouldn’t say anything is impossible in biology.”
Krause’s fame is cutting into Silvester’s work around his farm, where he grows corn, wheat and pinto beans. “There probably will be doctors and scientists from universities who want information about Krause,” Silvester said. “But for a while, (Krause and Blue Moon) are going to stay here.”
Mrs. Silvester said she wasn’t certain what will happen next to the animals. There’s talk of printing T-shirts that say “Champion: Home of Blue Moon.”
Ryder has asked for skin samples from the animals for further tests, Mrs. Silvester said. “Now they’ve proven Krause is a mule,” Mrs. Silvester said. “What else can they prove? Maybe the Stork brought Blue Moon.”
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