MUTTON SHEEP. Within the last ten or fifteen years the demand for superior mutton has led to the extensive importation of sheep adapted particularly to the production pf mut ton. Flocks of the improved breeds are now found all over the United States, and especially within easy reach of our larger cities. The wool of some of the mutton breeds is also eagerly sought for by manufacturers of clothing wool, and for the manufacture of various fabrics in which a long stapled or combing wool is desired. For superiority of mutton the South Down stands pre-eminent everywhere. In the Atlantic States north, the South Down is crossed on selected grade Merino ewes, giving lambs that are much sought for. In the Atlantic States, South, South Down and Cotswolds are largely bred. In the West the Cotswold has become a favorite sheep, for its large size, constitutional vigor, and the length and quality of the wool. In Kentucky and Tennessee in the Blue Grass and other regions of flush pasturage, the Lincolna are gaining ground on account of their great size, and the length and luster of the wool. In the hill region, the Merino, the South Down and their crosses, are used. The Leice4ster is also much liked by many breeders East, West and South for their early maturity, and fattening qualities for the food eaten. On the great plains and the mountain regions of the United States, where sheep are herded in immense flocks, the Merino and its crosses with native and Mexican sheep are used, since the larger breeds do not work well in large flocks. One hundred of mutton sheep is about the number that should be flocked together, but the natives and Merinos may be kept in flocks of one thousand or more. The natives and Merinos, either Spanish, French or American Merinos, are not distinctively mutton breeds. In fact the quality of their mutton is not first rate, neither is it produced of any considerable weight per carcase. Yet in the United States, from the large numbers kept, the bulk of the mutton of the country is produced from natives, Merinos, and their crosses. Yet in treating of mutton sheep, they will not be included, but will be found under the head of fine-wooled sheep, which see. The breeds of sheep therefore that are considered the best breeds for mutton are the coarse wools, short, middle and long, as distinguished from the finer Merino wools. Of the improved mutton breeds, the South Down holds its rank against all others, btit in the United States, wool as well as mutton must be taken into consideration. Then again Ameri cans are not so choice in their taste for mutton as the English and hence the larger breeds that will produce high grades of combing wool, weight of carcase, and aptitude to lay on flesh are sought for. Nevertheless in the neighbor hood of large cities, prime South Down mutton will always pay. The Lincolnshire sheep, one of the largest races in England, will show the best staple of long combing wool, next in rank is the Leicester, a race of sheep for combing wool the most generally distributed of any in England. It is tender in constitution, but of early matu rity, and prime fattening quality. The next in rank for combing wool' are the Cotswold sheep. In the United States, and especially in the West the Cotswold are much liked, they are hardy in constitution, mature well and make excellent mutton except it is rather fat. The long wooled sheep that have been the most widely dissem mated in the United States, of the short or middle wools, are the South Downs, the Ramp shire Downs, the Shropshire Downs, and the Oxfordshire Downs. Of these the Hampshire Downs are the largest, averaging 113 pounds thirteen ounces each, and the South Downs eighty-eight pounds, in two lots of fifty each. Of the long wools the Cotswolds, Leicesters, and New Oxfordshire, have been widely spread. Of these fifty each of Leicester and Cotswold weighed to average the first 101 pounds and the second 119 pounds thirteen ounces each. The Leicester as generally shown in this country and in England are larger, rivaling the Cotswolds in weight. Even in Canada where much attention is paid to Leicester sheep, there is said to be comparatively few flocks of the true Leicester, probably from the fact that the true Leicester is delicate in constitution. Yet they have early maturity, good form, and tendency to fatten, breeds as he saw them. Speaking of the Downs he says: The distinguishing characteristics of the ancient Sussex Downs have been retained more fully in the course of improvement than have the peculiarities of any other improved breed. That improvement has been effected, as I have little reason to doubt, solely by selection, there being little, if any, positive evidence that the Leicester or other blood has aided in the amelioration. In the production of Hampshire and Shropshire and other breeds, bearing the Down name, it is well known that other blood has been effectively used; but it should be remembered that these families, or rather breeds, are not really improved Downs, but have come from selected individuals of other hardy prim itive breeds, moulded• into a modification of the South Down type by large and repeated infusion and are said to have been made by crossing the Leicester on Lincoln, and other of the large breeds. In England, Leicester wethers from twelve to fifteen months old have been marketed to weigh from 120 to 150 pounds each. The fleeces will average six to seven pounds each. In this country they have been sheared, wethers up to fifteen pounds, and breeding ewes eight pounds. The New Oxfordshires were produced between Leicester and Cotswold, the latter blood predominating. Yearlings in ordinary flesh weigh 125 to 175 pounds, and fat, full grown wethers from 175 to 200 pounds. For mutton, however, the Downs excel all others in the superiority of ,their flesh: and they are justly prized sere as in England, where quality is the test. Mr. J. R. Dodge, in a late visit to England, thus describes them, and some other mutton of that blood, with occasional dashes of Leices ter to give greater size and aptitude for fattening. The changes effected in the true South (or Sussex) Down have been mainly these: Speckled faces have been changed to a uniform tint of brown or fawn color, sometimes almost a gray; the forehead and cheeks have been partially covered with wool; a greater symmetry of form has been obtained; a larger size and greater fattening aptitude. The flock of Lord Walsing ham exhibited some deviation from the Sussex type, having somewhat greater length and a decided development of the fore quarter, giving greater weight, at the expense of reduced value, to the butcher. They are splendid animals, and have been largely sought by continental pur chasers, though disapproved by many breeders of the South Down in its purity. The true South Down may, perhaps, be considered a purer breed, stamping its peculiarities upon its cross bred offspring more certainly and strongly' than any other of the English breeds; and for this reason, together with its hardiness and the unsurpassed quality of 'its mutton, it is deemed of greater practical value in its crosses than in its pure-bred flocks. But for the fact that quan tity and quickness in lamb production are of more pecuniary value than superior quality, it would far surpass the Leicester in its prevalent use for cross-bred early lambs. The Hampshire Down, see cut page 665, bred largely on the chalk-downs of Berkshire, Hants,Wilts and Dor set, was originally the result of crosses upon the Wiltshire horned sheep and the Berkshire Nott, which secured greater size and increased hardi ness of constitution. Sixty years ago, in the hands of different breeders, working with differ ent aims, there was a lack of uniformity, which began to disappear abofft 1845, under the skillful efforts of modern breeding, and the necessity of obtaining superior flesh-making tendency through an infusion of the blood of some of Jonas Webb's largest and best-fleshed Downs. This Hamp shire, or West county Down, much larger than the true Down, and superior in fattening apti tude, is the natural result of the enclosure of the commons, the introduction of artificial manures, and the production of such crops as turnips,rape, vetches, trifolium, rye and Italian rye grass.
This is one of the facts with which the history of British sheep husbandry teems, illustrating the necessity of change in breeds, with changed con ditions of production or consumption. It is 'estimated that the weight, both of mutton and wool, have been increased in this region fifty per cent. The statistics of 10,000 Hampshires for three successive years showed the average yield of lambs to be ninety-one per cent., the mortality of ewes, five and a half per cent., and of Legs, three per cent. per annum. The wool is of fine quality, but short staple, averaging four and a half pounds per fleece. The best speci mens of these sheep may be found at the Overton and We hill fairs, in Hampshire, and the Brit ford and Wilton fairs in Wiltshire. The wether lambs are now usually sold in the latter part of summer or early autumn, and the ewes are kept three years for breeding. The Shrop shire Down, though of comparatively recent origin,• still occasionally exhibiting variations from absolute fixity of type, are very widely diffused and highly regarded. They resemble the Sussex Downs, with greater size and weight, a somewhat longer face (which is uniformly dark in color, but not black), a full and large eye, flat and well-wooled forehead, and thin and erect ears of good size. The quality of the flesh is, superior, being close-grained, the tissues well bedded in fat, and the color dark and rich. And while the mutton is claimed to be equal to the best South Down, the fleece is much heavier, a fine flock on good land often yielding seven pounds per fleece. They do not mature quite so early as the Leicester or Cotswold, on account of the closer texture of the meat, but with ordinary management yearlings can be marketed in good condition during the summer without other sup plies than abundant grass. It is a very prolific breed, twins coming in large proportion—fifty per cent. of doubles being a common result. There have been instances in which a flock of a score or two of ewes have brought up more than twice the number of lambs. The yearlings are frequently made to yield eighteen to twenty pounds per early as May. There is a. reported instance of an old wether being fed up to fifty-nine pounds per quarter. As compared with the Hampshire, they are less in size, but they mature earlier. The Oxford Down is another improvement of local forms of this branch of farm economy, and locally highly esteemed. There is another breed of English sheep inhabit ing the rich, alluvial soils of Kent, known as the Romney Marsh sheep, which pertinaciously retains its distinctive features, though modified and improved by recent breeding. It is a large sheep, not very symmetrical in form, narrow fore-quarters and flat sides, and coarse bone and muscle. It has a white face, a long and thick head, and a tuft of wool on the fore head. The wool is of more value than the mut ton, perhaps (but would not be profitable without it), being long, fine and lustrous, and in demand at good prices for export to Flanders and to France for the manufacture of cloth of gold and similar fabrics. Other breeds have been intro duced upon the marshes, but can not maintain_ themselves in competition-with the Romneys. The country id flat, open to the east, and very bleak, yet these sheep live through the winter in the open fields, and have little protection or supplied feed. The ewes are comparatively pro lific, about thirty per cent. of doubles being expected in reproduction. The lambs come late, after the severity of the winter is over. With a. good course of turnip feeding, after the first wintering, they can be brought to seventeen pounds, sometimes to eighteen pounds per quar ter, yet they are more usually kept over a second winter. They are not very early in maturing, and grass is the main reliance for growth, if not for fattening. ' The lands where breeding sheep are kept generally carry three per acre in winter, and five or six in summer. The fattening fields carry four or five sheep. There are cattle on the' farms, but sheep greatly predominate, and fur nish the principal profits. The breed of British_ sheep kept to the greatest age, and fed almost, exclusively upon the natural growth of perma nent pastures, and the management of which, therefore, bears the nearest analogy to our own practice in sheep-husbandry, is that generally known ps the Scotch Black-face. It also has the widest range of any of the British breeds. It is found, and has been for centuries—so long a period that doubts exist whether they are abori ginal or an importation during the Norman con quest or the Norwegian occupation of the Wes tern Isles—upon nearly all the mountain lands of Great Britain, including much of the area of Scotland, the mountain chain extending through the north midland counties of England, and the heath and moorlands-both in England and Scot land. They are a hardy race, whose place could not be occupied by any of the more improved breeds, enduring, to an almost incredible extent, both cold and hunger, and getting a fair subsis tence beneath the drifts of winter, thriving where thet pampered long-wools would starve. And yet they are not Merinos. Their wool is of inferior quality, hairy, uneven, used for carpets and coarse cloths, and weighs about four pounds per fleece. The average three-year old wether yields twenty-eight pounds per quarter, deemed unequaled by epicurean taste in quality of meat and richness of gravy. The ewes are kept for five years, and are then drafted without distinction, while the wethers are full grown and fat on good grass lands at three, but they are now generally sold for fattening on tur nips in the low countries. Thus the slowest of breeds in maturing is made to subserve the pur poses of meat-production, and increase the farm profits under apparently unfavorable conditions. As the Black-faces monopolize the higher moun tain lands, the Cheviots occupy the lower eleva tions, the hills of the border counties between England and Scotland. They have been system atically improved by the crossing of carefully selected rams of Lincolnshire, before the day of the improved Lincoln race. It has been claimed that the Leicester blood produced the improve ment, but the hardiness of the breed and the testimony of breeders tend to invalidate the opin ion. They were formerly light in hone and wool, of scraggy frame, but with a constitution wonderfully hardy. Draining of lands, pro vision of shelter, and a greater abundance, both of summer and winter food, have aided the efforts of the breeder, and the result has been one of the most useful and profitable of known breeds of sheep. No animal has so contributed to the prosperity of the Scottish border and hill farms as the Cheviot sheep. Their mutton ranks very high in the Smithfield and some people give it a preference over the game flavored mutton of the Black-face. In the mountainous section of Somerset are found the Exmoor sheep, a horned breed, so hardy that a few days' burial in a snowdrift is said to be not too severe a test of their endurance. They have long been remarked for their drum-like round ness of form, though they are becoming square under the recent efforts of breeders They are larger, and in all respects better than the Welsh mountain sheep, good feeding bringing them up to eighteen and twenty pounds per quarter, and in some cases to twenty-four pounds. At eighteen months they can be made to weigh fifteen to twenty pounds per quarter. The Welsh, the Scotch Black-face, the Cheviot, have been tried upon the Somerset hills, but most farmers have gone back to the improved Exmoor. They have white faces, legs and fleeces; the wool close set, and now increased in weight from three pounds up to four pounds. Their mutton is considered of excellent quality. The drafted ewes are often purchased for lamb-breed ing, as they are prolific mothers and good nurses. The Welsh is another mountain breed, indig