Henry Stewart.

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

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the mixture is kept stirred to prevent the sulphur from subsiding.
The dip may be conveniently placed in a trough or a tub large
enough to allow of the immersion of the sheep or the lamb, which
is taken by the feet by two men and plunged into the bath at the
temperature mentioned, where it is held for a minute or two until
the wool is thoroughly saturated. The animal is then placed in a
pen with a raised floor sloping on each side, to a trough in the
middle, along which the superabundant liquor escapes into a pail
or tub placed to receive it. The method of dipping, (shown at


figures 16 and 17), is calculated for small flocks, or for a few hun-
dred lambs. For larger flocks, a larger tank is provided, 12 feet
long, three feet wide, and four feet deep. A fenced platform leads
from a pen hi which the sheep are gathered, up to the edge of the
dipping tank, and the sheep are taken one by one from the pen,
led up the platform, and pushed into the tank in which the dip
is sufficiently deep to cover them. As the sheep plunge into the
dip, they are seized, and kept beneath it, except the head, which
alone is sufiered to emerge above it. If hi their struggles a little
of the dip should enter their nostrils, no harm results, but the hot
tobacco water is, on the contrary, often beneficial to those sheep
which are affected by catarrh or grub in the head, and the violent
sneezings which follow may help to free them from these trouble-
some parasites which often inhabit the nasal sinuses. The sheep
are rapidly passed
from hand to hand
along the tank un-
til they reach the
end, where there is
a sloping plank
upon which they
can walk up to
another platform.
Here they are al-
lowed to remain
while the excess of
dip is squeezed
from their wool.
From this the
liquid drains into tubs, and is carried to the boiler to be re-
heated, and then returned to the tank for use again. The cost of
dipping a large flock, numbering several thousands, in this man-
ner twice in the season is five cents a head, and the improvement
in the quality of the wool, which results from the cleansing of the
skin from dust, grease, and the accumulated refuse of its secre-
tions, and its increase in quantity consequent upon the greater
comfort of the sheep and their escape from the persecution of
ticks and other parasites, is estimated at 20 cents per head, so that
the cost is repaid more than three-fold. The comforting knowl-
edge to the humane shepherd that his flock is freed from a most
annoying torment, is also something, which, although it does not
enter into a pecuniary calculation, and is not measured by dollars
and cents, yet is not on that account unworthy of consideration,



There is no greater satisfaction to the owner of a flock, who cares
for his sheep, and takes pleasure in their welfare, and in a measure
loves the gentle kindly animals, and is interested in managing them
so that they may enjoy all the comfort possible for them, than to
know that, so far as any efforts of his are concerned, nothing is
left undone that can add to their contentment, and that they are
spared every discomfort and pain that it is possible to prevent


The change from green, succulent food, to that of a dry and
concentrated character, is one that needs to be cautiously made.
As the summer departs and the fall rains occur, succeeded in their
turn by the more rigorous storms of whiter, conditions arise which
call for a complete change of management on the part of the shep-
herd who looks for profit from his flock. It may be a question
with some if quality of feed or shelter is the more important con-
sideration in the best management of sheep. Certainly abun-
dant experience has shown that with the most careful and
judicious feeding, sheep, which when well tended are in reality
hardier than are generally supposed, have passed safely and
thriftily through a winter's storms with no more shelter than
that afforded by an open shed; and that they have of their
own free will refused the shelter, and have chosen to rest upon
the bare snow, at times when the air has been dry and clear. But
no case has as yet ever occurred in the experience of any shepherd
in which sheep have thrived without ivell selected, proper, and
abundant food, and cases are always occurring in which sheep
are greatly injured by excessive carefulness in this matter of
shelter. To feed well and judiciously, may therefore be
regarded as the first duty and interest of the shepherd ; and to
shelter the flock only so far as to maintain it in healthful con-
dition, avoiding exposure to unusual rigors of heat or storm,
will be not exactly a second duty, but one that attaches to this
first interest as being intimately associated with it rather than
separated from it. Nevertheless, as before a flock can be fed, it ia



necessary to have a store of food and a feeding place, it may be
well to consider first the subjects of shelters or barns, feed racks,
and facilities for watering.

The first requisites for the comfort of sheep in their winter
lodging are a dry clean floor, a tight roof, and abundant ventila-
tion. The site of a sheep-house should therefore be well drained,
and of such a character that it can be kept clean and free from
filth. It should, if possible, be on high ground which slopes each
way from it, but at any rate it should slope to the south or south-
east. The house should be well roofed and provided with rain
troughs and spouts to carry the water away from the yard into
either a covered drain or a cistern. It should be open at the front,
protected only by a projecting roof, and the walls, if of boards,
need not be battened over the joints, as the air which will enter

Fig. 13. SHEEP BABN.

through these cracks will be no more than will be needed to keep
that within fresh and pure. Some more carefully protected shelter
must be provided for the use of yeaning ewes and young lambs,
in a part of the house or in another building, but until the appear-
ance of the lambs is looked for, this warmer shelter will not be
needed. The loft over the lower apartment will be used for stor-
ing hay or other fodder, and space for this purpose may be econ-
omized by having the upper floor only so far above the ground
floor as will allow the shepherd a comfortable passage beneath it.
A building which is well arranged and convenient is shown in
figures 18, 19, 20, and 21. The following description with the
illustrations are taken from the American Agriculturist. It con-
sists of a barn, shown at fig. 18, about 20 feet wide, 16 feet high



from basement to eaves, and as long as desirable. This is intended
to store the hay or fodder. The posts, sills, and plates are all 8
inches square, the girts and braces are 4 inches square, the beams
2x10, are placed 16 inches apart, and are cross-bridged with
strips, 3 inches wide. The hay is piled inside, so that the feed
passage below, over
which there are trap-
doors, is left uncov-
ered. The hay is
thrown down through
these doors, and falls
upon a sloping shelf,
which carries it into
the feed racks below,
(see fig. 19). The
basement under the
barn is 8 feet high,
and is of stone on
three sides ; the front
is supported by posts
8 inches square, and 8
feet apart. Between
each pair of posts a
door is hung upon
pins, (fig. 20), which
fit into grooves in the
posts, so that the door
may be raised and Fig. ^.-SECTION OF BUILDING.

fastened, in such a manner, as to close the upper half of the space
between the posts ; or be .held suspended half way, leaving the
whole open; or be shut clown and close the lower half; or be
removed altogether. By this contrivance at least half the front
of the basement must be left open,
whether the sheep be shut in or out.
The floor of the basement should be
slightly sloping from rear to front, so
that it will always be dry. Fig. 21 shows
the plan of the basement. The feed-


passage is shown at c ; the stairway to the root-cellar at b, and the
root-cellar at a. Fig. 19 gives a section of the whole barn. The
hay-loft is above, and the passage-way and the doors, by which the
hay is thrown down to the feed-racks below ; as well as the sloping
shelf by which the hay is carried into the feed-racks are shown.


Below the feed-rack is the feed-trough for roots or meal. A door
shuts off this trough from the sheep at the front, while the feed is
being prepared, and when it is ready, the door is raised, and held
up to the feed-rack by a strap or a hook. The feed-rack is closely


boarded behind, and this back part, which is in the feed-passage,
slopes forward to the front, so as to carry the hay forward to the
bottom. The front of the rack is of upright slats, smoothly
dressed, two inches wide, and placed three inches apart. The
boards of the feed-trough are smoothly dressed and sand-papered,
and all the edges are rounded, so that there is nothing by which
the wool may be torn or rubbed off from the sheep's necks. It
will be seen by this arrangement, that there is no dangerous thing


by which a sheep or a lamb might be hurt, nor a place where it
can get into mischief. The root-cellar is at the rear of the base-
ment, and is reached by the stairs already mentioned. The cost
of the barn here described, if built of pine or hemlock lumber, in





a plain manner, and of sufficient size to accommodate 100 sheep,
would be from $300 to $500.

Another sheep-house suitable for small farms, that is designed
for small flocks, is shown at figure 22. It is altogether open
in the front on
the ground floor,
and is intended
to face to the
south. This is a
very cheap and
convenient shed
for a small flock ;
it has an enclosed
yard attached to
it. A shelter in-
tended for a large
flock is shown at

figure 23. This

building was

erected by Mr.

George Grant, of

Victoria, Kansas,

for his flock of

7,000 sheep. The

walls are of stone,

and the roof of

boards. The main

structure is 570

feet in length,

and the three

wings are each of

equal length. The

width of each of

the sheds is 24

feet, and thehight

of the walls 10

feet. At one cor-
ner of the " cor-


ral," which is the name given on the western plains to such sheds
as this and other enclosures, is the shepherd's house, in which he
resides, and is at all times near his flock, and able to render imme-
diate attention. A shed of this character is rather costly in its
construction, and a small capitalist would find it beyond the limit



of his resources. One of a cheaper construction and less perma-
nent character, but nevertheless of equal value for shelter so long
as it lasts, is shown in figure 24. This shed was built by Mr.
Shaw, of Syracuse, Kansas, and was found to answer every pur-
pose. It is made of posts set in the ground, which support a single
sloping roof that is thatched with coarse hay from the river bot-
toms adjacent to his location. The enclosure contains a windmill,
watering trough, stack-yard, and feed-racks, and is intended to
accommodate a flock of 200 to 300 sheep- The length of the en-
closure is 200 feet,
and the width 100
feet, making in all
600 feet of shed.
Figure 25 represents
the sheep-fold of
Mr. Henry Nason,
of Orange C. H.,
Virginia, in which
his flock of 300 ewes
sheltered from





the weather as well
as from dogs and
thieves by night.
This flock is kept
mainly for the pro-
duction of early
lambs for market.
Especial attention
ia given to the com-
fort and care of Fig. 25,-PLAN OF MB. NASON'S SHED.

the ewes and the lambs, and warm separate pens are provided for
them when they require them. The yard, , is 100 feet square,
divided by a hurdle fence, shown by the dotted lines, into as many
portions as may be desired. The entrance is at , where there is a
gate hung upon a post, c, in such a way as to open or close each
lalf of the yard. The yard is enclosed on three sides by a
shed 10 feet high, with a roof sloping both ways. The ground
loor, 7 feet high, is appropriated for sheep pens, and the three
feet above for a hay loft. The shed is 12 feet wide, and has a
row of separate pens 6 feet wide, upon the north side. On the
other sides there are narrow doors for the sheep, seen at <?, c?, and
sliding shutters, e, e, 8 feet long, and 3 feet high, which are also
used for entrances to the shed. The yard is closed at the front by


a fence 10 feet high. There are no outside windows, and only two
doors, and but one of these, that at /, is locked from the out-
side, so that the turning of one key secures the whole enclos-
ure from trespassers. There is a second yard, 150 by 135 feet,
upon the south side of the sheep yard, with an open shed facing
the south, and divided into pens 9 feet deep, for cows or sheep,
and a pig pen 35 feet square, at the south-east of the sheep yards.
These sheds are made of inch boards, nailed up and down upon
the frame work, and the roof is of boards, with a sufficient pitch to
shed rain perfectly.

In estimating the size of the sheds required for any given num-
ber of sheep it will be safe to allow 10 square feet of floor to each
sheep, when a yard adjoining the shed is provided, and there is
abundant ventilation in the shed ; and 12 square feet when there
is no yard, but only the most ample ventilation by means of boards
at the eaves, to be let down, and trap-doors in the roof to be
opened. Space may be economized if thought desirable, and the
expense of the sheds reduced, by having a second floor for the
sheep which is reached by means of a sloping passage-way of
planks upon which cleats are nailed crosswise to afford a foothold.
Sheep will readily ascend a gang-way of this kind, and will choose
the upper in preference to the ground floor. The upper floor
in this case must be made perfectly close and tight, of matched
boards tarred at the joints, and ample dry bedding should be pro-
vided to absorb all the moisture. This floor should not be
less than seven feet above the ground floor ; this will secure suf-
ficient ventilation if the lower, doors are double, and the upper
halves are kept open, and there are a sufficient number of open
windows or ventilating boards or spaces. A shed 20 by 50 feet
will comfortably contain 100 moderate-sized sheep ; 75 large Cots-
wold or Leicester sheep have been accommodated in a lean-to shed
of this size, with ventilating boards and traps in the roof. In
this shed there was a ventilating board arranged near the bottom
by partly opening which, a plenty of fresh air could be admitted.
On the whole, the sheds with a half open front, that may be closed
wholly or partly, with a yard adjoining, will be found preferable
to those which are made to be entirely closed.

A convenient barn which furnishes space for shearing, room for
the storage of wool, pens for lambs and ewes, and lofts for fodder
and straw, with ample open sheds and a roomy yard, is shown at
figure 26. It can be made larger or smaller, to suit the needs of a
large or small flock. The main building, of which this is a repre-
sentation, is raised four feet from the ground upon posts, and the


space thus gained furnishes additional shelter. This barn has the
advantage of being suitable for a cattle barn in case sheep-keeping
is abandoned for a
time, and is well
adapted to either west-
ern or eastern sheep
or stock farming.
As perfect cleanliness
and pure air are ne-
cessary to the health-
fulness of the flock,
the matter of litter in
the sheds and yards,
as well as the drain-
age of the roof and
floor, are to be well
provided for. Eaves-
troughs, gutters and
waste-pipes should be
provided and made
to discharge into a
drain, which will car-
ry the rain water be-
neath the ground,
away from the yard.
The litter should be
dry, plentiful, and of
a kind that is absorb-
ent. If plentifully
given, and if the right
kind, it may be allow-
ed to accumulate for
the whole whiter
without removal, and
in so doing there will
be less odor in the
shed than if it were
cleaned out weekly.
The litter and the
droppings are trod-
den down very compactly, and the mass being thus kept from
the access of air, only a very slow decomposition occurs which
gives off no more smell or vapor than can be absorbed by the fresh


litter daily thrown down in the shed. Hardwood sawdust, dry
seasoned peat or swamp muck, forest leaves, dried spent tan-
bark, long or cut straw, chaff, or even sand, make very good litter
and absorbents. If a supply of these materials can be procured,
sufficient for daily use in a crowded pen or yard, the straw, which
would otherwise be needed for this purpose, may with great
economy be reserved for fodder. If straw or corn-fodder cut into
small pieces, is fed in the racks once a day, there will be a certain
portion pulled out on to the floor which will add to the litter. If
straw is used for litter, it should be cut into chaff, which will
much facilitate the removal of the manure in the spring. This is
especially convenient if pea straw is used, for when a quantity of
pea straw and manure is trodden together, they form such a
tangled mass that it is a most tiresome labor to fork it up and re-
move it. Corn-stalks should not be thrown under foot for the
same reason. If it is thought proper to remove the litter and
dung periodically, every week for instance, then the floor should
afterwards receive a heavy coating of dry litter. In case the ma-
nure is removed, it should not on any account be heaped in the
yard. It will undergo an active fermentation and become hot,
giving forth clouds of vapor in damp weather, and at all times
pungent gases. Some of the sheep will choose the manure heap
to lie upon at nights, and every one that is suffered to do this will
inevitably sicken, and become affected with catarrh or pneumonia,
or lose its wool in patches. Either the litter should not be cleaned
out at all, or it should be removed to a distance from the yards.
It is easy to manage matters either way, so that the air of the shed
will be pure and free from offensive smell, if proper attention is
given, and the shepherd is watchful and careful of the condition
of the floors of the shed.

The feed-racks should be so made that the sheep can procure
their feed without tearing the wool from their necks or filling
their fleeces with dust, chaff, or hay-seed. The floor of the loft
should be made close and tight, using either matched boards or
double boards laid so as to break joints, and prevent the dropping
of dust from above. A rack for hay or straw should be made in
the manner shown at figure 27; it should be 3i feet high at the
front. The bars are only three inches apart. They should be
made of ash, chestnut, or oak strips, dressed and smoothly sand-
papered, and an inch thick by one and a quarter wide. The front
of the rack should slope backwards at the top 3 or 4 inches. This
prevents hay or clover dust from falling out upon the sheeps'
heads. At the rear of the rack sloping boards are fitted, so that



as part of the hay is eaten, the rest falls down to the front where
the sheep can reach it. The end of the rack should be closed with
bars in the same way as the front, so that young lambs cannot
creep in and get lost. For want of this precaution a fine lively
young lamb will sometimes get into a tight place, where it may
become chilled and die. This rack may be made of any length,
and should ex-
tend all round the
shed in order to
give the greatest
possible extent
of feeding room.
The form of this
rack prevents the
sheep from
thrusting their
heads between
the bars and
wearing the wool
from their necks,
or from stran-
gling themselves
by getting their
heads fast be-
tween the bars, which they will do with many of the racks in
common use, of -which the bars are frequently too far apart.

For feeding cut or pulped roots, or fine feed, such as bran-meal
or grain, a rack made on the plan of that shown at figure 8 on
page 31, will be useful. The rack there figured is a portable one
intended for use in the field or yard, but a fixed rack similar to it
may be made in the shed if desired. The bars placed over the
rack prevent the stronger sheep from crowding the weaker ones
from their feed, and getting more than their share, and also pre-
vent the more active ones from leaping into the trough in their
eagerness to procure an undue portion of food.

The variety of foods suitable for the winter feeding is extensive.
Hay, straw, pea and bean haulm, corn-fodder, roots of various
kinds, corn, oats, peas, rye, buckwheat, cotton-seed and linseed
oil-cake-meal, and bran, furnish a variety of food from which a
proper choice can readily be made. The relative feeding values
of these various substances used as food, will determine their rela-
tive money values, and as these differ and fluctuate from time to
time, it is often necessary, to secure the most profit on the feeding,

Fig. 27. FEED-BACK.



to choose the food that is most economical in use, although it may
be the highest in price. Clover hay is the most valuable single food
for winter use, if it has been cut when in blossom, cured so as to
preserve all its good qualities, and kept free from damp and mold.
Where the main object hi view is the production of market lambs,
clover hay should furnish the chief subsistence of the ewes. It
will also be found preferable as the staple and cheapest fodder
when sheep are purchased for feeding for market, and the most
rapid growth of flesh is desirable. Well cured pea straw will be
chosen by sheep next to clover hay and before timothy or any
other hay. Oat straw is readily eaten by sheep, and is a healthful
food, especially if harvested before the oats were dead ripe. Bar-
ley, wheat, and rye straw will help to keep life in a flock, but are
not sufficiently nutritive to contribute much to the growth of flesh
or wool, and should be used only as adjuncts to roots and grain,
or oil-cake-meal. Rye straw is apt to be sprinkled with dust of
ergot, a fungus which is frequently found growing on the heads of
rye, and which has a highly injurious effect upon pregnant ewes,
producing abortion or premature births of the lambs. Rye straw
is also frequently the cause of great inflammation of the stomachs
and intestines of sheep, from the penetration of the mucous coats
by the sharp awns or beards of the heads. Cases have occurred
in which the stomachs of sheep fed on rye or bearded wheat straw,
have been found after death thickly studded with the beards,
which caused inflammation of the coats of the stomachs and con-
sequent death. Such straw should be avoided as food, and used
only for litter. The haulm of beans when well cured and saved,
is both palatable and nutritious, and the leaves of corn-stalks fur-
nish a food which is useful as a change of fodder, but is not nutri-
tious enough of itself to support sheep in good condition. The
relative values of the various dry fodders above mentioned may be
estimated from the following tables, hi which their composition
and the proportion of actual nutritive matter contained are given.







& Gum.


Meadow Hay

14 3

6 2

79 5




Red Clover Hay

16 7

6 2

77 1

13 4



Pea Straw

14 3


81 7

6 5

35 2


Bean Straw

17 3


77 7

10 2

33 5


Wheat Straw

Rye Straw . .

14 2

3 2

82 5

1 5



Barley Straw

14 3


78 7


32 7


Oat Straw

14 3


HO 7

2 5

38 2


Corn Fodder...








The composition of clover hay here given is of that cut when in
blossom. If cut when ripe, this hay has 4 per cent less of flesh-
forming material, 9 per cent less of fat, starch, sugar, and gum, or

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Online LibraryHenry StewartThe shepherd's manual. A practical treatise on the sheep → online text (page 5 of 23)