Henry Stewart.

The shepherd's manual. A practical treatise on the sheep online

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But the English climate is excessively moist, and rain falls two
days out of three on the average. It is for this reason, and the in-
jurious effect upon the sheep of the exposure upon muddy fields
to cold wintry rains, that the practice is falling into disuse. In
parts of the United States we have every advantage for making
use of so cheap and convenient a plan of feeding sheep upon
these root crops that are not injured by moderate frosts. Where
the fall of snow is light and soon melts away, as in Virginia, Ten-


nessee, Missouri, and the states south of these, this system of win-
ter feeding has been practiced for many years by the better class
of farmers with success. Mr. C. W. Howard, of Georgia, a
highly trustworthy gentleman, a farmer and a frequent writer
upon agricultural topics, and who has given much attention to the
culture of fodder crops, communicated some time ago to the Rural
Carolinian the following directions and facts in regard to the cul-
ture of turnips for sheep feeding in the open field in the south :
" Take a field, plow it deeply with a two-horse plow, subsoil if
possible, harrow thoroughly and roll. Lay off the land in rows
two-and-a-half feet apart, with a wide and deep furrow. If there
be not stable manure, apply three to five hundred pounds of Am-
moniated Superphosphate of Lime ; the addition of some potash
would be useful ; throw the dirt back with two furrows, and level
the ridge with a board. Use the Weathersfield drill, or some
other, costing about nine dollars. Sow with it two pounds of seed
to the acre. The "Weathersfield drill opens the furrow, drops the
seed, covers, and then rolls it by one and the same process. When
the plants have formed the third leaf, which is rough, thin them
out with the hoe and hand to about eight inches apart, give them
a good plowing with a narrow scooter, and the cultivation is
completed. The cultivation of an acre of turnips will cost as
follows :

Plowing ..$ 2 00

Harrowing 50

Boiling 50

Seed.. 100

Sowing: 25

Hoeing and Thinning 2 00

Plowing 1 00

Fertilizer 1000

$17 25

" The result will vary according to the soil, the season, and the
cultivation. Five hundred bushels is a poor crop. One thousand
bushels is a good crop. Fifteen hundred bushels is an extraordi-
nary crop. This number of bushels, (1,550), was made last year
by Dr. Lavender, of Pike County, Ga. That gentleman took the
premium at the last Georgia State Fair. His statements deserve
implicit reliance. They were made under oath. His process of
obtaining this remarkable yield was as follows :

" * The soil was a sandy loam. Turned over a heavy clover sod
in June with a Dixie plow ; harrowed twice with a Nishwitz har-
row on the 21st of August ; ran twice in the furrow, deposited in
the bottom of the furrow 3,600 pounds of stable manure, com-


pounded with 100 pounds of the Stono Phosphate ; let it stand six
weeks, then applied as above stated. Cultivated with a cultivator
by horse power no hoeing ; left about six plants to the yard ;
had only one rain on them after plowing, and that a light shower.
Sowed two pounds of seed to the acre ; planted by hand through
a guano bugle, and then rolled.'

"What does it cost to raise a' bushel of turnips? If we make
500 bushels to the acre, the cost will be about four cents per
bushel ; if 1,000, the cost will be about two cents per bushel. This
does not include gathering, storing, and marketing, because the
use that it is proposed to make of the turnips involves none of these

" What use, then, is to be made of the crop ? Feed them off on
the land with sheep, the process ordinarily known as folding.
For this purpose a portable fence is necessary. (These are de-
scribed hereafter).

" The fold should not include more turnips than the sheep will
eat off clean in twenty-four, or, at the utmost, forty-eight hours.
If it be larger, the turnips will be wasted. Sheep not accustomed
to turnips, may at first refuse to eat them. But let them get quite
hungry, and then sprinkle some salt upon the turnips. After they
once get a taste of them the only difficulty will be to get enough
of them. One thousand sheep will consume an acre of' turnips in
twenty-four hours ; one hundred in ten days and nights. With
these data, the size of the pen can be graduated. One-tenth of an
acre should be the size of the fold or pen per one hundred sheep.
One acre of turnips will support one hundred sheep for ten days,
three acres one month, nine acres three months. This is not the-
ory, but the result of actual experiment. The enemy of the turnip
is the fly. There are two means of preventing the ravages of this
troublesome insect. One is very thick seeding, the other is dust-
ing the young plants as soon as they are above ground, with un-
leached ashes, or air-slacked lime. After they reach the rough
leaf there is no further danger from this source. The thinning
should take place as soon as the rough leaf is formed. If this
thinning is delayed, the crop will be seriously injured."

For the northern states the culture of the turnip, ruta-baga, su-
gar beet, mangel, and cabbage, is as follows: the preparation of the
ground being alike for all, the time of sowing alone being differ-
ent. Sugar beets and mangels are sown from April to June,
the early sown crop being invariably the heaviest. Ruta-bagas are
sown June 15th to July 1st. Cabbage for late crop is sown in
seed beds in June to be transplanted in July. Yellow Aberdeen



turnips are sown in July, and white turnips in July or August.
The soil is prepared by previous plowing and manuring, and made
fine and mellow ; the seed is sown in drills 30 inches apart, and
thinned out to 12 to 18 inches apart in the rows. A crop of roots
grown 18 inches apart, each root weighing 6 Ibs. , will yield 34 tons,
or 1,100 bushels to
the acre. For beets
or mangels, 4 Ibs.
of seed per acre is
required if sown
with a drill ; of
ruta-bagas and tur-
nips 2 Ibs. of seed is
sown. The best beet
is Lane's Improved
Sugar Beet ; the
best mangel, the
Long Red ; the
best ruta-baga, the
Purple-top Swede ; the Aberdeen turnip is better than the white,
and nearly as good as the ruta-baga ; the white turnip has the ad-



vantage that it can be sown late and follow an oat, barley, or rye
crop. The harvesting is done by cutting off the tops with a sharp



hoe and plowing a furrow on one side of the row of roots, when
they may be pulled from the ground with the hoe or by drawing
a dull harrow over the field. The crop is saved by keeping the
roots in cellars or pits. Pits are simply conical heaps covered
with straw and earth sufficient to keep out the frost, a foot of
straw and a few inches of earth being sufficient protection, (see
fig. 1). Roots should be sliced or pulped when fed, as they are
more readily eaten,
and there is no dan-
ger of the sheep
choking by swallow-
ing too large pieces.
A simple cutting ma-
chine is shown in fig.
2. It consists of a
wooden wheel fur-
nished with long
knives set at an angle
similar to the irons
in a plane, which cut
the roots into thin
slices. Fig. 3 is a
pulper in which, in-
stead of knives, there
are 144 sharp chisel Fi - 3. BOOT PULPER.

points made of quarter-inch steel, (see a), by which the roots are
torn into shreds and reduced to pulp.

When crops are fed upon the ground, a special arrangement of
temporary fences is used. These are constructed of hurdles, of
which there are several kinds. One of the most readily con-
structed hurdles is made of light stakes pointed at the ends and
fastened together with bars of split or sawed saplings or laths, such
as are shown at fig. 4. These are made in panels about nine feet
long, with stakes five and a half feet high. A line of these hurdles
is set across the field, enclosing a plot in which the sheep are con-
fined, until the crop on the ground is consumed. The shepherd
takes a light pointed iron bar with which he makes holes in the
ground to receive the pointed lower ends of the stakes, and drives
them down firmly by striking the tops with a wooden mallet. As
the crop is eaten, the line of hurdles is moved along the field until
the whole is consumed. Much economy in labor of setting the
hurdles may be exercised by laying out the plots in a certain man-
ner. For instance, if a square field of ten acres is to be fed off, the


plan shown in fig. 5 will be found very convenient. The distance
across the field is 220 yards. This is the least length of hurdles
that can be used. But if the field is divided off into strips across,
the whole of the hurdles must be moved each time, and if the field

Fig. 4. HURDLE.

is divided into eight strips, there will be seven removals of every
hurdle, or the whole length of netting. In the plan here shown,
only half this work is necessary, and a field may be divided into
eight sections by moving half the hurdles seven times. For in-
stance, plot 1 is fed by placing the ^
hurdles from a to b, and from c to d.
Plot number 2 is fed by moving the
line from e, d to b, e. The next setting
of the hurdles is from e to/, the next
from b to g, the next from h to i, the
next from b to k, the next, and last,
from I to m. There will be eight
settings of 110 yards each, instead of
seven of 220 yards each, which would
be necessary should the field be fed off
in the usual manner of strips across it.

In place of these hurdles, netting of cocoa-nut fiber or hempen
cord is often used. This is supported by stakes driven into the
ground and hooks, (see fig. 6). Netting of this kind is made in

f . 3 e






6 i


7 TO

* 8



England in lengths of 100 yards, and widths of 4 feet, at about $9
the 100 yards. At this price it could be imported with profit, and
probably cheaper than it could be manufactured here. Another
form of hurdles not quite so portable, but more easily moved and
set is illustrated at fig. 7. They are 12 feet long, and are made of
a stout pole bored with two series of holes 12 inches apart. Stakes
six feet long are put into these, holes, so that they project from
them three feet on each side of the pole. One series of holes is
bored in a direction
at right angles to
that of the other,
and when the
stakes are all pro-
perly placed, they
form a hurdle the
end of which looks
like the letter X.
The engraving
shows how these
hurdles are made
and the method of
using them. A row
is placed across
the field. A strip
of ten feet wide is
set off upon which
the sheep feed.
They eat up all the
herbage upon this
strip and that which they can reach by putting their heads through
the hurdles. The hurdles are then turned over, exposing another
strip of forage. When this is fed off the hurdles are again turned
over, and so on. The chevaux-de-frise presented by the hurdles
prevents any trespassing upon the other side of them, and by using
two rows the sheep are kept in the narrow strip between them.
Their droppings are therefore very evenly spread over the field,
and it is very richly fertilized by them. At night the sheep
are taken off, and when the field has been fed over, they are
brought back again to the starting point and commence once more
to eat their way along. When the crop is cut and fed to the sheep,
a somewhat different arrangement is made. This may be made a
valuable means of improving land. A badly run-down field in-
fested with weeds, may be cleared of rubbish, fertilized, and






brought into grass or clover by judicious management in this way.
Portions of such a field may be set off with hurdles as before de-
scribed, a rough shed erected in which the sheep may be secured
at night, and in which an ample supply of bedding or diy earth, or
other absorbent is placed beneath them, and here the crop grown
upon another part of the farm, aided by purchased food, if such
be available, is fed in portable troughs
or racks. A very convenient rack is the
one shown in fig. 8. This is extremely
portable, and may be moved from one
part of the field to another with great
ease. Where sheep are permanently
kept, and fixed arrangements are made
for the flock, it is frequently found con-
venient to provide a permanent and safe
shed, in a central position, in which they
may be confined at night, and from which
they can be turned into different fields or
portions of the farm. A shed that has
been found very convenient in use is
shown at fig. 9. It is built at the center
of four fields, and has doors opening into
each of them, and is so arranged that it
may be entirely closed from all but the
one which may be in use at the time.

For the protection of the sheep at
night, small paddocks may be fenced in
around this shed, and safety from dogs
secured by the use of dog guards. These
consist of wires made to run above the
fence or at right angles with the top of
it, as shown at figures 10 and 11.

The separation of the flock into parts
consisting of ewes and lambs, weaned
lambs and weaklings, and rams and
wethers, is very necessary. Ewes and
nursing lambs should be provided with
the best and tenderest pastures; the weaned lambs and weak
sheep should have a place where they can be furnished with some
extra feed without interference from stronger neighbors, and
rams and wethers may do well enough on the coarser herbage.
A frequent change of pasture is very advantageous for the flock.
Sheep naturally love change, and after they have wandered over a


field will become restless, and try to escape. The best method of
keeping them contented and quiet, is to change their pasture as
soon as they are observed to wander about restlessly. They are


then losing flesh. To restrict sheep to one kind of food for a
period of more than thirty days, has been found to seriously im-
pair their health. " Fresh fields and pastures new " are therefore
necessary to their welfare, and their health cannot be maintained


Fig. 10. DOG GUARD.

. 11. DOG GUARD.

unless this peculiarity is recognized and accommodated. It is
better to divide fields into paddocks where small flocks are kept,


and where the pastures are extensive, to reduce the size and in-
crease the number of the fields. Where the pasture is an open,
unfenced tract, the flock should be driven some distance to a new
locality every month.

The attention of the shepherd during the summer season will be
constantly exercised in seeing that every portion of the flock re-
ceives a proper share of the pasture, that the pasture is not over-
stocked ; that proper shelter is provided from midday heats ; that
failure in pasture is immediately remedied by a supply of fresh
green fodder or extra food, such as wheat-bran, oil-cake-meal, or
corn-meal ; that pure water is supplied at least twice a day; that
a certain portion of salt, or a mixture of salt and sulphur is pro-
vided and given regularly ; that on the first symptom of indispo-
sition, affected sheep are removed from the flock to some place
where they may receive proper care and medicine; that the
attacks of flies are warded off by proper preventives ; that para-
sitic enemies are destroyed, and hi short hi caring in every possi-
ble way for the welfare of his charge, watching closely for the
most minute evidence of the first symptom of trouble that may
occur, always remembering that "an ounce of prevention is
worth a pound of cure." To this end he should study closely the
habits of his sheep in health, make himself thoroughly acquainted
with the symptoms of disease and the habits and methods of at-
tacks of those living enemies which trouble the flock, and be pre-
pared by adequate and exact knowledge of the proper preventives
and remedies, to apply them instantly, correctly, and effectively.


In the management of sheep, how to procure the most profit
from the flock is the greatest consideration. It is not exactly how
to increase the flock most rapidly, nor to produce the heaviest
carcasses or fleeces, but to produce such animals as will return the
most money for the expenditure and labor involved. In some lo-
calities the sale of an early lamb will bring in more money than
that of the mother with its fleece. Where there is a market
for lambs, it is evidently the most profitable to keep such sheep,



and to keep them in such a way as will produce the highest priced
lambs. Where mutton is the most profitable, there a different
management must be adopted, and frequently a different breed of
sheep must be kept. Where wool only is the object, still another
different course will be chosen. Whichever end is to be gained,
the care of the breeding ewes and the lambs will be a subject of
much solicitude. But what would be a proper course in one case
would not be at all proper in another. A few general principles
are involved in the management of ewes and lambs, which will
first be explained, after which the special management proper to
be adopted for each special case will be considered.

The period of gestation of the ewe is 150 to 153 days. Five
months in round numbers may be taken as the period during
which the ewe carries a lamb. The coupling of the ewes and
rams should be so timed, that the lambs may be dropped at the
most desirable season. It will be found a great convenience to
mark the ranis and ewes, or such of them as may be selected to
breed stock animals from. Where a small flock only is kept, or
where special care
is given to the im-
provement of the
breed, every sheep
should be marked
by a number, that
the time of its coup-
ling may be noted,
and the date of the
expected birth of
the lamb be known. The best method of marking is by means of
metallic ear marks, (fig. 12), made by C. H. Dana, of West Lebanon,
N. H., inserted in the ear in different ways, to distinguish the sexes
easily. The method of keeping these records may be as fol-
lows : A book is provided which is ruled with six columns. At
the head of these columns are written the number of the ewe, that
of the ram, the date of service, the expected time of the lamb's ap-
pearance, the date when it is actually dropped, and any remarks
worthy of note. The following diagram exhibits this clearly :


No. of Ewe.]No. of Bam.
137 ~~4

When served,

To Lamb.

Lambed. \Remarks.

Sept. 26, '75 Feb.26, '76 Feb.28,'76] Twins.
Under the head of remarks should be written anything that may
be desirable to remember in regard to the character of the produce
of the animals coupled. A ewe that produces a fine, large, active


lamb, that is a good nurse, and that rears a profitable market
lamb, or that rears twins successfully, is a valuable animal to re-
tain in the flock so long as she remains productive. Such ewes
have been kept until 10 or 12, or even 16 years old, and to be able
to identify a ewe of this kind is very necessary when the greatest
profit is the object sought, and more especially in those cases when
the special business is to rear market lambs or increase the flock
rapidly. No more than 30 ewes should be apportioned to one
ram in any season, unless he be a full grown one and in vigorous
health, and it would be well to observe the rules laid down in a
succeeding chapter especially devoted to breeding, for the man-
agement of the ram at this season. If the ram is equal to the
work, 50 ewes may be given to him, but it is better to err on the
safe side in this matter, as overwork simply means barren ewes
and loss of lambs. At the breeding season the ram should be
smeared upon the brisket every day with a mixture of raw linseed
oil and red ocher, so that he will leave a mark upon each ewe that
may be served. As the ewes are served they are to be drafted
from the flock and placed in a field or yard by themselves. Two
rams should not be kept together in a small breeding flock, as
quarreling and fighting are certain to result and great damage
may occur. If two rams are necessary, each may be used on
alternate days. Wethers are a nuisance in a flock of ewes at this
season, disturbing them and keeping them and themselves from
feeding. A plan followed with advantage where the flock consists
of heavy bodied sheep, and where the necessary attention can be
given, is to keep the ram in a yard or paddock by himself, out of
sight of the ewes, and to allow a wether to run with them. As
each ewe comes in season, the wether singles her out and keeps
company with her. On the return of the flock from the pasture
at night, the ewe or ewes in season are turned in to the ram until
they are served, when they may be removed at once, or left with
him until the morning. In the morning, if any ewes have come
into heat during the night, they may be served before the flock is
turned into the pasture. This is continued until it is known that
'all the ewes are in lamb. By this method a ram may be made to
serve double the number of ewes that he would if allowed indis-
criminate access to them, and exhaust himself in useless and need-
less repeated exertions.

As soon as the ewes have been served, the time of each is entered
in the record as previously described. They are carefully pre-
served from all worry by dogs and needless driving or handling.
Peace and quietness at this season will tend to the production of


quiet and docile lambs. The shepherd should make himself very
familiar with them, and by giving salt or meal in the hand, or a
small dish, reduce them to a condition of perfect docility. Any
ewes that have either refused Ae ram or have failed to breed,
should be dosed with two ounces of epsom salts and be stinted in
their feed for a few days to reduce their condition. This will
generally be effective in bringing them into season. Good fair
condition is better than an excess of fat, but ewes in poor condi-
tion cannot be expected to produce other than poor, weak lambs ;
neither will an excessively fat ewe produce a strong lamb. Some
extra food will now be needed by the ewes, and should be given
at first in small quantities. Bran, crushed malt, and crushed oats
and corn mixed, are the best kinds of food. Oil-cake, either of
cotton-seed or linseed, unless used with great caution, is not always
a healthful food for ewes in lamb. Any food that actively affects
the bowels, either way, is to be avoided. Half a pint a day may be
given of the first mentioned foods, and a change from one to an-
other may be frequently made. So long as pasture is to be had,
this allowance will be sufficient. When the winter feeding com-
mences, the ration of grain should be gradually increased until, at
the period when lambing time approaches, a pint daily is given.
Cold watery food is highly dangerous at this time, and roots
should not be given in large quantities, nor at all unless pulped
and mixed with cut hay and the grain. Turnips or other roots
that have been highly manured with superphosphate of lime has
been said by several experienced English breeders to be pro-
ductive Of abortion. Water should be given in small and frequent
quantities. It is best to have running water or water from a well
always at hand for the ewes. If the ewes have not heretofore been
kept apart from the rest of the flock, they should now be sepa-
rated. The general treatment of the ewes up to this time should
be such as will keep them free from all excitement, and in good,
healthful condition. The record should now be consulted, and as
the ewes near their time they should be removed into a part of the
stables or sheep barn, where each one can have a small pen to
herself. These pens should be made so that light can be shut out
if desired. Here they are permitted to drop their lambs in perfect
quiet ; by this means few ewes will disown their lambs, and no
lambs will be lost by creeping into feed racks or out of the way
places. The pens should not be larger than 5x4 feet. As soon
as the lamb is dropped and the ewe has owned and licked it, and
the lamb has once sucked, all danger, except from gross careless-
ness, is passed. The ewe will be greatly helped by a drink of


slightly warm, thin oat-meal gruel well salted. The lamb will be

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Online LibraryHenry StewartThe shepherd's manual. A practical treatise on the sheep → online text (page 3 of 23)