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rangement, and are protected from the alternations of wet and cold, generally so fatal to the health and lives of these animals.
In determining the relative value and profit of fine and coarse, or large and small sheep, regard must necessarily be had to the fact, whether the primary object of the cultivator is wool.growing or mutton. A few general suggestions will convey my views on this subject, and incidentally embody replies to several other points embraced in the inquiries. An opinion, formed many years since-that pure merinos were better adapted to the severe and fluctuating climate of our northern latitudes, and in general more profitable, than Saxon sheep—has been corroborated and confirmed by all subsequent observation. The former are more hardy in constitution, larger, and more vigorous. They excel in beauty, yield better mutton, and heavier fleece, which, in fineness and texture, often closely approximates to the latter. There has occurred so constant an intermixture of the breeds, that it is exceedingly rare to find a flock of pure and exclusive merino extraction. Many breeders have designed, and with occasional success, to preserve this purity. I am able to indicate numerous flocks of highly pure merino blood, and all are pre-eminently remunerative. These flocks are uniformly distinguished for compact fleeces, with long fibres of wool, white, and pure from gum. Their
, clip will average, in different flocks, from four to six cents per head. I cannot believe that such flocks can be essentially improved by an infusion of a foreign stock, whose great peculiarity seems to be a gummy, matted fleece. These imported animals may be favorably combined with flocks of short, loose, and open wool. Immense progress has been at. tained by judicious breeding in the last few years in the quality and value of our wool, and equally in the size and beauty of our animals. These improvements may be extended to almost an indefinite degree of perfection by the exercise of judicious skill and intelligence. Small and fine woolled sheep yield more wool in proportion-and of more value to their size than the large and coarse sheep. They consume less food, but require more care and expense in their attendance and keeping. The mutton of the large, coarse sheep is much preferred, and bears a higher price in market; and as they shculd range on cheap pasturage in fattening, the difference in the expense from their increased consumption is an unimportant consideration. The conclusions 1 adopt from these views are, that merinos are the most appropriate breed in the northern section of the Union, where designed for wool-growing, and that large and coarse sheep are the most profitable where the primary object of the breeder is mutton.
The original coarse-woolled sheep, which prevailed in the country previous to the importation of merinos, have become extinct; but several varieties of long and middle-woolled sheep, and infinitely superior animals, have been, since that period, introduced. These sheep have all been propagated in Europe on account of the high and peculiar excel. lence of the mutton they afford. They are all, for this purpose, most valuable and desirable acquisitiɔns. Among these varieties I assign the preference to the “South Downs." I think they unite the greatest combination of excellent qualities. They are beautiful in form and appearance, vigorous in constitution, sufficiently large, apt to fatten, affording mutton of rare and exquisite flavor, and yielding a heavy and compact fleece of wool, equal in fineness and value to half-blood merino. They are peculiarly docile and domestic in their habits. The grades of this breed are most valuable animals. The cross of a South Down ewe with a merino buck unites as many desirable qualities as can be reached for the combined object of wool and mutton. They unite size and beauty with a heavy fleece and a fair quality of wool. The South Down and their grades may be raised with great success in every section of the country accessible to markets and adapted to sheep husbandry.
ON SHEEP BREEDING.
BY P. A. BROWNE, LL. D.
There are, doubtless, some persons who imagine that they have no interest in the breeding of sheep and raising of wool; if there are any such among our readers, we have a few preliminary remarks to make to them. Every one who eats mutton or wears cloth coats and pantaloons, or flannel or worsted under-clothing, or who in winter sleeps under a blanket, is directly interested in our subject. Hunger and nakedness, to a considerable degree, would be the results of totally neglecting to grow wool; and these, it must be acknowledged, are formidable opponents in any community. But we are all willing to admit that we take an indirect interest in what concerns any great class of the society to which we belong; and in the breeding of sheep and raising of wool, the agricul. turist has a deep and abiding interest. The farmers and planters form a large proportion of the voters, the tax-payers, the producers and consumers of all agricultural, and the consumers of all manufactured products. It is calculated that there are in the United States four millions of agriculturists; and how can anything which intimately concerns so large a portion of our relatives, friends, acquaintances, and fellow citizens be unimportant to one of us? Agriculture is the elder sister of commerce and manufactures; which naturally lean upon her for support and main. tenance; hence, every commercial and manufacturing community is bound to support the farmer and planter, as they are bound reciprocally to aid and assist the merchant and the mechanic. How many thousands are engaged in the transportation, stapling, and manufacture of wool, and in the transportation and sale of woollen fabrics? And their interests ought not to be neglected. We have not implicit faith in newspaper published statistics. In one which recently appeared, it is stated that the pounds of wool used in the United States are 70,762,829, and that the value of the raw material is $25,755,988; which would be allowing a fraction more than thirty-six cents for the value of each pound of wool. Now, if from the 70,762,829 pounds used in the United States, we deduct 18,000,000 of the imported, annually, it will leave 52,762,829 for the quantity raised in the United States; which, allowing an average of three pounds per sheep, would give 17,594,276 sheep in the United States; whereas there are many persons, who are deemed competent judges, who estimate them as high as thirty five or forty millions.
But whether the amount of wool used in the United States be over or ander-rated, it has to be transported, stapled, and manufactured, and the fabrics transported and sold; and if you will add to the sum of agricul.
turists and farmers the number of these transporters, staplers, manufacturers of wool, and transporters and venders of woollen fabrics, the amount of persons interested in one subject will be greatly increased. Again, the United States manufacture wool; but, under the present imperfect system of sheep-breeding and wool-growing, we do not raise wool enough for the manufacturers, but, on the contrary, import annually about eighteen millions of pounds. Instead of doing this, we ought, after supplying our own manufactories, to export more than double that amount, raised by our own people, upon our own lands. And this we can do, and will, if those the most interested in this branch of industry, and their representatives, will only do their duty. American sheepbreeders and wool-producers possess eminent advantages over any other people engaged in the same business, for they have the best lands for the purpose at a very low price; a sheep may be maintained in some of our western and southwestern States at an annual expense of twenty five cents, and will yield from two to four pounds of wool, worth, if of the proper kind, from forty to fifty cents a pound, not to mention the profit from the increase of lambs. The sheep-breeders of some other countries have yet to experiment upon the kind of sheep best calculated for their climate and soil; here that experiment has been made, but the result has not been fairly put before the public. In some places they can raise only one species of sheep; here we can produce two, being all that is necessary for the growing of fleeces. We have more than one thousand millions of acres of land capable of producing sheep, and there could not be a more useful measure devised than to encourage the hundreds and thousands of emigrants who are daily seeking an asylum upon our shores to settle on some of them, and turn their attention to this important branch of industry.*
It is thought by many agriculturists that by unskilful farming the fertility of our soil is gradually diminishing; and there appears to be great good sense in this opinion. If by suddenly taking everything away and returning nothing to the soil again, we would deprive it of those ingredients in the propagation of grain that are absolutely necessary for its growth, the argument will hold good where this is done gradually, except that a longer time is consumed in the destruction: the one is a paralysis, the other a consumption. But by the raising of sheep we return to the soil a portion of the precious ingredients of organization; for it is a well-known and acknowledged fact that sheep improve the land upon which they are pastured and sed. The raising and breeding of sheep has, in point of practical profit, another advantage over the raising of grain; it costs three times more to produce a bushel of corn upon poor land than it does upon rich; but this is not the case with sheep, for they can be maintained upon the poor land quite as well as upon a rich soil. Some of the finest wool in our collection was produced upon worn-out tobacco land of Virginia! Everything must be taken in connexion with the modern improvements of our country, or our calculations will be behind the age and useless. This is the age of railroads! The construction of these improved means of conveyance encourages
* We are said to possess a territory of 3,221,595 square miles-a territory 95 times as great as the Island of Great Britain, more than 16 times as large as France, more than 12 times as large as all Germany; yet from these countries we import millions of pounds of wool each year!
the transportation to a distance from the place of growth of agricultural
а productions, owing to which the refuse is forever lost to the soil upon which they grow; and this being repeated from year to year, the fertility is constantly reduced, until at length the farm can no longer produce a crop. Now, we can, for the time being, no niore directly arrest the progress of this draining system than we can, with our hands only, stop the locomotive in its on ward career; but by introducing upon each farm a flock of sheep, whose wool only is carried to a distance, we can in a great measure retard, if not entirely prevent, this deleterious consummation. So that we find that sheep with railroads may succeed; while grain with railroads will be a failure in agricultural economy.
Believing the above to be fundamental truths, and desirous as much as in an humble individual lies to promote the good of our common country, we have collected from nearly all parts of the world where sheep are raised, specimens of their fleece. These we have subjected to the most rigid scientific examinations with the microscope, michrometer, and trichrometer, with the double view of ascertaining what has been done abroad and what can be done in the United Slates as regards the production of valuable fleece. The result of these investigations, although highly creditable to a number of intelligent and careful sheep-breeders in various parts of the Union, discloses the lamentable fact that a majority of agriculturists, for want of proper information, are pursuing a plan of propagation that can never furnish to them and to their country a permanent, self supplying race of sheep, possessing, equally, the properties of both their progenitors. It is confidently believed that congress can do much to render the system of sheep-breeding more perfect, and the subject calls aloud for their attention; for if history is to be depended upon, no country has ever existed, where due regard was paid to the propagation of fleece, that has not become wealthy. In the mean time we will offer a few observations upon this important subject.
Of breeding and raising domestic animals.-Breeding and raising domestic animals includes not only the multiplication of individuals, but the preservation and improvement of their species, so as to insure some desirable end, which should always be kept fully in view.
The design in raising sheep should be to produce, with the least trouble and expense, the greatest quantity of the most valuable quality of fleece; · and when this is done, and then only, is the system of sheep breeding perfect.
We are aware that there are some who consider that the main object in raising sheep is to produce fine flesh for food; and that others entertain the opinion that wool and carcass are of equal importance, and equally deserving of care and attention. But we maintain that the matter which ought to absorb our undivided attention is the fleece, and that the production of good mutton will be a necessary consequence.
The most valuable properties of fleece, as regards its usefulness in manufactures and the arts, are its fineness, its ductility, and its flexibility and elasticity_indicating its softness, its strength, and either its capacity to felt and full in an eminent degree, or its being free from shrinking.
Therefore the greatest perfection in sheep-breeding and raising consists in being able to produce an animal whose wool is fine, soft, and strong, and will felt and full perfectly; or one whose fleece is fine, soft, and strong, and will not shrink. And we propose to show that either of these objects can be effected in the United States with one stock, and that both may be effected with two stocks, but that both cannot be done effectually and permanently with one.
Upon examining the above-mentioned properties of fleece, it is apparent that, inasmuch as these qualities depend upon specific differences of the animals, the same species cannot, by any management or skill of the breeder, be made to produce wool that will felt and full, and fleece that will not shrink ; but that to vary the peculiar specific properties of either within the range of the specific characteristics of each species is more or less under the control of the skilful breeder.
For instance: the diameter of wool taken from animals descended from the same parentage may vary ; so the ductility and elasticity of filament (and consequently the softness of the fleece) may differ, although the race is identical, and the strength of the fibres is doubtless subject to the same law ; but far different is the case with the property of felting, fulling, and shrinking, which depends upon the shape, direction, and inclination of the filament, and these upon its organization, all which in the fleece that will felt, full, and shrink, are different from those that will not-so much so that we have ventured to call the one wool, the other hair ; and so they are in the proper understanding of those terms; for
1st. Hair is in shape cylindrical or oval; but wool is eccentrically elliptical or flattened.
20. The direction of hair is either straight, flowing, or curled ; but wool is crisped and frizzled, and sometimes spirally curled.
3d. Hair issues out of the epidermis at an acute angle ; but wool emerges at a right angle.
4th. The coloring matter of a perfect hair is contained in a central canal; but the most perfect wool has no such canal, the coloring matter being disseminated in the cortex, or the cortex and fibres.
5th. The scales of the cortex of hair are less numerous than those of wool; are less pointed, and smoother; and they embrace the shaft more intimately than those of wool ; causing wool to felt and full, while hair will not shrink. These things surprise on account of their novelty ; but when they are perfectly understood, no one will any longer marvel why we say that there are two species of sheep.” Let us, then, in the first place, examine the subject of
FELTS AND FELTING
The word felt is from the Saxon " felt"-from“ fel," the hide or skin of an animal. The fabric is manufactured from wool of sheep or other animals, the filaments of which are entangled and matted together, so as, without spinning or weaving, to form a compact mass. There is no doubt but that felting was practised at a very early day. It is true that the first impulse of an uncivilized mind would be to cover the body with the skins of animals rudely stitched together. “Unto Adam, also, and
, his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.”
The Hare Indians, ocoupying the valley of the river McKenzie, are clothed in rabbit skins togged together. (Unitod States Exploring Expedition.)