« ElőzőTovább »
the same amount of heat being evolved in the animal system by its combustion. This is the reason why Lord Ducie's sheep exposed to a temperature of 44 degrees ate more than those kept at a temperature of 49 degrees, and lost weight. Had the temperature ranged from 32 degrees to zero, and twenty degrees below, what would have been the result? The sheep and the fleece would have been seriously affected. The elements of that yolk which is intended to render the fibre soft and pliant, would have been burnt to produce heat, and this would leave the wool dry and harsh. This is technically called the combustion of the carbon and hydrogen, by combining with the oxygen of the atmosphere. When the supply of food or fuel-for in this case they become synonyms is not sufficient, or when the food does not contain the requisite elements for combustion, then nature comes to the aid of the poor suffering animal, and increases the coat which it at first designed should prevent the rapid removal of heat, (it being a slow conductor) not by elongating the staple, but by bringing in around the roots of the staple short, fine fibers, which curling around the coarser hairs, felt to such a degree in some cases that when the fleece is removed it can scarcely be torn asunder, and is of but little value to the manufacturer. It will not do for worsteds and for woolens; it is scarcely as good as shoddy, that article being made chiefly from fine cloth, and not felted near so much as some of this kind of wool is upon the sheep's back.
Yet if the fleece does not reach so extreme a case as the one described, the staple will be rendered short and weak. The short fibres will grow at the bottom of the staple, checking its growth and producing what is termed moss-bottomed, and if required for worsteds greatly increasing the quantity of noils, thus seriously impairing its quality; or if used for woolens it will increase the quantity of waste. A young sheep's wool produced under such treatment is worse than old sheep's wool on good feed, and kept in a mod. erate temperature. And after such Winter treatment the Spring finds the sheep so reduced in condition that Spring, Summer and Autumn fail to flesh up, and a very few such Winters are sufficient to fit it a candidate for its mother earth.
Were our domestic animals in a state of nature, and had they been roaming at large over our hills and across our valleys, we should find them at certain seasons of the year preparing to migrate to more genial climes, where snows do not cover the surface of the earth for any length of time. And were we in a state of half civilization, we should then have our herds and flocks in a state of semi-domestication, subject to some extent to the controlling influence of man, and in a measure dependent upon his care, yet retaining sufficient of their wild nature to enable them along with their nomadic owners to wander from place to place in search of green
pastures and genial elime; on the approach of winter turning their faces south and moving with the receding sun, retiring from the regions of snow and keeping pace with the unfrozen herbage. And when the sun again ascended the heavens, and with his scorching rays wither the once luxuriant pasture, the shepherd would turn bis flock to the north, there to find the sweet fresh grass and cooler breeze.
But a higher state of the civilization of man and the more complete domestication of the animal, has fixed the abode of both. The large and spacious barn, stored with well won bay, the well filled granery, and well stored corn house, with capacious stables and sheds, affording food, warmth and shelter during the inclement season, obviate the necessity of wander. ing in quest of food or milder climate. Yet these do not change the entire nature of either man or animal. The sheep still loves variety of food, and though the dried hay retains many of the characteristics of the grass, its juices are absent, and though corn and grain contain far more nutrition than either grass or hay, yet they are neither when fed alone or fed together, the kind of food best adapted to the wants of the sheep. That roots are of great importance in the winter treatment of sheep, the ex. periments of Mr. Lawes, to which we again refer, abundantly prove.
In one pen Mr. Lawes kept five sheep thirty-two weeks, as in the ex. periment alluded to on a preceding page. He fed to each sheep 64 pounds of beans and 173 pounds of hay per week, and they increased one pound per head per week; seven and a half ounces more than when fed on meadow hay. In another pen of five sheep kept for the same length of time, each sheep eat seven pounds of barley and eighteen pounds of hay per week, and increased one pound and one-half ounce per head per week. In another pen each sheep eat three pounds ten and one-half ounces of beans, one pound six and one-half ounces of linseed oil, and eighteen and one-half pounds of hay per week, and increased one pound one and one-fourth ounce. This last experiment, be it observed, was performed on the most nutritious kind of food, beans standing at the head, and linseed oil containing all the elements of fat. Yet these produced a comparatively small increase in weight when compared with other food fed to sheep in other experiments. For the same gentleman found that aheep fed on oil cake and turnips increased on an average one pound and fourteen ounces per week; others fed on oats and turnips gained on an average two pounds and one-half ounce per week; while others fed on barley meal and mangel-wurzel, increased the same amount. Others fed on oil cake, clover hay and turnips increased three pounds two and one fourth ounces per head per week; and others fed on oats straw and turnips gained one pound five and three fourths ounces per head per week, gain. ing thirteen and one-fourth ounces more than those fed on meadow bay, and four and one-half ounces more than those fed on beans, linseed oil and hay. We attempt no explanation how, with the aid of turnips, oat straw should give a greater increase of weight than beans, oil and hay. We can only state that we have read of so many instances of sheep fed on nothing but turnips, and rapidly increasing in weight, that we feel confident there is no overstating the case in this matter. And in quoting this experiment we have our mind on the fact that there exists in the minds of many intelligent farmers great prejudice against roots, because it is said that they contain such a large amount of water, and such a small quantity of nutrition. But one thing should be borne in mind that there is more required in the ani. mal economy than the bare elements of nutrition; and if we reject roots because of water, we ought also to reject grass, because it is open to the same objection. And when the question is introduced for discussion at our farmers' clubs, it never should be argued on the bare merits of nutri. tion; but which draws hardest upon the soil should be a consideration, and the healthy influence they have upon the animal should also be another. Neither should it be argued that either should be abandoned, to the exclusive culture of one or the other; but by alternating roots and oorn, one would prepare the soil for the other. Roots requiring few of the elements required for the production of corn, during the season they were growing the disintegration and decomposition of the soil would be in process fitting it to support a crop of corn; in some cases requiring manure, yet much less where there is a rotation of crops than when one crop is raised upon the same soil for a succession of years. Corn would during its year of growth prepare the soil for a crop of roots, while as already shown, the feeding of both to the sheep would be attended with the happiest results. In view of the fact that sheep love variety, we would give them a variety of food. Some days clover hay, other days timothy hay, sometimes a little straw, and sometimes we would try to induce them to eat a little meadow hay; and along with these we would feed a little corn, a little barley, or a little oats. We would also feed a variety of roots, tur. nips, carrots, mangel-wurzel, and if it was not for the potato disease, we would sometimes try a few tubers. Sometimes we would try pumpkins, and sometimes a few windfall apples we should convert into mutton, lambs and wool, instead of cider, not forgetting a good supply of water and plenty of salt. By such a course of diet we believe we should have healthier sheep, more and better mutton, larger lambs, and superior wool, at a less cost than could be produced by confining the animal to a less varied diet.
But there is another essential element to the well being of the sheep, and which plays a very important part in the animal as well as the vegetable kingdom. We refer to light. It is well known that the agency of light accelerates chemical changes and combinations. That without it carbon cannot be fixed in the plant, and while the vegetable kingdom is a system of chemical combination, the animal is one of assimilation and decomposition, which can only be performed with due regularity while under the influence of plenty of light, in proof of which we again quote from Lord Ducie. Five sheep kept in the dark, quiet and covered, nine days, ate thirty-five pounds per day and increased in weight eight pounds.
Another important point is exercise. It must be borne in mind that the heaviest and most domesticated of our sheep are ramblers when compared with cows or horses. And stables and yards constructed for their winter accommodation should be sufficiently large to allow them the free use of their limbs. And though those which come up in the fall almost ready for the butcher, may be quickly and cheaply fatted by putting them in stalls and not allowing exercise. Yet if confined in this manner for any length of time they become excessively fat, then feverish and their flesh diseased. Lord Ducie's experiment shows that five sheep not allowed any exercise for nine days consumed, first, sixty-four pounds of food per day, then fifty-eight, and increased in weight thirty pounds. Due regard should always be had to a due supply of pure air, with ventilation sufficient to remove all impurities. All proper changes in the animal system are produced by the oxygen of the atmosphere, which is limited in the purest atmosphere to about 21 per cent., and when reduced to 12 per cent. life cannot be sustained, while any serious reduction from the pare per centage loads the atmosphere with the elements of disease and death, so that all persons who feed on animal food are interested in the proper ventilation of the stables, whether that food is milk, butter, cheese, beef, or mutton. As healthy stock is most profitable to the farmer he is certainly interested in the subject of ventilation.
Mention has been made in a deprecatory manner of the practice of dealers and raisers of the fancy stock of Merinos crowding their sheep into badly ventilated stables, for the purpose of increasing the weight of the fleece. And we also denounce the practice of raisers and dealers of large mutton fancy stock, stall feeding their sheep in the fall for the purpose of inducing great weight Sheep that have been so treated suddenly fall off when subjected to ordinary stock fare with plenty of exercise ; and rams particularly, when turned among a flock of ewes after such treatment lose rapidly, and rarely regain the weight they lose, and as a general thing it is the rams that are thus treated, in order that when brought to the scale great weight will attract the buyer. But let the buyer learn to judge his animal more from frame and firmness of muscle when he requires stock for breeding purposes, than from fat, leaving that part to the butcher. No animals suffer more from loss of condition than sheep; and when once fat they should always be slaughtered, and never again used for breeding purposes, neither male or female. We have shown the bad effects of cold upon the fleece, and we would now call attention to too warm quar. ters, for be it remembered that the sheep will bear a lower temperature than either the cow or the horse. Its fleece in winter is getting heavy, and as we have before observed its coat is a slow conductor of heat, and if the temperature is too high, nature will come to its assistance, and though it will not shorten the staple, it will thin it, producing a thin built bottom, the shorter fibres will be at the top rather than at the bottom, the staple will be weak, and, as a consequence, the fleece light. It has been noticed that after a remarkable open winter we hear more said about light fleeces than after a severly cold one; though we complain of much cotted wool after the latter kind of winters. Let the temperature of the inside of the stable be regulated in a measure by the temperature outside, in severe weather closing all but enough for ventilation, in mild weather throwing all open, and understand that nature furnishes the wool to clothe the sheep, and not man; and if he wishes to avail himselt of his coat to clothe himself let him study nature, and then assist and not thwart her designs, and he will gain all he desires. It will be found that to winter sheep well, the following points will be essentially requisite, namely: A variety of food, plenty of pure air, plenty of light, moderate temperature, and moderate exercise.
The Hon. 0. C. Felton, a gentleman who has long been engaged in sheep husbandry, writes, under date of September 26th:
"I am not aware that the diseases of sheep are very numerous. The foot-rot, the scab and grub in the head prevail in some localities, but not to any great extent in this vicinity. I have suffered considerable loss in my flock from a disease which I cannot learn has prevailed to any extent
in many other places, and which I can neither name nor account for. I · will try to describe it.
"The first symptoms of the disease appear in the loss of strength, pendant ears, partially closed eyes, and colorless skin upon the lips and ears. The animal will be seen to linger behind when the flock is in motion, and frequently to stumble and fall. In later stages of the disease the whole of the skin becomes pallid, the animal weeps at the nose and eyes, in some cases the lips swell to twice or thrice their natural thickness, and tumors sometimes gather about the throat and jaws, which on being opened produce a substance resembling the white of an egg, Tho animal lingers in