Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

that gluten produces a quart of milk cheaper by three fourths of a cent than linseed, then no one will deny the desirability of a knowledge of this fact, and if shorts or cottonseed can give us a still further reduction, then we as farmers need this information.

Our cows thus far have been made to show four things : Quantity of milk, quality of milk, cost of milk, cost of butter, for this test can be figured from the other data. There is a physiological problem that demands solution. It is this, Where does the grain consumed by a cow lodge in the stomach ? Does it go into the first and thus become remasticated, or does it pass immediately into the true digestion stomach? Our whole system of feeding may need modification in accordance with the establishment of the question. All of these questions and many more await a solution, but time is required, and I ask you, my farmer friends, not to expect too much too soon. Let us have the time in which to perform the work carefully and accurately, and more than this, let us have your suggestions and support.

SHEEP HUSBANDRY.

BY J. L. GERRISH.

From the earliest period, sheep have occupied a place in history. Very soon after Adam left gardening and his sons took up general farming, we find Abel as a keeper of sheep, offering the “ firstlings of his flock and the fat thereofto the Lord. Thirty-seven centuries ago, when Abraham took his son Isaac into the mountain to be offered, a ram was providentially “caught in a thicket by his horns." Although used for sacrifices, it is probable that sheep were also used for their wool as well at an early date. In fact, the ram caught by his horns rather supports the theory of a wool-bearing animal, as those used for their mutton strictly now have no horns. Laban is mentioned as shearing sheep 1739 years before the Christian era, at or before which time wool was probably used. Dr. Randall says that fine-wooled sheep were known before Christ, and it is sure they were found in Spain when conquered by the Romans in the third century. Tradition says the Cotswold was introduced into England from Spain in the twelfth century, and it is certain that they were sent back to Spain from England in the fifteenth century by permission of King Edward the Fourth.

The most marked improvement in mutton sheep was when Robert Bakewell took hold of the Leicesters, in England, about 133 years ago. He mixed six or seven different breeds, and followed a course of breeding peculiar to himself. It is supposed that he bred very closely. Stewart, in his “Shepherd's Manual," remarks: “ By a course of breeding about which he was very

reticent even to his friends, and which he kept secret from other breeders, Mr. Bakewell totally changed the character of these sheep, and built up for himself a reputation as a successful breeder which is second to that of no other in the world. ... After his death Bakewell's system of close breeding was followed by his successors, but with the effect of reducing the value of the breed to the farmer.” Thus it becomes apparent that the material which can be used successfully in the hands of a man of genius, may work out its own destruction by the injudicious or inexperienced person. Five years after Bakewell commenced his course of improvement he could let his rams for four dollars a year, but at the end of about thirty-five years one ram netted him $6,600 in a single season. In the present generation great success has attended Mr. Hammond and other breeders of Merinos in this country, and fabulous prices have been obtained from both sales and rentals. While this temporary improvement has brought a reputation to the leading breeders engaged in it, and their stock has been a lever for raising the standard of large wool focks on the Western plains, it is not the object of this paper to discuss their merits, but to call the attention of New Hampshire farmers to a history of sheep in a general way, and to mark out a course of breeding adapted to our present methods of mixed husbandry, and one that shall fill the demands likely to be made by our markets for meat and special grades of woolen manufacture at home.

In deciding how to breed it is advisable to inform ourselves regarding the kind of lamb that our butchers like to buy and are willing to pay for, and also to consider whether we can best produce it by our present methods or by others which we can profitably adopt. From the present standpoint everything indicates that wool must be made a secondary consideration, and its amount, in proportion to carcass, must vary somewhat in different parts of the State. The locality of our largest amount of summer boarding and travel, in the lake and mountain region, can on account of its abundant feed and favorable climate carry a breed having about three fourths of English blood, Leicester, or Cotswold, incorporated with their native or acclimated flocks. It may be that there is a slope bordering the Connecticut, running towards

the southwestern part of the State that can raise the same kind, finding a near market in the winter feeders of the Connecticut meadow farms, who have in past seasons found it quite profitable to buy lambs of that grade, with a little Shropshire or Southdown blood combined, for stalling. If the ticks can be kept from such sheep they take flesh rapidly in autumn when turned on the rowen or “shack" on those meadow farms.

The central portion of the State, including the Merrimack valley, with the drier plains and rocky ridges on either side, seems better adapted to support a middle breed, carrying a fleece about equal in weight to those Merinos kept in such large numbers in that section during the late war and high prices for wool. This kind of sheep reaches about the same weight on common pasture and fine hay in two thirds the time required for the Merino. We think we may say that such sheep will thrive in flocks as large as any of our farmers wish to keep; but if the contrary should prove to be the case, those farmers having large mountain pastures could introduce a trifle more of the Merino blood, using such rams as are from flocks that were bred through the war period without wrinkles, such focks being preserved still in Merrimack county. The late Mr. Melvin, of Weare, bred such a sheep through a long lifetime without any perceptible admixture of the wrinkly Vermont Merinos.

Several breeders in Merrimack county are making efforts to preserve this type of sheep, as those who continue to breed Merinos here are aiming for a Delaine Merino with mutton qualities. There has been Delaine blood lately introduced to the adjoining town of Warner from both Pennsylvania and Maine. Dea. H. F. Pearson, of Webster, has made a successful cross on the Melvin sheep by the use of a Dickenson Merino ram purchased of H. G. McDowell, Canton, Ohio. This celebrated flock of Delaine Merinos was established in 1831. Mr. McDowell sends an electrotype of a yearling ram of this breed. He claims, on their rich grasses, to raise rams to two hundred pounds' weight, combining mutton qualities with the best grade of Delaine wool.

[graphic][subsumed][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »