« PreviousContinue »
three-pence halfpenny the pound, it makes the profit of fattening on the lean weight of the beasts to be nearly three halfpence the pound, or about eighteenpence the stone of fourteen pounds, which is about equal to ninepence the stone living weight.
In these statements, the great advantages of large sized stock, and rich full feeding or grazing grounds, are strongly shown and enforced, as well as the disadvantages and loss of small-sized animals, and the inferior sorts of feeding lands, pointed out; as it can scarcely be doubted, from the facts that have been brought forward, that in many cases such large beasts, where they possess ready dispositions for fattening, will increase as much in weight as the whole of that of a small beast in the course of but a few months ; but this is a profit or advantage that can only arise or take place on feeding lands of the best or very good qualities; as in raising such large stock in flesh and fat to such great weights, there requires much better and more abundant keep. They are also necessarily kept in many instances and situations for a great length of time before they become ready for being fattened, and consequently do not suit cases where lands are poor or capitals small.
In the small-sized stock of this kind, the case is materially different in most circumstances; they can be raised to their proper weights on inferior keep, and the poorer sorts of feeding land, with less expense of food; they are ready for taking on flesh and fat in half the time of the others; but the increase in weight is less, and the produce or profit smaller ; yet, under good management, two such beasts may be fattened in nearly the same length of time as one of the others, and with less danger of accidents; still, however, the whole of the amount of the produce or profit will only in certain cases and circumstances come up to or surpass that of the large beast in such extraordinary instances, which can seldom or ever occur when the latter is got ready for fattening at the earliest possible perind.
A TREATISE ON SHEEP.
REGARDED with respect to its wants, its disposition, and utility, the sheep is, in a peculiar manner, the. creature of man. Without his fostering care and protection its race would soon be exterminated; but his kindnesses are repaid by an ample contribution to his necessities and comforts. It is to the sheep thạt we are indebted for a considerable portion of our aliment and for the most essential part of our clothing.
This animal is singularly inoffensive, and discovers less animation and sagacity than many other quadrupeds ; but the Compte de Buffon has been guilty of injustice in describing it as destitute of the necessary art of self-preservation, without courage, and even deprived of every instinctive faculty. On extensive mountains, where numerous flocks range at liberty, and, generally speaking, independent of the shepherd's aid, they exhibit a very different character, and a ram or wether has been frequently seen to attack a dog, and come off victorious; when the danger is more pressing, they have recourse to the collective strength
of the whole, drawing up into a compact body, and presenting to every quarter an armed front, which cannot be attacked without the most serious danger to tne assailant. It has also been observed, that few quadrupeds evince greater sagacity than the sheep in the selection of its food; and its acuteness of perception in regard to the approach of a storm is no less remarkable.
The varieties of this useful animal are so various, that no two countries produce sheep of the same kind, an obvious difference subsisting in every breed, either in the size, the shape, the fleece, or the horns
No country produces finer sheep than Great Britain. The improved Leicestershire breed is held in the greatest esteem in most parts of the kingdom, and almost all the principal breeders endeavour to introduce some mixture of it into their stock. The Lincolnshire breed are of a large size, and their fleeces, in point of weight and utility, greatly exceed those of Spain, owing to the rich luxuriant marshes on which they feed; but their flesh is coarse, lean, and not so finely flavoured' as that of smaller sheep. The Dorsetshire sheep are, for the most part, white-faced, with long, slender legs, and scanty fleeces ; their flesh is sweet and well-flavoured, and some varieties of the breed are diffused through most of the southern countries. The largest breed of English sheep, however, are to be found on the banks of the Icis, which runs through fertile tract of country, dividing the counties of Durham and Yorkshire. The Shetland sheep are generally destitute of horns, and peculiarly distinguished by the shortness of their tails.
In the mountainous parts of Wales, where the sheep enjoy so great a share of liberty as to render them very wild, they do not always collect into' large flocks, but
frequently graze in parties of eight, or ten, or twelve, of which one is stationed at a distance from the rest to give notice of the approach of danger. On observing any one approach, at the distance of two or three hundred yards, the sentinel turns his face to the enemy, keeping a vigilant eye upon his motions, and allowing him to advance as near as eighty or a hundred yards; but if the suspected foe attempts to come nearer, the watchful guard alarms his comrades by a loud hiss or whistle, which is repeated two or three times. Upon this signal the whole party scour away with inconceivable rapidity, and soon gain the most inaccessible parts of the mountains,
THE MANY-HORNED SHEEP.
These animals are natives of Iceland, and differ from the English breed in many particulars; having straight upright ears, a small tail, and sometimes four, five, or even eight horns. Their wool is long, smooth, and hairy;
and under the outward coat, which falls off at certain periods, they have another covering resembling a short and soft fur. They are of a dark brown colour, and the quantity of wool produced by each sheep is about four pounds. They acquire considerable fatness by feeding on the scurvy-grass, of which they are extremely fond. In stormy weather they hide themselves in caves from the fury of the elements; but when such retreats are not to be found, they collect together during the heavy falls of snow, and place their heads near each other, with their muzzles inclined towards the ground. This not only prevents their being