FINE WOOLED SHEEP. The introduction of fine wooled sheep into the United States. dates from early in the century, through im portations of the best individuals to be obtained from Spanish flocks, and later, of French Merinos, Saxon, and Silesian. Judicious breed ing for many years has resulted in what is now.
known as American Merinos, larger, better wooled, and better adapted to take on flesh than any of the original breeds. In fact, the crosses made from time to time with Saxony, French, and Silesian sheep, resulted in disappointment. The leading strains from careful breeding and ,selection, during many years, resulted in what were known as the Atwood, the Rich, and the Hammond Merinos, from the names of the respective breeders. They are now almost uni versally disseminated over the country, under the name of American Merinos and, all things considered, are without doubt the best breed of fine wooled sheep in the world, not excepting those of Australia, in which country the breed ing of fine wooled sheep has been carried to great perfection, as an examination of their varied and superior fine wooled fleeces at the American Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia amply attested. The fine wooled sheep are represented by the improved Paulars, and the improved Infantados. The other American breed is a cross of 'French Merino ewes with Ainerican rams. A quarter of French blood with three-quarters of American blood, increases the size, but the French Merinos always were tender, and not good feeders. The French Merinos were a mongrel race, the worst of them gaunt, flat sided, hard feeders, and the best of them never carried the wool the American Merinos do., We doubt much if a flock, of true French Merinos can now be found in the United 'States, and, their extinction here, if not already .accomplished, will surely follow. The Saxons are delicate, but with wool of exceeding fine ness. Nevertheless they were found to 'be net adapted to the United States. The flocks of Australia, many of them, received a large infu sion of Saxony blood. In the United States they have almost entirely disappeared, and for the reason that the American Merinos were found to be second to none for the production of fine wool of most excellent quality. The Silesian sheep as known in the United States, are larger' than any American Merino, with longer and thinner necks in proportion to their size, and with, longer legs. Their wool is of very superior quality, and is carried compactly and evenly over the carcass, but so far they have not held their own 'with our well established American Merinos, of the two principal families of the orig inal Spanish stock a the country. As illustrating French Merinos of the last century and also of the present day, the accompanying cuts will give the reader a good idea of their characteristics. Dr. Randall, than whom there is no better authority, in the United States, describes the improved Infantados, and Paulars as follows: The improved Infantados are a fourth if not a third larger than their Spanish ancestors, and are the largest family of American Merinos. Full grown ewes, in their prime, weigh about 100 pounds, and some of them 120 and 130 pounds. They are much rounder in the rib, broader, fuller in the quarters, shorter proportionally in the limbs, and stronger in the bone than, were the Spanish sheep. They are indeed models of compact ness and of beauty when judged by fine-ivool stand ards. Their hardiness in respect to locomotion, or, in other words, their abil ity to travel,, is not prob ably as great as it was sixty years ago; for, having no necessity to drive his sheep eight hundred miles a year, as did the Spaniards, the American breeder, in the place of that useless ability to travel, has developed those qualities which in crease aptitude to take on flesh and produce wool. The improved American Infantados appear to be quite as hardy in other par ticulars as their ancestors, are more prolific and better nurses, and when properly fed, resist other vicissitudes equally well, and endure cold even better; but probably demand better keeping. They will thrive, however,' where none of the mutton breeds above described would find sufficient subsistence. Choice Infantado flocks with the usual, number of sheep of different ages, yield from nine to ten pounds of wool per head. The fleece is longer, thicker, and covers the different parts of the animal far better than it did on the Spanish sheep. The quality is probably as good. The improved American Paulars bear the same rela tion, in several particulars, to the preceding, that the Devons do to the Short Horns among cattle. They are smaller, consume less food, and perhaps can better endure deprivation of it. Accordingly they are the sheep for cold, meagre soils; for the scanty herbage of moun tain districts, and for plains subject to periodical droughts. They have about the same general improved points of form as the Infants.dos, but are shorter bodied. As breeders and nurses they are equal. Their fleeces are of equal quality, but are a pound or two lighter to the head. For that reason, and on account of the greater size of the former, is, at the present time, a prevailing inclination to cross the Paular flocks with Infantado rams. This produces an admir able result for the wants of many farmers, but it would be very unfortunate if the present mania for great fleeces should lead to the loss, in its essential family purity, of a class of sheep so well adapted to extensive regions of our country. Mr. W. R. Sandford, of Vermont, went to Europe, in 1851, in the interest of himself and some other gentlemen, including Mr. Hammond, and with the view of importing valuable animals if those could be found better than at home. This gentleman visited the best flocks of France, Saxony and Silesia, and purchased representa , tives of some of the best French and Silesian sheep, not with a view of breeding them himself, for he was satisfied that they were inferior to these fleeces are very heavy they do not injure the vitality of the sheep, and the'keep that will fix a wether nicely for market will keep the Merino in fine condition. Of course fleeces of
the above weight will shrink in cleansing far more than the long wools; yet no other breed of sheep has probably been produced that, in proportion to live weight, will produce as much cleansed wool per head as the Merino. Between eight and nine pounds have been realized in numerous instances from a single fleece. We may add, that, as good results have been reached with sheep by our best breeders West; and, for the reason that, while they have brought as high intelligence to the art of as any.. where else in the world, profiting by the experi ence of others, they have spared no expense in obtaining the best sheep possible. The result may be seen yearly at our principal fairs. The illustration, page 345, of a group of American those at home, but to reimburse the expenses of the journey. Nevertheless, they did make the experiment, but it resulted unsatisfactorily and it is well known that those who crossed the Saxony sheep upon their Spanish flocks, in an early day when the Saxon fever raged, did incal culable injury. A Vermont correspondent of the Department of Agriculture at Washington, writing of Merinos in New England, in 1869, says, the heaviest fleeces shown by Mr. Atwood, of Connecticut, twenty-five years since, were five pounds from ewes, and from five to eight pounds from rams. Now eighteen pounds are taken from best ewes, and twenty-six to thirty from the best rams, the growth of twelve months. The Child Brothels, bred several years from a ram that sheared as follows: First fleece, sixteen pounds; live weight after Shearing, sixty-four pounds; second fleece, tWenty-four pounds; live weight ninety-nine pounds; third fleece, twenty six pounds; live weight 107 pounds. Although Paular Merino ewe Tegs, (sheep in their second year), illustrates the perfection of breeding of the last twenty years and extending to the present time. As showing something of fine wooled sheep breeding in various parts of the country, the following statements to the Department of Agriculture, Washington, gathered some ten years ago, will furnish a good basis from which the young breeder can calculate. E. D. Battles, of Ohio, makes the following statement: That for eight years, including 1862 and 1869, he kept 300 to 400 of the long stapled Spanish Merino sheep. The average weight of fleece for eight years was four and three-quarters pounds. The wool was sold annually at an average price of sixty cents per pound. The increase of the flock over and above the loss was twenty-five per cent. After the flock was increased to 400 (commenced with 300) it was kept at that number by selling the three years old wethers, dry ewes, and drafting from the remainder of the flock such as were thought to be of the least profit to keep. The sheep that were sold brought, on an average, $3 per head. The annual proceeds of,' each 100 sheep were: The average annual expense of 100 sheep, for eight years was as follows: Profits on 100 sheep, over and above all expenses, $77. The following statement shows the cost and _ profits in keeping seventy ewes, twenty lambs, and twenty rams,- the Merino flock of C. A. Miller, a wool grower of Michigan: A wool-grower in Livingston county, Mo., makes report of a flock of 500 Merinos, purchased at $780, which at the end of the year he sold for ' the same amount, after selling their wool for $500 and keeping a handsome young flock from the increase. The mountain districts of the. South have the finest sheep ranges, almost entirely unoccupied, on which grass sufficient for millions of sheep annually decays, of no immediate advantage, and of no remote benefit except as a fertilizer of the soil. Merino sheep would thrive upon, this herbage, and wherever the experiment has been fairly tried great profit has resulted. They also do well upon the lowlands of the South, if• they escape the ravages of dogs and vagrants. It is worthy of record that the South is moving in preventing the kill ing of sheep by dogs, and in some sections sheep are now fairly protected'. As an example: In Pulaski county, Ga., a farmer 800 head of sheep, in 1868, of which the following state ment is made of debit and credit: A Texas correspondent sends the following tabulation, compiled with the aid of records , from actual experience in wool-growing, with a flock of selected grade' Merinos improved by thorough-bred Merino rams. The annual in crease, allowing for losses of lambei is placed at eighty per cent., half males, which are sold annually, and the ewes added to the flock.
In 1879 were 38,123,800 sheep in the United States, the value of which was $79,023, 984. The great hulk of these were American Merinos, their grades and crosses. The average value of these sheep was $2.07 each. Of the ntimber as stated, the States having 1,000,000 or over was as follows: California, 6,889,000; Texas, 4,500,000; Ohio, 4,040,000; New York, 2,121,000; Michigan, 1,820,000; Pennsylvania, 1,666,000; Wisconsin, 1,313,000; Missouri, 1,296, 400; Oregon, 1,160,600; Illinois, Indiana, 1,039,500; Kentucky, 1,020,000; Nevada, Colorado and the Territories had 3,435,800. Thus it will be seen that the fine wool interest of the United States is one of immense importance, both in the annual clip of wool and-in the sale of lambs and mutton sheep. In 1840 there were 19,311,346 sheep in the United States. The average numbpr of pounds of wool is given at 2.5. At that time, the average for France, a country of fine wool, was 2.4. In 1860, the average in the United States is stated at four pounds. The returns for 1870 showed 28,477, 951 sheep," shearing 100,102,387 pounds of wool, a fraction less than four pounds per head aver age. In 1875 the 36,000,000 sheep of the United States sheared 155,000,000 pounds of wool, or 4.30 pounds per head average. For manage ment and diseases the reader is referred to the article Sheep, and to the various diseases as treated of.