29 Agriculture Since the 18th Century

sheep, breeds, cattle, breed, kent, farming, british, local, found and stock

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The final report on the Census of Produc tion (1913) estimated the agricultural output of Great Britain at the value of f158,800,000, employing about 1,840,000 persons. The agri cultural output of Ireland was valued at f45, 574.000, and number of persons employed, about 984,000.

Live Stock.— But the special excellence of the British farmer has been his success in improving and fixing certain breeds of live stock, which have now become the standard breeds all the world over. Up to the middle of the 18th century there were a number of types of cattle and sheep to be found in the different districts of the British Isles, as in any other old farming country; but these types were ill-defined and there was no common or conscious action toward fixing them in any de sirable direction. Robert Bakewell, of Dishley (1725-1795), working on Leicester sheep and Longhorn cattle, first showed how a breed could be improved and fixed. Bakewell aimed at an animal which would mature earlier and would put on its increase in the most profitable places. Carrying a type in his mind, he selected a num ber of animals approximating to his ideal and bred only from them; then by a period of close inbreeding among such of the progeny as con formed to the type, he was able both to ad vance rapidly in the desired direction and also to eliminate a good deal of the tendency to fall back toward the old unimproved class of ani mal. At the same time it was found that this close inbreeding resulted in sires which had great power of stamping their character on their offspring, even when the dam is of a different or common strain. Thus Bakewell's Leicester sheep have been employed to give quality to almost all the other local races, and there are nowadays few breeds of sheep in exist ence who do not possess a strain of Leicester blood in them. Bakewell's Longhorns have not had a like success, but the same principles were applied to the native cattle of Teesdale, the Durhams or "Shorthorns" by the brothers Coiling, who died in 1820 and 1836, respectively. Their work, continued by the Booths and by Bates, resulted in the modern Shorthorns, the typical beef-producing cattle of the world, with which, in the main, all the newer countries have been stocked.

The same progress was applied to other local breeds of cattle; the Herefords and the Devons in England, and the Aberdeen Angus in Scotland, have in the same way attained to far more than a local reputation, as also have several of the breeds of sheep, like the Southdowns or the Lincolns. Notwithstanding the existence in all old-settled countries of in digenous races, stock of British breeds are to be found all over the continent of Europe, either kept pure or more generally used for grading up the local type; while in the newer countries, which have become the great food producers of the world, none but breeds of British origin are to be found, with the excep tion of the Frisian or Holstein cattle, the Merino sheep and the Percheron horse. Also, the United Kingdom remains the great foun tain from which these countries find it necessary to replenish their breeding stock, so that the production of pedigree animals of high quality continues to be one of the most lucrative items in British farming. In 1916 there were in the United Kingdom 2,100,000 horses, 12,412,596 cattle, 28,770,692 sheep, and 3,604,620 pigs.

Agricultural Farming has now become a highly specialized business, showing great adaptation to the diversities of soil, cli mate and markets in the British Islands. Be ginning with the southeastern counties; Kent, Sussex, Surrey, and Hampshire form a fairly defined area, possessing in general a warm and dry climate. Here, but particularly in Kent, may be found the greatest development of market-gardening, fruit growing, hop cultiva tion, and other similar highly intensive forms of farming. As far as regards the production of very early crops this district cannot compete with the Channel Islands or Cornwall, but as main crops the standard green vegetables are grown in great breadths. This district is also noted for its hardy fruit growing; near South ampton on one hand and later in North Kent the greater part of the strawberries for London are produced. The best cherries have long been

a spgcial feature of East Kent, which country is also the largest producer of plums, apples, currants, and nuts.. East Kent shows without doubt the best kept orchards in the country. Hop cultivation is also another leading feature of this district; no other farming industry is carried on so intensively or spends more on labor during the growth of the crop. The best of the hops march with the fruit in East and Mid Kent, but Sussex is also a large grower, as also is a belt of rich land stretching from Farnham in Surrey as far as Petersfield in Hampshire. The district under review has not perhaps the same reputation for general farming as it has for fruit and hops; it pos sesses, however, several distinct and valuable races of stock. The Southdown sheep are na tives of the open chalk downs of Sussex; small, fine-wooled, and models of symmetry, they have been extensively used for improving the mutton of other breeds and form a great element in the foundation of such breeds as the Hampshire and Oxford Downs, the Shrop shires and the Suffolks. Kent possesses in the °Romney Marsh" sheep one of the older breeds of the country; big, hardy, and long-wooled, which have lately proved valuable for cross breeding in all parts of the world. The Hamp shire Downs constitute a large framed, rapidly growing breed that has been formed from a local coarse sheep by crossing with the South down. It exists in large numbers on the light arable lands of the great chalk area of which Hampshire forms the centre. Sussex also pos sesses a local breed of cattle; a horned, all-red, typically beef-producing breed, which has not spread greatly beyond its proper borders. Hampshire passes insensibly into the West Country — Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall — a typical stock district, showing less and less arable land toward the west. This is one of the chief dairying countries, milk being sent to London; while Somerset, in particular, is the original home of the "Cheddar" cheese, the typical cheese turned out nowadays on such a large scale in the United States and Canada. The cattle are mainly Shorthorns, though Devon possesses a dairy breed of its own, the South Hams, which have been raised from the true Devons by an infusion of Guernsey blood. The true Devons are an all-red, beef-producing breed, doubtless of common origin with the Sussex, but which has gone all over the world as among the thriftiest and most profitable of grazers. The Dorset horned sheep are characteristic of this area, a short-wooled, horned breed valuable for' the production of early lambs. Somerset and Devon are also great apple-growing coun ties, though the fruit does not receive the care which is to be found in Kent, and much of the product is only useful for cider-making. The southwest of Cornwall possesses an extremely mild climate, frosts being few and of no great severity; it has therefore become an important market-gardening district for the production of the earlier green vegetables and potatoes. The Channel Islands share the same advantages of climate, and, thanks to the skill and industry of their inhabitants, form perhaps the most pros perous agricultural community in the Kingdom. The land is divided into small holdings and is highly rented, but the farming is intensive and the crops valuable. In jersey early pota toes, followed by green vegetables, form the staple crops; in Guernsey there has been a great development of farming under glass; cu cumbers, tomatoes, grapes, early beans and though flowers being the chief products. Each island possesses a special, thou closely-related, breed of cattle, which by law has been kept pure and unmixed from any foreign blood for more than a century. These Channel Island breeds repre sent the descendants of an original Celtic race of cattle and are distinguished by the tendency to a yellow skin and black hair; they are small in frame, and produce large quantities of milk far richer in butter than that of any other breed. The Jerseys, in particular, have been largely exported to America as milk and butter producers.

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