IT has been matter of ſurpriſe to me, that none of our countrymen have hitherto attempted to write a Treatiſe expreſsly upon what farmers call Stock; by which I mean thoſe domeſtic animals with which our fields, our yards, and ſtables, are, or ought to be ſtored, ſuch as horſes, cattle, ſheep, and ſwine; the knowledge of which, I apprehend, is at this period of improvement, as neceſſary for the farmer, as the well cultivating of a field for wheat, barley, turnips, or any other crop. For, according [Page 2] to the preſent improved ſyſtem of farming, there is ſuch a connection between the cultivation of the ground, and the breeding, rearing, and fattening of cattle, ſheep, and other domeſtic animals, that a man will make but an indifferent figure in rural affairs, if he does not underſtand the latter as well as the former.—Our ſhelves are loaded with volumes that have been written on the ſubject of rearing crops, while but little has been ſaid upon thoſe very uſeful animals referred to above. Conſcious of my own inability to undertake ſo important, tho' neceſſary a taſk, I repeatedly ſolicited ſome of my acquaintance, who I believed to be well able to perform it; and in particular one whom it is not neceſſary here to name, for whoſe abilities I have the higheſt reſpect, whoſe whole life has been employed in breeding and improving [Page 3] ſtock, and who has carried it to very great perfection, from the experience and cloſe application of his whole life, ſpent in the purſuit of breeding uſeful ſtock: But being unable to prevail upon him to write on this ſubject, I ſhall venture to offer my own thoughts in the beſt manner I am able, from the hopes that this may induce ſome abler perſon to write upon this hitherto almoſt unbeaten track, for the good of mankind, and particularly for the benefit of my brother breeders.
IT may be neceſſary to obſerve, that tho' a late writer* has given us very learned deſcriptions of the bull, horſe, and ram, &c. yet it does not appear he has treated of theſe matters near ſo fully as the nature and importance of the ſubject requires. His language is not altogether ſo plain, nor [Page 4] adapted to the education of many of our farmers, as it ought to be: He is far too conciſe in regard to the different breeds of ſheep belonging to this iſland, and has ſaid nothing at all relative to the various breeds of cattle; and beſides, tho' his deſcriptions have much merit, yet I ſhall venture to differ from him in ſome particulars concerning the ſhape of cattle and ſheep, which will be pointed out in their proper places.—As I do not profeſs any great ſhare of knowledge in regard to horſes, I ſhall conſequently ſay leſs concerning them than the other kinds of ſtock, with which I have been more converſant, and to which I have paid more attention, particularly ſheep. However, as horſes are univerſally allowed to be amongſt the moſt uſeful animals of the creation, we ſhall give them the firſt place in our narration.
[Page 5] IN regard to the horſe, then, I preſume his head ſhould be as ſmall as the proportion of the animal will admit; his noſtrils expanded, and muzzle fine; his eyes chearful and prominent; his ears ſmall, upright, and placed near together; his neck riſing out of his back and ſhoulders with an eaſy tapering curve, muſt join gracefully to the head; his ſhoulders being well thrown back, muſt alſo go into his neck (at what is called the points) unperceived, which perhaps facilitates the going much more than the narrow ſhoulder, which moſt people are admirers of; for, whoever has obſerved a greyhound or a hare, will perceive how very wide they are made at the upper part of the ſhoulders, and there are few animals that move with ſo much eaſe and ſwiftneſs as they do: The arm, or fore thigh, ſhould be muſcular, and tapering from the ſhoulder, [Page 6] meet with a fine ſtraight ſinewy boney leg; the hoof circular, and wide at the heel; his cheſt deep, and full at the girth; his loin or fillets broad and ſtraight, and ribs round; his hips or hooks, by no means wide, but quarters long, and tail ſet high on; his thighs ſtrong and muſcular, his legs clean, and fine-boned; the leg-bones not round, but what is called lathy.
It is generally thought that we only have two original breeds of horſes in this iſland, viz. the race or blood kind, and the black cart-breed: the reſt have been ſuppoſed to be only variations from theſe two, introduced by repeated croſſings; and yet we are ſtruck with ſurpriſe, when we conſider the difference between the gigantic dray-horſe, 18 hands high, ſtalking upon the London pavements, and the ſmall Highland, or Shetland poney, tripping over the moſſes with a heavy load, [Page 7] tho' not more than nine hands, or 36 inches high when at his full growth. I ſhall decline ſaying any-thing of the blood-horſes; 1ſt, becauſe I know very little concerning them; and, 2dly, becauſe I think farmers ought to have little or nothing to do with them, except now and then putting a good mare to a ſtrong well-proportioned blood-horſe, by way of mixing a little blood amongſt our chapmen or riding horſes. Perhaps for ſome particular uſes, even a plough-horſe may not be the worſe for having a little blood in him, as it is termed; and every man, I apprehend, who has rode five hundred miles upon horſeback, will admit, that a horſe which has a little blood in him, will uſually perform a pleaſanter day's work, than one that has little or none of the racing breed in him: For, notwithſtanding objections have been made by late writers to the croſſing of [Page 8] breeds of animals, I cannot help being of a different opinion; becauſe, from many years experience, I have much reaſon to believe, that great improvements have been, and may be made by croſſing*, not only amongſt the different kinds of horſes, but neat cattle (horned or black cattle as they have been differently called) and ſheep; and I apprehend it is from theſe croſſes, [Page 9] properly made, that this iſland has been long famous for ſuch a noted and excellent breed of ſaddle-horſes, in ſo much that great numbers are almoſt every year bought up for France, and other parts of the Continent. If croſſing was not of uſe, even amongſt the blood-race, why ſhould Gentlemen of the Turf be at the trouble, and very great expence, in procuring ſtallions from Arabia, and different parts of Turkey, &c. Nay, the well-atteſted pedigrees of moſt of our racehorſes, [Page 10] I perceive, generally terminate with a Burton Barb, or Place's White Turk, &c. which is a proof that theſe croſſes have been attended with ſucceſs.
The breed of ſaddle-horſes is confined in a great meaſure to Yorkſhire, Durham, and Northumberland: the Eaſt Riding of Yorkſhire has been long eminent in that line. The annual fairs held at Northallerton, Howden, and York, exhibit the largeſt ſhows of theſe uſeful creatures: perhaps it may be owing to this that Yorkſhiremen are all called Jockeys, or knowing hands in regard to horſes; and indeed you will ſcarce meet with a farmer in that county, eſpecially in the low part of it, who is not well ſkilled in horſes. Since bay and other lightgoing horſes, have been preferred to the black breed for carriages, the Yorkſhire breeders have gone ſo much [Page 11] upon theſe, that I am informed the old breed of riding or ſaddle-horſes are much wore out. This is owing, perhaps, not only to the greater demand for the latter, but alſo to the coach-horſes being a ſtronger and larger breed; as alſo, if they happen, from blemiſhes, not to anſwer for the harneſs, they ſuit for the plough or cart; while the ſaddle-horſe, from the ſame misfortunes, is rendered in a great meaſure uſeleſs.
The midland counties, particularly Leiceſterſhire, Warwickſhire, Staffordſhire, and Derbyſhire, breed almoſt altogether of the black kind. It is the univerſal cuſtom in thoſe counties, for the farmers to uſe mares only for labour: theſe are all put to the horſe, the male produce of which ſupply the Army, London, and moſt of the ſouth and weſtern counties with horſes for their farming-teams. [Page 12] The largeſt go to the capital, for drayhorſes; the next ſupply the farmers in the ſouthern counties, for their waggons, ploughs, &c. and the reſt mount our cavalry, or are trained to the carriages, while a few of the choiceſt are very properly preſerved for ſtallions.
The vanity of many of the farmers in the South, in regard to their teams, is moſt extraordinary. I have, in Berkſhire, and that neighbourhood, ſeveral times met a narrow-wheel'd waggon, with ſix ſtone-horſes, one before another; the firſt horſe, beſides having on a huge bridle, covered with fringe and taſſels enough to half-load a common Yorkſhire cart-horſe, has ſix bells hung to it, the next five, and ſo on to the laſt, which has only one; and it is really diverting to ſee with what a conceited air the driver ſtruts and brandiſhes his long whip.—A ſtrange contraſt this [Page 13] with the poor Highlander carting home his peats for winter-fuel, when frequently both horſe and cart are not of the ſame value as the harneſs uſed to a Berkſhire waggon-horſe. The Reader will be the leſs ſurpriſed, when I aſſure him, that I have in Scotland many times ſeen a horſe and cart conveying peats or turfs, when the whole apparatus neither contained iron, leather, or hemp; the collar or bracham was made of ſtraw, the backband of platted ruſhes, and the wheels of wood only, without buſh of metal, or binding of iron.
One of the Earls of Huntington returning from an embaſſy to the States-General, brought home with him a ſet of coach-horſes of the black breed from the Continent. Moſt of theſe being ſtallions, he with ſome difficulty prevailed upon his tenants by the Trent-Side, to put their mares to [Page 14] them; which croſs anſwered ſo well, that the breed in that neighbourhood has been in the greateſt repute ever ſince. This many years afterwards induced Mr Bakewell, and another Leiceſterſhire breeder, to croſs the German Ocean in ſearch of horſes and mares, to improve the Engliſh breed; and after much labour and expence, they returned with half-a-dozen Dutch or Flanders mares. And I have often heard Mr Bakewell ſay, that he never met with a man but he could have prevailed upon him to part with his ſtock for money, except in Holland, where he met with a Dutch boor, who would not ſell one of his mares for any price which Mr Bakewell thought worth his while to give; and any-body who knows the above great breeder, will be ſenſible that he would not limit for price, who gave above ſeventy guineas, when beginning [Page 15] buſineſs, for a cart-mare to breed from. Notwithſtanding theſe Dutch mares were of uſe in improving the Leiceſterſhire black breed, yet it perhaps ſcarce anſwered the end propoſed; becauſe, by this time, the heavy unwieldy black horſes were growing into diſrepute; the Nobility and Gentry were begun to run bay-horſes in their carriages; light horſes were more uſed in the Army than heretofore; but, above all, the ſpirited induſtry and activity in farming, required horſes of more mettle than thoſe already mentioned; but they yet are, and probably will ever be, valuable for drays and waggons.—But, how would the Norfolk farmers ſow two, three, or four hundred acres of turnips upon one farm, in proper time, in the ſame ſeaſon,— and plow two, or near three acres per day with one pair of horſes, if they had them not from a hardier [Page 16] and nimbler breed than thoſe alluded to? It is long ſince I was told by the Cleveland farmers, that the black horſes could not ſtand to their work, and could not go at the rate of their own country horſes; that whenever they were put paſt their pace, they greaſed, and frequently went blind: Yet it is in this induſtrious part of Yorkſhire, and in Norfolk, Suffolk, &c. that we muſt look for farming-horſes able to go through fatigue and hardſhip, able to walk at a pace that the others cannot, and able to work ſix days in every week in the year. It is a well-known fact, that theſe will, upon an average, wear as long again as the rough-legged gummy black breed.
But let us not forget to do juſtice to a Northern diſtrict in this iſland, that produces as good a farming-horſe as any of theſe alluded to—I mean [Page 17] the Weſt of Scotland: They are in general greys or browns; but from whence they had the breed, I know not: and tho' I muſt allow that they are plain-made in general, about the head, ſides, and hind-legs, yet it is a fact founded upon experience, that we have not a hardier race in the iſland.
The beſt and hardieſt horſes for the draught I ever remember ſeeing, proceeded from a croſs between the country mares by the Tee's ſide, and a ſtallion brought from Holſtein: they are not tall horſes, riſing only from about fourteen hands three inches, to fifteen hands three inches, exceedingly ſtrong made, with ſhort clean-boned legs, very firm carcaſes, and equal to any fatigue.
The Welch have a very hardy breed of horſes, but rather ſmall for the team; but where they are good goers, few or none can equal them for the [Page 18] road; none ſtand our turnpikes like them: and I well remember one that I rode for many years, and to the laſt he would have gone upon a pavement by choice, in preference to ſofter road.
The Scotch horſes, like the Welch, are exceedingly hardy, but too ſmall for the draught, except the Clydeſdale horſes, &c. taken notice of before. Thoſe properly called galloways, are now rare to be met with, from an inexcuſable inattention to the breed, which is nearly loſt. The breed originated, as we may ſuppoſe, from the name Galloway, and it is generally ſaid was owing to croſſing with the Spaniſh horſes, when a part of the invincible armada was ſhipwrecked upon thoſe rocky coaſts. There is much probability in the account; but whether true or not, is not ſo material as the loſs of ſo valuable a breed of little horſes is to be lamented.
THE head of the BULL ſhould be rather long; his muzzle fine, and noſtrils wide; his eyes lively and prominent; his ears long and thin; his horns white; his neck ſtrong and riſing rather from the ſhoulders, but ſmall and fine where it joins the head; his ſhoulders broad at the top, yet to ſit full to his crops and cheſt backwards, and to his neck vein-putt or mouſe-piece forwards; his boſom open, breaſt deep, broad, and well ſeen before his legs; his arms or forethighs full, and tapering to his knee; his legs ſtraight, clean, and very fine boned, with good large hoofs; his crops and cheſt ſo full as to leave no hollow behind the ſhoulders, and ſo ſtrong in the plates as to keep his [Page 20] belly from ſinking below the level of his breaſt; his back or loin broad, ſtraight, and flat; ribs well up (as the graziers term it), viz. one riſing above another, in ſuch a manner as the laſt rib ſhould be rather the higheſt, which ſhould leave only a ſmall ſpace to the hips or hooks; theſe ſhould be wide placed, round, and full in ſhape; the quarters long, tail high, rumps cloſe; and the quarters, inſtead of being ſquare, as recommended by ſome writers on huſbandry, ſhould taper gradually from the hips backward; the turls or pottbones quite ſunk, and in every reſpect different from the round, lyery, or Dutch form, ſo undeſervedly eſteemed formerly. The form here deſcribed will, when fed, be covered with fat to the hock or hough; the bones of his hind-legs ſame as thoſe before, viz. clean, ſmall, and ſtraight; tail broad, and well-haired.
[Page 21] THOUGH I ſaid that probably we only had two original breeds of horſes in this iſland, yet I apprehend we have ſeveral different breeds of cattle, viz. the long-horned, or Lancaſhire kind; the ſhort-horned, or Dutch kind; the polled, humbled, or Galloway breed; the Kiloes, or Scotch cattle; the Alderney, or French breed; and the wild breed which are ſtill preſerved by ſome of our Nobility in their parks, and perhaps ſome others I may not be acquainted with.
The Welch breed of cattle I take to be much the ſame as the Scotch; and as to the Herefordſhire brown cattle, they are, I am pretty clear, neither more nor leſs than a mixture between the Welch and a baſtard race of long-horns, that are every-where to be met with in Cheſhire, Shropſhire, &c.†
[Page 22] We ſhall treat of all the different breeds ſeparately; then endeavour to point out the perfections and imperfections of each kind, compare them with each other, and then offer our opinion in regard to which are beſt, and moſt ſuitable to different ſituations.
FIRST, then, in regard to the Long-horned, or Lancaſhire kind.—This kind is diſtinguiſhed from the others by the length of their horns, thickneſs of their hides, long thick hair all over them, and having moſtly a white ſtreak along their back, and a white ſtreak on the middle of the hock or [Page 23] hough. The oxen are called in many places, Lancaſhire Hornpipes, I ſuppoſe from the remarkable length of their horns†. Many people will have it, that they are the native or original breed of the iſland. It is not eaſy to aſcertain this matter; but if I may venture a conjecture, I think it is highly probable that theſe have been [Page 22] [...] [Page 23] [...] [Page 24] the inhabitants of the open plain country; while the wild breed, or perhaps the Welch, (which I take to be nearly the ſame as the Scotch), poſſeſſed the mountainous hilly wild parts of this iſland. However, Lancaſhire at preſent, and for a long time paſt, has as much right to be called the mother-country for long-horned cattle, as Lincolnſhire has to the large long-wool'd ſheep; for, though all or moſt of our cheeſe-dairies in Cheſhire, Glouceſterſhire, &c. employ a kind of long-horned cows, and indeed the greateſt part of the midland counties, yet they are only a ſhabby mixed breed, much inferior in ſize and figure to the Lancaſhire breed, from whence it is very probable they all originated. Leiceſterſhire, Warwickſhire, &c. have got a better and more profitable ſort of long-horns than Lancaſhire at preſent, by buying up their [Page 25] beſt bulls and heifers for many years paſt, before the people of Lancaſhire were well aware of it. Indeed the ſormer paid more attention to that kind, which were of a true mould or form, conſequently quicker feeders; while the latter contented themſelves with the old-faſhioned, large, big-boned kind, which are not only ſlower ſeeders, but, when fed, are not ſuch good eating beef. In ſhort, the little farmers in Lancaſhire, tempted with the high prices given them for their beſt ſtock, had loſt their valuable breed before they were quite ſenſible of it.
As I may often have occaſion, in this Treatiſe, to mention Mr Bakewell, from the ſuperior manner in which he has diſtinguiſhed himſelf in the breeding of cattle and ſheep, I would beg leave, by a ſhort digreſſion, to point out ſome of the principal [Page 26] advantages this Gentleman's breed of ftock has over thoſe that were in greateſt repute before his day: For he abſolutely ſtruck out new lights, and not only adopted a breed of cattle and ſheep, different from, and ſuperior in many eſſential reſpects to moſt others, but eſtabliſhed them in ſuch a manner as to gain ground in every corner of Great Britain and Ireland, in conſequence of their ſuperior merit.
The kind of cattle that were moſt eſteemed before Mr Bakewell's day, were the large, long-bodied, big-boned, coarſe, gummy, flat-ſided kind, and often lyery or black-fleſhed. On the contrary, this diſcerning breeder introduced a ſmall, clean-boned, round, ſhort-carcaſed, kindly-looking cattle, and inclined to be fat; and it is a fact, that theſe will both eat leſs food in proportion, and make themſelves ſooner fat, than the others: they will [Page 27] in truth pay more for their meat in a given time, than any other ſort we know of in the grazing way. His ſheep are ſtill more excellent than his cattle; but as we ſhall have occaſion to ſpeak of theſe afterwards, I will only add, that perhaps this Gentleman was the principal cauſe of the Lancaſhire people loſing their beſt breed; but then he alſo was the means of eſtabliſhing a much more advantageous one in Leiceſterſhire.
There are ſeveral more eminent breeders in that ſpirited part of the iſland, where they have carried the breeding of uſeful ſtock to a pitch unknown in former days, and what other parts of the iſland have ſtill only a very faint idea of. Mr Bakewell well deſerves the thanks of his country, for promoting the breeds of uſeful domeſtic animals:—This Gentleman, by his laudible example, has [Page 28] not only improved the breeding of good ſtock near home, but has ſpread it every-where within thoſe iſlands. The Iriſh breeders have given him very large prices for his bulls: Mr Bakewell keeps great numbers, and has let ſeveral for one ſeaſon, as high as from twenty to ſixty guineas each, into different parts of Britain.
THE ſhort-horned breed of cattle, is the next to be deſcribed; and it is pretty evident that our forefathers have imported theſe from the Continent:—Firſt, becauſe they are ſtill in many places called the Dutch breed:—2dly, becauſe we find theſe cattle no-where in this iſland, except along the eaſt coaſt, facing thoſe parts of the Continent where the ſame kind of cattle are ſtill bred; and reaching from Lincolnſhire ſouthwards, to the borders of Scotland northwards. The [Page 29] long-horns and theſe have met upon the mountains which divide Yorkſhire from Lancaſhire, &c.: and, by croſſing, they have produced a mixed breed called half-longhorns; a very heavy, ſtrong, and not very unuſeful kind of cattle: but we do not find that the one kind have ſpread further weſt, nor the others eaſt.—But, 3dly, I remember a Gentleman of the county of Durham, (a Mr Michael Dobiſon), who went in the early part of his life into Holland, in order to buy bulls; and thoſe he brought over, I have been told, did much ſervice in improving the breed: and this Mr Dobiſon, and neighbours even in my day, were noted for having the beſt breeds of ſhort-horned cattle, and ſold their bulls and heifers for very great prices. But afterwards, ſome other people of leſs knowledge going over, brought home ſome bulls that in all probability [Page 30] introduced into that coaſt the diſagreeable kind of cattle, well known to the breeders upon the river Tees, and called lyery, or doubled-lyered, that is, black-fleſhed; for, one of theſe creatures, notwithſtanding it will feed to a vaſt weight, and though you feed it ever ſo long, yet will not have one pound of fat about it, neither within nor without†; and the fleſh (for it does not deſerve to be called beef) is as black and coarſe-grained, as we generally ſuppoſe horſe-fleſh to be. However, by the pains and attention of the breeders, this uſeleſs diſagreeable breed is now pretty well out of the [Page 31] country. No man will buy one of this kind, if he knows any-thing of the matter; and if he ſhould be once taken in, he will remember it well for the future; for people converſant with cattle very readily find them out, from their round form all over, particularly their buttocks, which are turned like a black coach-horſe, and the ſmallneſs of the tail: But they are beſt known to the graziers and dealers in cattle, by the feel or touch of the fingers; and indeed it is this nice touch or feel of the hand, that in a great meaſure conſtitutes the judge of cattle—But more of this afterwards.
The Yorkſhire firkin-butter ſo famous in the London markets, and thin ſkimmed-milk cheeſe, are all made from the cows of this breed; for they give the moſt milk of any kind of cows we know of, tho' it is generally ſaid not to be ſo good in [Page 32] quality as the long-horned cows milk; and tho' the cheeſes made from long-horned cows, fetch the higheſt price at market, yet the firkin-butter made from the ſhort-horns has the beſt character.
Our heavieſt and largeſt oxen, when properly fed, victual the Eaſt-India ſhips: as they produce the thickeſt beef, conſequently keeps in the juices, and ſuits beſt for ſuch long voyages. Our Royal Navy ſhould alſo be victualled from theſe; but, by the jobs made by contractors, and the abuſes lately crept in, our honeſt tars, I am afraid, are often fed with fleſh rather than that valuable beef. However, the coal-ſhips from Newcaſtle, Shields, Sunderland, &c. are totally ſupplied from the beef of theſe valuable animals. Theſe oxen in common feed to from 60 to 100 ſtone weight, 14 lb. to the ſtone; and they have ſeveral [Page 33] times been fed to 120, 130, and ſome particular ones to 140 ſtone the four quarters only.—Sir Thomas Haggerſtone of Haggerſtone in Northumberland, perhaps bred and fed the two largeſt and heavieſt oxen of this or any other breed then ſhewn in this kingdom: The beſt judges allowed them to weigh 140 ſtone each;—however, their real weight was not known, as Sir Thomas, or his ſteward, I am told, ſold them to two butchers, who attempted to drive them to Edinburgh to ſhew them alive for money by the head; but I underſtand, the one dropped down dead on the road, and the other in Edinburgh, or between that place and Glaſgow, from their exceſſive fat, and inability to travel,—or rather from the want of judgment or neglect in the drivers. Since Sir Thomas Haggerſtone's oxen were killed, Mr Hill of Blackwell near Darlington [Page 34] in the county of Durham, in the year 1779, had an ox killed, of his own breeding and feeding, whoſe four quarters weighed 151 ſtone and 10 lb. 14 lb. to the ſtone; and which I believe exceeded any ox ever fed in this iſland, for either fat, weight, or beauty.
This breed of cattle, like moſt others, is better and worſe in different diſtricts; not ſo much owing, I apprehend, to the goodneſs or badneſs of the ground, as to the judgment and attention of the breeders. — In Lincolnſhire†, [Page 35] (which is the fartheſt ſouth that we meet with any quantity of this kind of cattle), they are in general more ſubject to lyer or black fleſh, than thoſe bred farther north: And in that rich flat part of Yorkſhire called Holderneſs, they are much the ſame as ſouth of the Humber of which we have been ſpeaking. It is probable they had ſtuck more to the lyery, black-beefed Dutch breed, than their more northern neighbours, at that unfortunate period when theſe were imported from the Continent, or perhaps the latter had ſeen their error ſooner. But, from whatever cauſe this happened, it is a fact, that as ſoon as we croſs the Yorkſhire Wolds northward, we find this breed alter for the better:—they become finer in the bone, in the carcaſe, and in a great meaſure free from that diſagreeable lyery ſort, which has brought [Page 36] ſuch an odium upon this perhaps moſt valuable breed. When you reach that fine country on both ſides of the river Tees, you are then in the center of this breed of cattle—a country that has been long eminent for good ſtock of all kinds—the country where the Dobbiſons firſt raiſed a ſpirit of emulation amongſt the breeders, which is ſtill kept up by Mr Hill, Mr Charges, Mr Collings, Mr Maynard, &c. The Darlington and Yarm annual fairs ſtill continue to ſend out large droves of fine oxen, ſteers, and queys.
I am ſorry to obſerve, that there are much fewer ſteers kept now, than uſed to be formerly. Two reaſons may be aſſigned for this:—Firſt, Lands are now rented at ſo high a pitch, that farmers cannot afford to keep ſteers to the age of oxen, without working them:—which brings me to my ſecond reaſon, viz. That fewer oxen are uſed in the draught now than formerly. [Page 37] And a remedy for this complain perhaps may not be ſo readily pointed out; becauſe, tho' a few people are convinced of the utility of drawing oxen in many caſes, yet the generality of farmers will be very unwilling to be perſuaded to this, becauſe oxen are ſlower in their motion than horſes, without adverting to the advantages attending the oxen in the feeding, ſhoeing, harneſs, &c.; but above all, the concluſion (between an ox fatted for the ſhambles, after working three or four years, or indeed a lean ox ſold to feed, and a horſe ſold to the dog-kennel) is ſo exceedingly ſtriking, that I preſume moſt people, when they reflect upon this very important matter, will agree to the drawing of oxen in every kind of work wherein they ſuit. I uſe the expreſſion ſuit, becauſe I would not be underſtood to think, as ſome people do, that oxen [Page 38] will anſwer as well as horſes in every kind of farming work; by no means: —But I apprehend, that oxen will do ſeveral kinds of home-work equally as well as horſes. I advance this opinion from ſeveral years experience: and I do believe, that moſt farmers might uſe part oxen along with their horſes; but permit me to ſay, that I would in general recommend the oxen to draw by themſelves, and the horſes by themſelves, becauſe the difference of the ſtep does not ſuit at all.
Much more might be ſaid upon this important ſubject, but I muſt not now enter upon it; and will only add, that I heartily wiſh our Legiſlature would take this matter into conſideration, and give premiums to encourage the rearing and drawing of oxen, and alſo to promote the breeding of the beſt kinds of ſtock, as there is little doubt but it would have moſt beneficial [Page 39] effects.—It is true, that many of our agricultural ſocieties do give premiums for the above purpoſes; but theſe, though highly meritorious, are only partial, and confined to certain diſtricts, while the influence of the other would be general and extenſive.
The north part of Durham, all Northumberland, and a few places in the ſouth of Scotland, are almoſt the only places in this iſland where any number of oxen are now kept to age. Part of theſe are bought by the drovers, to go ſouth, for grazing; the reſt are fed at home, to ſupply the coal-trade. It is true they draw a few oxen in Herefordſhire, and ſome of the weſtern counties†; but thoſe of Lancaſhire, Yorkſhire, &c. are now moſtly ſold at three, four, or at moſt five years old, ſteers and oxen.
[Page 40] THE Polled or Humbled Cattle come next under our conſideration,—a kind well deſerving of notice. We find a few of theſe ſtraggling through different parts of England and Scotland: amongſt the reſt, I remember Lord Darlington, not many years ago, had a very handſome breed of them, finely globed with red and white. But we muſt look for the original of theſe in Galloway, a large diſtrict in the ſouth-weſt of Scotland: They are moſtly bred upon the muirs or hilly country, and grazed upon the lands nearer the ſea, until part of them are riſing four, and others five years old, when the graziers and drovers take them up in prodigious numbers to the fairs in Norfolk and Suffolk†, [Page 41] previous to the turnip feeding ſeaſons: from whence they are again removed in the winter and ſpring, in part to ſupply the amazing conſumption of the capital, where they are readily ſold, and at high prices; for, few or no cattle ſell ſo high in Smithfield-market, being ſuch nice cutters up, and laying the fat on upon the moſt valuable parts; and this is a great excellence in all feeding cattle. It is no uncommon thing in this refined market, to ſee one of theſe little bullocks outſell a coarſe Lincolnſhire ox, tho' the latter be heavier by ſeveral ſtones weight‡.
The manner of rearing calves in Galloway, is ſo ſingular, and ſo different from any-thing of the kind [Page 42] that I had before ſeen or heard of, that I hope the mentioning of it here will not be objected to.—They are allowed to run with their dams all the day; but are prevented from ſucking, by means of a ſmall piece of leather with ſharp ſpikes of iron fixed upon the outſide, tied upon the upper part of the calf's noſe, which prickling the cow every time the calf attempts to ſuck, prevents her from letting it ſuck; until the milk-maid comes, when ſhe takes off the muzzle from the little animal's noſe, and while ſhe ſtrips two of the teats, the calf takes care to empty the other two. As ſoon as the maid has done, ſhe fixes on the inſtrument again; but it is done in ſuch a manner as not to hinder the calf from feeding upon the graſs, though it is not allowed to taſte the milk until the girl returns to her milking.
[Page 43] I do not recollect whether they do it in Galloway, but I have obſerved that it is the general practice through Scotland, to milk their cows in ſummer three times in the day. In Galloway they ſpay more queys than perhaps in all the iſland beſides; and in this too their methods are different from any other part I am acquainted with, for they do not cut them until they are a year or near a year old; whereas in every other place I know, the quey calves are ſpayed from one to three months old: and indeed it is now generally admitted as the ſafeſt practice, to caſtrate calves and lambs, male or female, while very young.
I find the breeders in Galloway, like moſt other breeding countries in theſe kingdoms, complain of their old breed being loſt, or at leaſt much wore out. That there may be ſome truth in theſe complaints, I will not [Page 44] take upon me to deny:—But perhaps there may be other reaſons which in ſome meaſure contribute to lead people into this way of thinking. In this age of improvement, I apprehend we examine more narrowly: We diſtinguiſh with more perſpicuity, and conſequently we judge more nicely. We are not content now, with judging by one of our ſenſes, as I believe uſed to be the caſe, viz. by looking on ſlightly; but we now join the ſenſe of feeling to ſeeing. The farmer of this day is not aſhamed to learn from the butcher to feel with the fingers, that touch-ſtone of knowledge, in regard to the judging of animals already prepared, or to be prepared for the ſhambles. We undoubtedly firſt judge by the ſight; which being pleaſed, we bring the ſenſe of feeling to its aſſiſtance†; [Page 45] —and if this alſo approves, we then conclude that the animal ſuits our purpoſe, or is anſwerable to the idea we had formed of it.
From theſe, and ſuch like reaſons, I have been induced to believe that breeders and graziers are miſled, or miſtaken at leaſt in a great meaſure, reſpecting the breeds of cattle, &c. being loſt, and of cattle, ſheep, &c. being worſe now than formerly.— The fact I apprehend is, that from our more refined notions, we are become worſe to pleaſe; and if matters go on in the right line, we ſhall every day become nicer and clearer in our judgments of ſtock, as well as other things. How is it probable that we ſhould loſe our beſt breeds of cattle? [Page 46] or that our domeſtic animals ſhould decline in real value? when ſuch a laudible ſpirit for the breeding of good ſtock every-where prevails, and ſuch an encouragement to it; for, tho' our corn-markets keep fluctuating, and of late years have been in common below par in the north and eaſt parts of Britain, in proportion to the great advance in the rents of farms, yet the value of black cattle and ſheep have kept progreſſively advancing; ſo that the importation of live-cattle from our ſiſter-kingdom, had not ſuch a material effect as might have been expected.—But, to return to the breeders in Galloway, and even ſuppoſing their breed of cattle in ſome degree loſt, yet there is little doubt not only of its being recovered, but ſtill more improved, when ſuch a leading nobleman as Lord Selkirk is among the breeders. Mr Murray of [Page 47] Broughton, and Mr Herring of Corrough-tree, have been long very eminent in the breeding of Galloway cattle. Mr Craik, Mr Dalyell, and ſeveral others, have tried a croſs from Mr. Bakewell's bulls; but how far this has ſucceeded, I have not yet been able to learn: indeed I do not ſee how they can judge themſelves without a fuller trial. But I found that the generality of the breeders were againſt croſſing with Mr Bakewell's or any other kind of cattle, believing that their real original polled breed had already been injured from croſſing with different kinds.
Tho' the generality of their cattle are polled, yet they have ſeveral with horns, which they ſay are a baſtard or mongrel breed, from croſſing with long-horned bulls from Weſtmoreland and Cumberland. They prefer the polled ones, and of theſe the [Page 48] black or dark-brindled ones, to any other; and all allow them to be the original breed of the county. The general weight of their ſteers or oxen, is from forty to ſixty ſtone, ſome reach ſeventy and upwards.
KILOES, or Highland cattle, according to our arrangement, are the next to be treated of.—Theſe hardy animals are in poſſeſſion of all that extenſive and mountainous country called the Highlands of Scotland, together with the iſlands bounded on all ſides by the ſea and the Grampian hills, which, as I underſtand them, begin on the north ſide of the Frith of Clyde, and run into the eaſt ſea near Aberdeen. All the Lowlands of Scotland, except Galloway, which we have already treated of, have a mixed breed of cattle. Towards Cumberland, they are half long-horns, half polls. On the borders [Page 49] of Northumberland, they are mixed with ſhort-horns, until you reach near Teviotdale, when they become altogether a coarſe kind of ſhort-horns, or what the Yorkſhire jobbers call Runts; except a few pretty good ſhort-horned cattle bred in that pleaſant and fine country the Tweed-ſide. This ſame kind of runtiſh coarſe breed, continues all the way to the Frith of Forth. Croſſing this narrow ſea into Fifeſhire, you would at firſt imagine the Fife cattle a diſtinct breed, from their upright white horns like a Welſh ox, being exceedingly light-lyered and thin-made; but I am pretty clear it is only from their being more nearly allied to the kiloes, and conſequently leſs of the coarſe kind of ſhort-horns in them. The cattle all along this coaſt, continue to change more and more, growing ſtill leſs until upon the edges of the mountains they become [Page 50] quite kiloes, but ſtill much inferior to that pure unmixed valuable breed of kiloes which we meet with in the more northern and Weſt Highlands, and all the iſlands, but particularly the Iſle of Skye, and that tract of country called Kintail. It is in theſe two noted places that you meet with the native breed of kiloes; a hardy, induſtrious, and excellent breed of cattle in every reſpect, calculated to thrive in a cold expoſed mountainous country. When theſe are taken ſouth, and grazed, they both feed very readily, and afford remarkable good beef: their colours are black, brindled, or dun, in general; but the breeders here, like the Galloway people, prefer the black ones.
Prodigious numbers of theſe cattle are every autumn drove to the ſouthward. Many of them are bought up by that great dealer Mr Birkwhiſtle, [Page 51] for that weſtern diſtrict of Yorkſhire called Craven: many more are ſent into Norfolk, Suffolk, Eſſex, and other parts of the ſouth of England, where they are fatted, and either ſlaughtered at their home-markets, or ſent to Smithfield. The demand for kiloes into England, is of vaſt importance to the Nobility and Gentry who have eſtates in the North of Scotland, as the moſt of their rents are paid in live cattle. The weight of theſe cattle runs in general from twenty to thirty-five ſtone; ſome particular ones reach to more than forty.
THE French or Alderney breed of cattle, are only to be met with about the ſeats of our Nobility and Gentry, upon account of their giving exceeding rich milk to ſupport the luxury of the tea-table. Indeed if it was not for the ſake of method, and my believing [Page 52] them a diſtinct breed, I might have ſaved the trouble of naming them at all; as I imagine this breed too delicate and tender ever to be much attended to by our Britiſh farmers, for they are not able to bear the cold of this iſland, particularly the northmoſt parts of it. They are very fine-boned in general, light-red or yellow in colour, and their beef generally yellow, or very high-coloured, tho' very fine in the grain, and well-flavoured. They make themſelves very fat; and I never remember ſeeing one of them in the leaſt ſubject to lyer, or black-fleſhed; and I have ſeen ſome very uſeful cattle bred from a croſs between an Alderney cow and a ſhort-horned bull.
WE come now to the ſixth and laſt diſtinct breed of cattle, according to our opinion, to be met with in this [Page 53] iſland†, viz. The Wild Breed.—Theſe, from being untameable, can only be kept within walls;—conſequently, but a very few of them are now to be met with, preſerved out of curioſity by ſome of our Nobility: they are ſo abſolutely wild, that thoſe I have ſeen could not be come ſo near to, as to form a proper judgment of them.— Theſe were all over of a creamy or dimmiſh white, except the ears, which are red, their hair long and thick all over them, horns milk-white, and ſtand as upright as thoſe upon a Welſh bullock.—As ſoon as we came near them, they fled to a confiderable diſtance; then turned ſuddenly round, and ſet themſelves as in battle-array, facing us, knocking their horns one againſt another.
We were told by the park-keeper, that they always conceal their calves [Page 54] from the firſt dropping of them, which would be very difficult to find if he was not to watch the dam early or late, when ſhe goes privately to give it ſuck; after which it immediately claps down again, among brakes, ruſhes, &c. while ſhe ſteals away with great caution.—We were alſo told that they feed well; that the beef is fine-grained, and well-flavoured; and indeed their form denotes kindly fleſh, from what we could judge.
I had almoſt forgot to obſerve, that when the park-keeper wants to caſtrate a calf, having previouſly well marked the place where it is hid, he goes very ſoftly till he ſeizes his prey; then, after making as ſhort work as poſſible, he runs to his horſe, (which is hooked as near as can be), and rides for his life; for, the firſt noiſe of the calf, brings not only the dam, but the whole hord inſtantly; [Page 55] and he told us that he ſometimes eſcaped very narrowly, as it makes them quite outrageous: the ſhooting of them is alſo attended with danger.†
HAVING given a kind of hiſtory of the different breeds of cattle made uſe of in this iſland, we ſhall now, according to promiſe, endeavour to point out the perfections and imperfections of each.—Firſt, then, the longhorns are moſt remarkable for, and different from the other kinds, in the length of their horns, the thickneſs and firm texture of their hides, the length and thickneſs of their hair, ſize of their hoofs, and coarſe leathy thick necks: they likewiſe are deeper made in their forequarters, and lighter in the hind quarters, [Page 56] than the other breeds in general: they are narrower in their ſhape, leſs in point of weight than the ſhort-horns, though better weighers in proportion to their ſize, and give conſiderably leſs milk, though it is ſaid to afford more cream in proportion: they are more varied in colour than any of the other breeds; but whatever the colour is, they have in general a white ſtreak or lace along their back, which the breeders term finched. They are underſtood by graziers to be in general rather flow-feeders; except that particular kind diſtinguiſhed and recommended by Mr. Bakewell: theſe are ſaid to eat leſs food than the others, make remarkably fat in a ſhort ſpace of time, and lay their fat upon the moſt valuable parts, but have little tallow in them when fed; and when uſed to the dairy, give very little milk. It is alſo obſervable, that this kind [Page 57] differ from the reſt of the long-horned cattle, in having very fine clean ſmall bones in their legs, and very thin hides. The ſhort-horns differ from the other breeds in the ſhortneſs of their horns, being wider and thicker in their form or mould, conſequently feed to the moſt weight; but the moſt eſſential difference conſiſts in the quantity of milk they give beyond any other breed: their being tenderer than the other kinds, (the Alderney excepted), may probably be owing to giving ſuch a large quantity of milk. Indeed they have in general very thin hides, and much leſs hair upon them than the other ſorts, (Alderneys always to be excepted); they alſo afford by much the moſt tallow when fattened. It is ſaid of this kind, and I ſuppoſe very juſtly, that they eat more food than any of the other breeds: nor ſhall we wonder at this, [Page 58] when we conſider that they excel in thoſe three valuable particulars, viz. in affording the greateſt quantity of beef, tallow, and milk. Their colours are very much varied; but the generality are red and white mixed, what the breeders call flecked, and when properly mixed is a very rich fine colour.
Speaking of the colours of neat cattle, reminds me of a conjecture which I will take the liberty of mentioning. In all the accounts of cattle relative to this iſland, which I have ſeen either in deeds or law-ſtatutes, they are called black cattle. Now, I would only aſk, whether this does not ſtrengthen that opinion of the ſhort-horned breeds being introduced from the Continent, perhaps ſome time after our ſea-coaſts and low-country was improved and incloſed? and before that period, is it [Page 59] not probable we had moſtly the ſmall black cattle, which ſtill are to be met with in all the wild mountainous uncultivated parts of Wales and Scotland?
NOW we will ſpeak of the Galloway Breed, or Polled Cattle.—This valuable breed ſeems to be about as much leſs in weight and ſize to the long-horns, as theſe are to the ſhort-horns; but they differ moſt eſſentially from every other breed of cattle, in having no horns at all. Some few indeed (in every other reſpect polls) have two little unmeaning horns, two, three, or four inches long, hanging down looſe from the ſame parts that other cattle's horns grow from, and are joined to the head by a little looſe ſkin and fleſh, and are ſomewhat curious. In almoſt every other reſpect (except wanting horns) theſe [Page 60] cattle reſemble the long-horns both in colour and ſhape; only they are ſhorter in their form, which probably makes them weight leſs. Indeed their hides ſeem to be between the two laſt-mentioned breeds, not ſo thick as the longhorns, nor ſo thin as the ſhort-horns; but, like the beſt feeding kind of the long-horns, they lay their fat upon the moſt valuable parts, and their beef is more mixed with fat, or marbled, than the ſhort-horns in general.
THE Kiloes come next in courſe. Theſe are ſtill leſs in proportion to the polled cattle than they are to the long-horns, or thoſe to the ſhort-horns. Theſe alſo are covered with a long thick coat of hair, like the polls and long-horns; and, like theſe, their beef is fine-grained, well-flavoured, and mixed or marbled, but not ſo [Page 61] handſome on the outſide of the beef when killed, and not of ſo bright a colour, but are often ſpotted with black, even upon the beſt parts, except when made very fat. Nevertheleſs, theſe are a moſt valuable breed of cattle, and better adapted perhaps to the cold regions where they are bred, than any other kind we are acquainted with. However, Admiral Sir John Lockhart-Roſs, and ſome other ſpirited Gentlemen, have tried ſome croſſes between long-horned bulls, and the Iſle of Skye cows. Whether this will anſwer the end deſired or not, time will ſhew; but whatever the reſult may be, there is certainly great merit in the attempt.
As we have now gone through the perfections and imperfections of theſe four kinds of cattle, which I preſume are the moſt worthy the attention [Page 62] of our farmers, graziers, and breeders, (for I apprehend the Alderney and wild cattle are out of the queſtion, for reaſons before given), we will beg leave to make a few compariſons and obſervations before we conclude this ſubject; and in doing this, we ſhall begin with the Kiloes firſt, for reaſons which will appear afterwards.
But, previous to that, I would obſerve, that though a breed of cattle may have much merit, and ſuit ſome particular diſtricts exceedingly well, and better perhaps than any other kind we know of; yet it would be very abſurd to aſſert, that they would anſwer as well in every part of the country, or even in thoſe parts wherein they have not yet been tried: and admitting that in ſome of thoſe parts they might anſwer exceedingly well, yet who will pretend to ſay that they will ſuit in all?
[Page 63] From theſe conſiderations, I think my experienced Readers will readily agree with me, that though this very uſeful breed of little cattle ſuit ſo well upon the bleak hills in the North, as not to be in danger of being outdone by any other breed; yet that it would be very abſurd to ſuppoſe they will anſwer to breed in thoſe rich grounds by the river-ſides, or in the fertile plains in our midland countries, better than the breeds already made uſe of in thoſe parts.
Although I am very clear in what has been ſaid about the kiloes, yet I will not take upon me to ſay that the right Galloway cattle would not do in the beſt breeding grounds we have, [Page 64] becauſe I confeſs that I have a very high opinion of this breed as quick true feeders, and as kindly fleſhed, or excellent eating beef, by which they have eſtabliſhed their character in the firſt market in the iſland. How they would anſwer as dairy cows, I cannot pretend to ſay, as I want ſufficient information to judge from.
Since I wrote the above, I have been informed from good authority, that the polled cows are very good milkers in proportion to their ſize, and the milk good in quality, which certainly adds to the value of this excellent breed: that the oxen and ſpayed heifers anſwer well for the draught. I have good authority to aſſert, however, as there is ſuch a ſimilarity betwixt the beſt of theſe, and that breed of long-horns referred to before, and recommended by Mr Bakewell, we will leave them, and go to theſe long-horns; [Page 65] but not without firſt wiſhing that proper trials were made with theſe, and between theſe, the long-horns and ſhort-horns, by breeders of judgment, experience, and attention in the different breeding counties in this iſland.
We ſhall now return to theſe two breeds of cattle, the long-horns and ſhort-horns, that are at preſent in poſſeſſion of the beſt and greateſt part of this iſland. Theſe two rival-breeds, between which it has long been a diſpute with the breeders of both, which are the beſt and moſt advantageous, have been variouſly intermixed in different parts of Great Britain; but it is the two unmixed diſtinct breeds that we now mean to compare, and to the beſt of our knowledge, in the moſt unprejudiced manner, point out their different perfections and imperfections, and then leave the candid experienced reader to form his own judgment.[Page 64] [...] [Page 65] [...]
[Page 66] As we have already obſerved, the long-horns excel in the thickneſs and firm texture of the hide, in the length and thickneſs of the hair, and conſequently muſt be hardier; in their beef being finer grained and more mixed or marbled than the ſhort-horns, better weighers in proportion to their ſize, and milk richer in quality: for as to their horns being longer, I do not think them either better or worſe for that, and therefore do not bring it into the account. But they are inferior to the ſhort-horns in giving a leſs quantity of milk, in weighing leſs upon the whole, in affording leſs tallow when killed, being in general ſlower feeders, and in being coarſer made, and more leathery or bulliſh in the under ſide of the neck. In few words, the long-horns excel in the hide, hair, and quality of the beef,—the ſhort-horns in the quantity of beef, tallow, [Page 67] and milk. Each breed have long had, and probably long may have their particular advocates; but if I may hazard a conjecture, is it not probable that both kinds may have their particular advantages in different ſituations? Why may not the thick firm hides, and long cloſe-ſet hair of the one kind, be a protection and ſecurity againſt thoſe impetuous winds and heavy rains to which the weſt coaſt of this iſland is ſo ſubject, while the more regular ſeaſons and mild climate upon the eaſt coaſt is more ſuitable to the conſtitutions of the ſhort-horns or Dutch breed. I would wiſh to be underſtood, that when I ſay the long-horns exceed the ſhort-horns in the quality of the beef, I mean that preference is due to the particular breed of long-horns only taken notice of before, as ſelected, diſtinguiſhed, and recommended by that moſt attentive [Page 68] breeder Mr Bakewell; for as to the long-horned breed in common, I am inclined to think their beef rather inferior than ſuperior to that of the generality of ſhort-horns; and there is little doubt but a breed of ſhort-horned cattle might be ſelected, equal, if not ſuperior to even that very kindly-fleſhed ſort of Mr Bakewell's, provided any able breeder or body of breeders had or would be at the ſame pains and pay the ſame attention to theſe that Mr Bakewell and his neighbours have done to the long-horns. But it has all along been the misfortune of the ſhort-horned breeders to purſue the largeſt and biggeſt-boned ones as the beſt, without conſidering that thoſe are the beſt that pay the moſt money for their keeping in a given time. However, the ideas of our ſhort-horned breeders being now more enlarged, and their minds more [Page 69] open to conviction, we may hope in a few years to ſee great improvements made in that breed of cattle.
I have hitherto taken no notice of the Iriſh cattle, though it behoves the breeders in that iſland above all others in the Britiſh dominions to pay attention to the breeding of cattle, as beef is the ſtaple commodity of the iſland; and however Great Britain may have ſuffered, it is highly probable that the Iriſh have been benefited by the high price their beef has born during the war with America.— I take the Iriſh cattle to be a mixed breed between the long-horns and the Welſh or Scotch, but moſt inclined to the long-horns, though of leſs weight than thoſe in England. It is wonderful to conſider the numbers of cattle that fertile iſland produces: I have ſeen at one fair at Ballinaſloe in the [Page 70] county of Roſecommon, I believe thirty-five thouſand head of cattle ſhewn, and half of theſe fat ones, all bought up for the ſlaughter at Corke. Of late years, ſeveral of the Iriſh breeders have bought long-horned bulls and heifers at very high prices from Lancaſhire, Leiceſterſhire, Warwickſhire, &c. particularly the Mr Frenches and other ſpirited breeders from Roſecommon and different parts of the weſt of Ireland, which has been of very great advantage in improving their breed. I ſaw ſome of the cattle deſcended from theſe croſſes, ſhewn at Ballinaſloe-fair, which were greatly ſuperior to any others ſhewn there.
THE third claſs of domeſtic animals which we propoſed treating of are Sheep, the breeding of which is of the utmoſt importance to this nation, moſt worthy the conſtant attention of the Legiſlature, and the particular conſideration of almoſt every farmer in Great Britain: for we have very few farms in this iſland, wherein ſheep may not be kept to advantage, either in the ſtock way, in grazing, or feeding fat lambs.—Mr Pope ſomewhere ſays, 'The fur that warms the Monarch, warmed a bear.' But the furs of theſe valuable creatures warm every claſs of people from the King to the beggar; employ thouſands in the manufacturing of their fleeces, and whole fleets in the exportation. Every ſubject that his Majeſty has, is [Page 72] intereſted in this great ſtaple commodity, from the Lord who ſits upon a woolſack, to the induſtrious poor who chearfully card and ſpin.
The numberleſs flocks that are every-where ſpread over the face of this iſland, from the Land's-end to John-o'-Groat's houſe, are exceedingly intermixed and varied. Nevertheleſs, the original diſtinct breeds that I have ſeen, may, I apprehend, be reduced to ſeven, viz. iſt, the Lincolnſhire breed; 2d, the Tees-water breed; 3d, the Dorſetſhire breed; 4th and 5th, the two breeds we find upon the borders of England and Scotland, very different, tho' near neighbours, the one called the long ſheep, the other the ſhort ſheep; 6th, the dun-faced breed, which is ſpread through the greateſt part of the Highlands of Scotland; 7th, the Herefordſhire breed.
[Page 73] In regard to theſe ſeven different breeds of Sheep, we ſhall purſue pretty nearly the ſame method we did with the Cattle, after firſt giving a deſcription of the Ram or Tupe of what I eſteem the beſt breed.
HIS head ſhould be fine and ſmall, his face white, noſtrils wide and expanded, his eyes prominent and rather bold or daring, ears ſhort and thin, his collar full from his breaſt and ſhoulders, but tapering gradually all the way to where the neck and head join, which muſt be very fine and graceful, being perfectly free from any coarſe leather hanging down; the ſhoulders broad and full, which muſt at ſame time join ſo eaſy to the collar forward and crops backward as to leave not the leaſt hollow in either place; the mutton upon his arm or [Page 74] fore-thigh muſt come quite to the knee; all his legs white and upright, with a clean fine bone, being equally clear from ſuperfluous ſkin and coarſe hairy wool from the knee and hough downwards; the breaſt broad and well forward, which will keep his fore-legs at a proper wideneſs; his girth or cheſt full and deep, and inſtead of a hollow behind the ſhoulders, that part by ſome called the fore-flank ſhould be quite full; the back and loins broad, flat, and ſtraight, from which the ribs muſt riſe with a fine circular arch; his belly ſtraight, the tail well ſet up, quarters long and full, with the mutton quite down to the hough, which ſhould neither ſtand in nor out; his twiſt deep and full, which with the broad breaſt will keep his fore-legs open and ſquare; the whole body covered with a fine thin roſy pelt, and that with a fine long, bright, ſoft wool.
[Page 75] WE ſhall now proceed to the firſt or Lincolnſhire breed.—This fertile county, as I have ſaid before, has the ſame right I ſuppoſe to be called the mother-county or country for long-wool'd ſheep, that Lancaſhire has to long-horned cattle: But the compariſon may be carried further; for as this laſt-named county, from paying too much attention to big bones, hide and horns, ſuffered the Leiceſterſhire and Warwickſhire breeders to ſteal from them their valuable breed above referred to, before they were well aware of it; ſo alſo the Lincolnſhire breeders, by too great a fondneſs for heavy wool and large-boned ſheep, ſuffered the ſame diſcerning ſet of breeders from the midland counties, to rob them of a much more valuable breed of ſheep, which they undoubtedly were firſt in poſſeſſion of, before they were well ſenſible of the value of them.
[Page 76] It is true that the Lincolnſhire breeders can juſtly boaſt of clipping the greateſt weight of wool from a given number of ſheep, of any other ſet of people in this iſland: but then this very heavy wool ſeldom or never fails to cover a very coarſe-grained carcaſe of mutton; a kind of mutton well known for its large grain and big bones in the London markets, which not only ſells for leſs money by the pound in the metropolis than any other kind of mutton, and in every market in the iſland wherever they happen to be expoſed to ſale, but has brought an odium upon the large mutton which the beſt kinds do not deſerve.
It is very well known that the mutton of that breed of ſheep firſt introduced by Mr Bakewell, and now ſpread over moſt parts of the iſland, is as remarkable for the fineneſs of its [Page 77] grain, as the Lincolnſhire ſheep are for coarſe grain; the former is alſo as fine-flavoured and ſweet as a mountain ſheep, poſſeſſing moſt of the good qualities of theſe breeds without their bad ones: Yet this is not the worſt of it; for this kind of ſheep cannot be made fat in a reaſonable time in any part of the iſland except Romney-Marſh, their own rich marſhes in Lincolnſhire, or ſome very rich grazing grounds. Perhaps this is the beſt reaſon we can give for a ſet of ſenſible men ſo long adhering to this coarſe-grained ſlow-feeding tribe. Indeed the prodigious weight of wool which is annually ſhorn from theſe ſheep, is an inducement to the marſh-men to give great prices to the breeders for their hogs or hogerils (as they are there called), which though they muſt be kept two years more before they get them fit for market, yet in the [Page 78] mean time they get three clips of wool from them, which alone pays them well in thoſe rich marſhes. However, I am very glad to find that the prejudices of the Lincolnſhire breeders are now giving way to their better-informed reaſon, as many of the great tupe-breeders in Lincolnſhire are now hiring and buying rams from the midland counties; which is certainly the beſt, readieſt, and only method to recover that valuable breed of ſheep of which they firſt were in poſſeſſion, and which they of any other county of Great Britain can make the moſt advantage, from having the greateſt quantity of rich ſheep paſturage.
After what has been ſaid, will it not appear very extraordinary, that not only the midland counties, but Yorkſhire, Durham, and even Northumberland, can ſend their long-wool'd breed [Page 79] of ſheep to market at two years old, fatter in general than Lincolnſhire can at three. It is a matter of fact, however; and I have no doubt of clearing it up to the ſatisfaction of my unprejudiced readers in a few words.
The rich fat marſhes in Lincolnſhire are beyond any other county I know of in the iſland, beſt adapted to the growing and the forcing of long heavy wool. This, with the high price that kind of wool had given previous to the late war, very probably induced the ſheep-breeders of that county to purſue it ſo ardently in preference to every other requiſite, that they neglected the form of the carcaſe and inclination to make readily fat; eſſentials that the other ſheep-breeding counties were under a neceſſity of attending to, or otherwiſe they could not have got them made fat in proper time, from their land not [Page 80] being in general near ſo rich as the Lincolnſhire marſhes. In ſhort the Lincolnſhire breeders, by running ſo much upon wool and large bones, loſt the thick firm carcaſe, broad flat back, fine clean ſmall bone, and inclination to make fat; thoſe diſtinguiſhing characteriſtics of our beſt ſheep, and for which the Leiceſterſhire breed is ſo eminently conſpicuous, the introduction of which reflects ſo much merit upon Mr Bakewell, who firſt faw the advantages attending this moſt uſeful breed, and who has ſo ſteadily purſued it that he has now eſtabliſhed them in almoſt every corner of theſe iſlands; for, notwithſtanding this breed originated in Lincolnſhire, the honour was reſerved to Mr Bakewell, of improving it to a pitch unknown in any former period.
The Lincolnſhire ſheep were become like their black horſes, two great [Page 81] ends with a long thin weak middle. But they have another breed of ſheep in Lincolnſhire, which I believe are now much wore out, ſtill worſe than the other, and from whence they had them will not be eaſy to make out. It is more than probable the large breed has come from the Continent, as well as the ſhort-horned cattle; but theſe ſeem all their own: however we have none like them in this iſland that I know of, except what have ſprung from Lincolnſhire. The ſort I refer to are abſolutely dwarfs: every feature is expreſſive of that diſagreeable deficiency ſo ſtrongly marked in the dwarfs in our own ſpecies; nor ſhould I have named them here but as a matter of curioſity: however they are well known in that county, and go by the name of Dunkies or Tunkies, perhaps a corruption of the word lonquin, from which the Chineſe pigs are vulgarly called Tunkies.
[Page 82] It is neceſſary to obſerve, that tho' we give the honour of the heavy-wool'd ſheep's origin to Lincolnſhire as I have ſaid before, yet I look upon thoſe to be only variations of the ſame breed, which are ſpread through moſt of our midland counties, particularly Marchland in Norfolk, the Iſle of Ely, Northamptonſhire, Rutlandſhire, Leiceſterſhire, Warwickſhire, part of Oxfordſhire, Gloceſterſhire, Staffordſhire and Darbyſhire, Nottinghamſhire and the ſouth parts of Yorkſhire, with all the Yorkſhire wolds: But when we come North towards the river Tees which divides Yorkſhire from the county of Durham, we there find that largeſt breed of ſheep, in this iſland always called the Teeswater breed.—This kind differs from the Lincolnſhire, in their wool not being ſo long and heavy, in ſtanding upon higher though finer-boned legs; [Page 83] yet ſupporting a thicker, firmer, heavier carcaſe, much wider upon their backs and ſides, and in affording a fatter and finer-grained caſe of mutton. Theſe ſheep weigh from 20 to 25 lib. per quarter; ſome particular ones have been fed to 50 lb. and upwards. But Mr Thomas Hutchinſon of Smeaton, an eminent breeder and grazier near the river Tees, fed a wedderſheep, which was killed about Chriſtmas, and weighed no leſs than 62 lb. 20 oz. per quarter, Avoirdupois; ſuch an extraordinary weight as was never before heard of in this iſland by ſeveral pounds per quarter. The ewes of this breed generally bring two lambs each ſeaſon, and ſometimes three, four, or even five.—But, ſpeaking of the fecundity of theſe ſheep, puts me in mind of an account I had from a correſpondent in regard to the fruitfulneſs of a ewe belonging to an [Page 84] acquaintance of his, which I will beg leave to tranſcribe in his own words, for the ſatisfaction of the curious part of my Readers.[Note: N. B. The firſt nine lambs were lambed within eleven months.]
It is only right to obſerve, that this large breed, of ſheep are not adapted to live in large flocks, or upon bare paſtures: they require good ground, lying thin on, viz. few together or in ſmall parcels, and great indulgence in winter. Accordingly we find, that in the fine tract of country by the Tees, where theſe ſheep are principally [Page 85] kept, the land is in general good, well ſheltered, and cut into ſmall incloſures, where they keep a very ſmall number in the ſame field, allow them to go to a hay-ſtack all the winter, or to hecks or ſheep-racks well ſupplied in the field, and very frequently give the ewes corn in troughs previous to their lambing.
THE Dorſetſhire breed of Sheep come next before us, and are ſaid to bear lambs twice yearly. But I am inclined to believe this is a miſtake; for, admitting that they may bring lambs twice in one particular year, yet they cannot well do it the next year, or for a ſucceſſion of years: or at leaſt if they ſuckle their lambs, I think they cannot; becauſe when it is conſidered that a ewe goes with lamb twenty-one weeks, ſhe muſt conſequently have only ten weeks to ſuckle or feed her [Page 86] two different breeds before ſhe takes the ram again, which will ſcarce ſuffice† But the peculiar property of this curious breed of ſheep, and what makes them ſo exceedingly convenient and advantageous to breed from, is, that you can have them to lamb at whatever ſeaſon of the year you chooſe, ſo as to have that particular kind of fat lamb called houſe-lamb, which is ſo early found at the tables of the Nobility and Gentry, and even among our tradeſmen in theſe luxurious times, and which are brought to London market by Chriſtmas or ſooner [Page 87] if wanted, and after that a conſtant and regular ſupply is kept up all the winter. At their firſt appearance, they are frequently ſold for half-aguinea, fifteen ſhillings, and ſometimes more per quarter; from which time they lower gradually in price until the ſpring affords plenty. The lambs are impriſoned in little dark cabbins or cupboards, where they never ſee the light except when the ſhepherd ſuckles them upon the ewes. The ewes are fed with oil-cake, hay, corn, and turnips, cabbages, or any other green food which that ſeaſon affords: theſe are given them in a field or cloſe contiguous to the lamb apartments, whereunto at proper times the attendant brings the nurſes, and while the lambs ſuck, their lodgings are made perfectly clean, and littered with freſh ſtraw. Vaſt attention is paid to this, for very much depends upon, [Page 88] cleanlineſs. Thus are invention and induſtry exerted to the utmoſt, to ſupply the wants of luxury.
It uſed to be ſaid ſome years ago, that this moſt ſingular breed of ſheep would not bring lambs ſo early except in the ſouthern parts of England, and that it was much owing to a particular mode of treatment practiſed by the ſhepherds and breeders in Dorſetſhire and the neighbouring counties, ſuch as heating the ewes by driving, &c. and then turning the rams to them. Others again aſſerted, that it was owing to the particular herbage produced upon the Dorſetſhire downs. But theſe imaginary notions are now all exploded, becauſe it is well known that York, Durham, Newcaſtle, and even Edinburgh, are of late years ſupplied with Chriſtmas houſe-lamb from the Dorſetſhire ſheep, without any particular arts being made uſe of. [Page 89] This breed of ſheep are white-faced, and moſt of them have horns, ſtand upon high ſmall legs, long and thin in the carcaſe, and vaſt numbers of them without any wool upon their bellies, eſpecially in Wiltſhire, which gives them a very uncouth appearance to ſtrangers. They produce a ſmall quantity of wool; but that is very fine in quality, though it varies in different diſtricts. The mutton of theſe ſheep is alſo very ſweet, and well-flavoured. The variations of this breed are ſpread through moſt of the ſouthern counties; but the true kind is only to to be found in Dorſetſhire and Wiltſhire. There is a breed not unlike theſe in Norfolk and Suffolk, which they fold on their fallows, but they are all grey or black-faced, and moſt of thoſe I have ſeen in the weſt, viz. Glouceſterſhire, Worceſterſhire, Herefordſhire, &c.; though ſome of them, [Page 90] very different from the Dorſetſhire, are I apprehend only variations of this breed, which variations continue northward until they are loſt amongſt thoſe of the Lincolnſhire breed.
They have a particular breed of ſheep, moſtly horned, in that weſtern part of Yorkſhire adjoining Lancaſhire called Craven, and the Sundales. I know not which breed to annex them to, but I think they have a good deal of the Dorſetſhire in them, eſpecially their horns and white faces.
After leaving theſe to the northwards, we firſt meet with that hardy, black-faced, wild-looking tribe, which in the borders are called the ſhort ſheep, in contra-diſtinction to that other border-breed which we ſhall next treat of, and generally known by the appellation of long ſheep. The ſhort kind, then, we have obſerved, [Page 91] begin ſomewhere in the northweſt of Yorkſhire, and are in poſſeſſion of all that hilly or rather mountainous track of country adjoining the Iriſh ſea, from Lancaſhire ſouthward, to Fort-William northward. Indeed their migration into the Weſtern Highlands of Scotland, has only been of late years; nor is there the leaſt doubt of their anſwering equally as well in the mountains of Argyleſhire, as in thoſe of Weſtmoreland and Cumberland: for, it is well known, that the climate is pretty much the ſame in all that rugged coaſt, having almoſt uninterrupted rains and ſtrong winds. Indeed the Galloway and Ayrſhire ſheep are in ſome degree different; but I take it only to be a variation probably from croſſes between theſe and the long ſheep. But, within theſe few years, they have in theſe two counties been making ſome trials of [Page 92] that moſt uſeful kind of ſheep, beſt known by the name of the Diſhley's breed; and every friend to his country will be glad to hear, when I now inform him that they have hitherto ſucceeded beyond expectation. Nor will any perſon converſant with breeding ſheep, be ſurpriſed at this; becauſe they are in every reſpect as well or better calculated to thrive in the flat country and lower hills, as the black-faced ones are for the mountains.
This hardy race differ from our other breeds, not only in their dark complection and horns, but principally in the long coarſe ſhagged wool which grows upon theſe mountaineers. The fleece is not unlike the hair growing upon a water-ſpaniel, and is ſeldom ſold higher than from 1½ d. to 3 d. per lib. Their eyes have a very fierce wild caſt: they run with aſtoniſhing agility, and ſeem quite adapted to [Page 93] theſe heathy mountains that run along all the weſt of Scotland, and the northweſt of England: they are ſeldom fed until they be three, four, or five years old, when the mutton is ſaid to be excellent, and gravy high-flavoured. The three great fairs for theſe ſheep, and where amazing numbers of them are ſold every year, is Stagſhawbank in Northumberland, Appleby in Weſtmoreland, and Linton in Scotland. I have been told that they have been trying this breed in thoſe remote parts to the north of the Murray-Frith, viz. Roſs-ſhire, Sutherland, and Caithneſs; nor is there a doubt of their anſwering better than the kind they have, which are the laſt breed in our arrangement, and which we ſhall deſcribe by and by.
But firſt let us give ſome account of the long ſheep, which though next neighbours to the ſhort ones, are almoſt [Page 94] as different from them as ſheep from goats: for, as the latter are horned, black-faced and black-legged, coarſe ſhagged open wool, with very ſhort firm carcaſes; the others, on the contrary, have long thin carcaſes, thick planted fine tender wool, white-faced, white-legged, and without horns. Indeed ſome few of theſe are ſpeckled in the face and legs; but thoſe are a mixed breed from the two kinds being probably croſſed at different times where they have been ſo very long neighbours: For, as you leave the heights of Annandale to the eaſtward, you inſenſibly looſe the ſhort ſheep and mixed breed; after which, all thoſe extenſive fine green hills on both the Scotch and Engliſh borders from Redwater ſouthward, and on all ſides of the mountains of Cheviot until you join the barren heaths of Lammer-muir northwards, are covered [Page 95] with the long breed:—a kind of ſheep in my own humble opinion, very ill calculated for a mountainous country, particularly thoſe to the ſouthward called Redwater ſheep, which are formed more like a fox than a ſheep. Indeed the fine herbage which theſe border hills every-where produce, ſupports theſe ſheep ſo well in ſummer as to enable them the better to ſtand the ſeverity of their winters. Great numbers of theſe ſheep are ſold in Yorkſhire when three years old, and when fed there upon turnips, &c. have the character of what the butchers call dying to their handling, and affording good eating mutton: their wool is ſo light as not to weigh more than 2½ or 3 lb. per fleece; however it fetches a pretty good price.—Colonel Selby of Paſton, in particular, who has paid much attention to his wool, generally ſells as high as 9 d. or 10 d. [Page 96] per pound. The wool of all this country, for want of home-manufactories, either goes to Scotland, even as far as Aberdeen and Peterhead, or into Yorkſhire, to Leeds, Bradford, &c. to the latter moſtly by land-carriage: But what is moſt extraordinary, a part of this wool, after being combed at Leeds, &c. returns into Scotland to be ſpun; then is conveyed back to be made into ſtuffs, a part of which once more returns to Scotland for the people to wear. However, the induſtrious North-Britons are now eſtabliſhing woollen manufactories in every corner, which I am well informed are patriotically ſupported by the firſt Nobility in Scotland; and it were to be wiſhed that the Nobility and Gentry in Northumberland would imitate ſo laudible an example. Such eſtabliſhments would in all probability very ſoon prevent theſe very expenſive and tardy conveyances.
[Page 97] All the low parts of Northumberland have a mixed breed of ſheep between the long kind, the Tees-water, and the Lincolnſhire;—in general a very tender, aukward, unprofitable breed, though much better than the kind they uſed to breed, which were properly enough called Mugs, and were no other I preſume than a larger kind of long ſheep, perhaps from their better keeping in the low-countries; for they were mugged or wool'd into the very eyes. Some remnants of this breed that I have ſeen, have their wool ſo grown about their eyes, that the poor animals could ſcarce ſee to eat or pick out the graſs. This mug or muff, by every breeder and grazier of experience in theſe days, is looked upon as a certain indication of a ſoft, tender, ſlow-thriving ſort, while the chearful open countenance, without any wool upon the [Page 98] face from the ears forward, (except what is called a topping), always denotes a kindly ſort, and quick feeder. However, ſince Mr Bakewell's breed has made its way into Northumberland, their ſheep are very much improved; and they can now not only make them fat at an earlier date, but help to ſupply Newcaſtle, Shields, and Sunderland, and all thoſe populous environs, with as fat mutton as either the county of Durham or Yorkſhire; and a vaſt quantity of fat ſheep (as well as lambs in the ſeaſon) are weekly ſold in Morpeth from the North†, [Page 99] which perhaps ranks the third market in England for quantity of ſtock ſold weekly or annually; Smithfield firſt, Wakefield ſecond, Morpeth third.
On both ſides the Tweed, the ſheep are much the ſame; but continue to grow worſe northward, until we reach that extent of barren country called Lammermuir, where the ſheep ſeem a mixture between the long and ſhort kinds, but moſtly inclined to the latter. From hence, all along that fine coaſt called the Lothians, you meet with no ſheep except a few to breed fat lambs from for Edinburgh-market:—For, our northern neighbours ſeem to have full employment for all their level fields to produce corn for home-conſumption. Even Fifeſhire, Angus, and the Mearns, afford few of theſe innocent creatures: And when we aſcend the Grampian Hills, we do not find them ſo plentifully ſtocked with [Page 100] ſheep, as the Southern Hills of this kingdom. Every-body who has viſited theſe mountains, muſt have perceived this to be owing to the paſturage being worſe in quality and leſs in quantity than the Southern Hills. It is here, however, that we firſt meet with the ſixth diſtinct breed of ſheep that we have noticed in this iſland. —I know nothing of the Devonſhire breed, called Dartmore Nats:—Nor was I ever in Cornwall, or very little in Wales; but moſt of the other parts I have been often in. And as it may add ſome weight to what has been ſaid of ſtock, particularly ſheep, which have always been my favourite or hobby-horſe, and to the breeding of which I have paid conſiderable attention for many years, I can aſſure my Readers, that I have repeatedly viſited moſt of the ſheep-breeding counties in England, eſpecially Lincolnſhire, [Page 101] and the adjoining midland counties, where I apprehend the beſt and moſt profitable kinds of our ſheep are bred, and where the breeders have been at more pains than in any other part of this iſland. Whatever croſſes I have ſeen from Lincolnſhire tupes, in general did harm, while on the contrary the Leiceſterſhire ones did great ſervice. It is true, the former generally improved the wool in weight, but conſtantly injured the carcaſe in form: the ſheep were longer in making fat, and the mutton worſe in quality.— The Lincolnſhire ſheep are in general a very tender kind, and unfit for moſt other countries.—Amongſt theſe attentive breeders I have ſpent weeks and months in different years, and uſed every fair means to gain information of the art and myſtery of breeding cattle and ſheep.—But, to return to the Mountains of Scotland—
[Page 102] The breed of ſheep we are about to deſcribe, differ from the others in the ſmallneſs of their ſize,—many of them, when fed, weighing no more than ſix, ſeven, or eight pounds per quarter.—I have heard that there is a breed of ſheep in Shetland, not more than three or four pounds per quarter; but the greateſt difference is in the faces of theſe, being a ſort of dunniſh or tanned colour, and the wool being variouſly mixed, and ſtreaked black, brown, red, and dun or tanned: they have no horns.—Dr Anderſon, the ingenious Author of the Eſſays on Agriculture, inclines to think that this breed is deſcended from or croſſed by the Spaniſh ſheep, which he ſuppoſes might be introduced when the Spaniſh Armada ſuffered upon theſe coaſts. Their mutton is very ſweet, and ſome of the wool exceedingly fine, which, with the variegated colours, [Page 103] ſtrengthens Dr Anderſon's opinion. However, I am much inclined to think them too tender and delicate a breed for theſe mountains; and ſhall not wonder if they are a few years afterwards drove out by that hardy race of mountaineers before deſcribed, and known by the title of Short-ſheep,—a breed, I apprehend, the beſt adapted of all others in Great Britain, for lingey or heathy mountains, and cold-expoſed ſituations;—and if ſo, what a pity they cannot be cloathed with a finer and more valuable fleece. There is no doubt but this might be improved, becauſe it is ſcarce poſſible to make it coarſer.—Some trials from the Diſhley-breed have been made about Moffat in Annandale, at the requeſt of that ſenſible and worthy Nobleman the Earl of Hopetoun; but I am very ſorry to hear, that notwithſtanding the influence [Page 104] and earneſt ſolicitations of his Lordſhip, the breeders are exceedingly averſe to it,—do and ſay every-thing they can to leſſen the merit of theſe trials,—and, like all ignorant people, are quite prejudiced againſt every kind of ſheep except their own. But, perhaps, the laudible and ſpirited endeavours of that active Nobleman his Grace the Duke of Buccleugh may have a better effect,—who, ever attentive to the good of his country, has alſo been making ſimilar trials amongſt his numerous tenants in the neighbourhood of Langholm. And if no other ſhould, I hope the induſtrious Mr Malcolm† will not leave this very important matter ſhort.
I HAD divided the ſheep into ſix diſtinct breeds only; but was adviſed to make the Herefordſhire ſheep a ſeventh ſpecies, though in my own humble opinion they are only a variation of the Dorſetſhire breed; and which variation has taken place from probably attending to the fineneſs of the wool, in preference to every-thing elſe: For, why might not this variation happen in the Dorſetſhire breed or kind by attending to fine light wool, as well as the Lincolnſhire have varied from their kind by attending to the growing of ſtrong heavy wool? If true in the one caſe, I ſee no reaſon why it may not in the other.—Indeed I have no doubt but the Tees-water or Durham ſheep, were originally from the ſame ſtock or tribe as the Lincoln-ſhire breed; but by attending to ſize, [Page 106] &c. rather than wool, they have, by purſuing that idea, become quite a different ſpecies or breed of the ſame kind.
But, to return to the Herefordſhire ſheep—As the late worthy Baronet Sir Charles Turner was ſo kind a few years ago as to incloſe me an account of this breed of ſheep and management from a gentleman in that county, I cannot do better than give it in his own words.
Queries.—What ſort of ground are the ſheep bred on?—How are the lambs wintered—on hay or green fodder?—At what age are the ſheep killed,—what weight of fleſh,—ditto of wool,—and common price?—How are the lambs ſummered—how the ſheep, whether on commons or incloſures?
[Page 107] "Any ſort of dry ſound land that is healthful for other ſheep: but this ſort will not require ſo good keep as large ſheep, and will pick the fallows cleaner; ſuppoſe double the quantity may be kept, either on fallow, ſtubble, or poor paſture-land."
"The lambs, when weaned from the ewes, about mid-ſummer, are put upon old clover and rye-graſs, or dry paſture-land, and wintered the ſame, except ſnow or very ſevere weather, when they have a little hay or peaſe-halm; obſerve, not to give the lambs very good keep after they have been from the ewes a month, till winter, when they will require a better keep, old clover, wheat ſtubble, or dry paſture; and the oftner their paſture is changed, the better."
"The wedders are generally put from the ſtore-ſheep at Michaelmas when they are paſt three years old, [Page 108] kept well the winter, and ſlaughtered fat the next ſummer at four years old. Some turn them to feed ſooner, but that is when the ſtock is too large for the keep. The ſheep certainly feed better at four years old than ſooner, and the fleſh better; indeed they are put to feed at any time of the year that ſuits the owner, but ſhould be near fat before winter, (or turned off to feed as above): then they are put to turnips or good dry paſture, and changed often; ſometimes kept in the houſe, and fed with hay and oats, with ſome water always in a trough by them; which laſt is expenſive, but the mutton excellent, the weight of the fleſh from 50 to 80 pounds. A Ryeland ſheep that will weight 50 lb. when good fair mutton, is often fed till he weighs 80 lb.—The ſtore-ſheep, that have the fineſt wool, are kept lean; and the ſtock together, upon an [Page 109] average, produce about 1¼ lb. each ſheep, worth about 18 d. or 20 d. per pound; laſt year it brought 2 s. per pound. The wedders produce from 2 to 3 lb. each, and worth from 15 to 18 d. per lb. If the ſtore-ſheep are better kept, they grow larger, and produce more wool, but inferior in quality."
"The lambs I have mentioned above, till they are a year old, when they will paſture with the flock; only they ſhould not be put in the ſheep-cott by night, and, if convenient, ſhould be kept a little better. The ſtore-ſheep, except yearlings and two-year-olds, upon the corn-farms; and where the wool is fineſt, are put in the ſheep-cott by night, and all the year round, and their cratches filled with peaſe-halm, wheat-ſtraw, barley-ſtraw, or any other dry food, which they eat and make dung of: the dung enables the farmers [Page 108] [...] [Page 109] [...] [Page 110] to raiſe good crops of barley, &c.; and the ſheep paſture by day, on old clover and rye-graſs, dry paſture, fallow, ſtubble, &c. but are always kept very lean, and graze quite ſhort: when there is not convenience of putting them in the ſheep-cott by night all the year, they do it from the beginning of winter till April or May, when the lambs are able to lie out by night. The ewes muſt be kept in by night at the eaning time, and when the lambs are very young, or the cold nights will kill the lambs, their wool is ſo very ſhort; but if they are healthy, at a week or fortnight old they will bear to be out at night."
"The ſheep are paſtured upon commons, open fields, or incloſures, provided the land is dry and healthy for ſheep, and when there is no conveniency of putting them in a ſheep-cott by night at caning time. The [Page 111] ſheep muſt not be quite the fineſt ſort of wool, but mixed with a ſtronger wool: it will then be more in quantity, though about 2 d. a pound leſs in value: and if the ewes can be out of doors, the lambs bear the cold better; but if they cannot be put in the houſe at that time, ſhould be ſeen often, and put where they are beſt ſheltered from the cold."
MR PYE, a Herefordſhire farmer, alſo told me that the ſtore or keeping-ſheep are put into cotts at night winter and ſummer; and in winter foddered in racks with peaſe-halm (ſtraw) barley-ſtraw, &c. in very bad weather with hay. Theſe cotts are low buildings quite covered over, and made to contain from one to five hundred ſheep, according to the ſize of the farm, ſheep-walk, or flock kept. The true Herefordſhire breed are properly [Page 112] called Ryeland ſheep, from the land formerly being thought capable of producing no better grain than rye, being a tract of very poor land, but now found capable of producing almoſt any kind of grain.—They give only 12½ lb. to the ſtone of wool, which was ſold laſt year (1784) for 24 s. and Mr Pye never remembered it being ſold for above 25 s. which is a higher price by much than any other wool I know of in theſe iſlands.
THERE is a polled breed of ſheep in Devonſhire, which may be an eighth ſort; but as I am unacquainted with them, ſhall ſay nothing more about them. They are called Dartmore Natts. Natt is to be underſtood for polled, humbled, or without horns.
IT is curious enough in travelling through the different counties in this [Page 113] iſland, how highly ſatisfied in general, and convinced, each ſeparate diſtrict is of having the beſt ſtock; for, according to the vulgar phraſe, every diſtinct county has 'the beſt in England.' Self-ſatisfied with this narrow illiberal idea, they reſt contented, without a wiſh for further improvement, until ſome one adventurer of a more enterprizing ſpirit than his neighbours, led on by an unknown impulſe, makes his way into a diſtant part of the kingdom, where he unexpectedly is ſtruck with a breed of neat-cattle or ſheep, &c. confeſſedly ſuperior to any at home, or that he had ever ſeen before. After a proper conſideration, he buys or hires ſome of theſe, benefits the neighbourhood where he lives, by the introduction of a more valuable breed of animals than they had hitherto been acquainted with, which by degrees ſpread themſelves through the country.
[Page 114] The Author cannot illuſtrate the above in a better or ſtronger manner, than by the relation of an anecdote concerning himſelf, which tho' diſgraceful at the period when it happened, proves the misfortune of a narrow education and illiberal ideas. "An elder brother of the Author's, and alſo bred to rural buſineſs more than twenty years ago, happened by chance to take a journey into the midland counties. On his return, he was relating with great candour how much better the ſheep were in Leiceſterſhire than any we had:—How, Sir, (replies the preſen. Writer in rather a contemptuous tone) will you pretend to ſay that there are any ſheep to be found ſo good as what we have in this neighbourhood? You muſt not make me believe this neither!—Well, Well, George, rejoins my elder and truly wiſer brother, I hope to be able to prevail on my father to allow you to [Page 115] go up next year, and I am not afraid but you will come home a convert. The fact was that George went, and not only returned a convert, but, like moſt turn-coats, a more zealous advocate for the new cauſe than the old one."—I beg the Reader's pardon for this digreſſion; but I was led to it by reflecting upon the abſurdity of narrow-minded people in all countries, and the hindrance it is to the progreſs of knowledge; for I am afraid there are many at this day as wedded and begotted to old miſtaken opinions as the Author was twenty-five years ago. But if the beſt and wiſeſt of men have been unable to remove the prejudices and obſtinate opinions of mankind, it may be aſked, what right has one farmer to expect to correct the errors of his brethren, be he ever ſo deſirous? I anſwer, as the intention is good, it is to be hoped that it may have ſome effect.
[Page 116] But, as a confirmation of what I have been ſaying, allow me to acquaint you with the abſurd opinions of many of our more ſouthern breeders, from whom we ſhould reaſonably have expected better, as being nearer the metropolis, from whence we look for wiſdom and knowledge.
A Norfolk ſheep-breeder ſays, ſheep ſhould be black-faced, and black-legged, and that their horns ſhould come out forward, and turn in ſuch a manner as you can ſee the ears through or behind the circle of the horns.—A Wiltſhire ſheep-breeder, on the contrary, ſays, that ſheep ſhould have white faces, and white legs, and that their horns ſhall come out backwards, in ſuch a manner that the ears may be ſeen before the horns.—But a Suſſex breeder inſiſts upon it that they are both wrong; becauſe ſheep ſhould be grey-faced and grey-legged, [Page 117] and have no horns.—Thus you ſee how perfectly different theſe noted people are in their opinions; and they ſurely cannot all be right, though they moſt aſſuredly think ſo. But the counties are not more variable in appearance, than the breeders are in opinion; opinions founded in abſurdity, and repugnant to every principle of common ſenſe. Nay, I was told that the coming out of the horns an inch nearer, or an inch further from the ears of a ram, made at leaſt five guineas difference in his price.
On aſking a butcher's wife at Bury in Suffolk, how ſhe ſold mutton?—Fivepence per lib. Sir, anſwered ſhe ſmartly. And pray, replied I, rather ſurpriſed at the high price, have you no mutton below fivepence? O yes, Sir, rejoins the honeſt woman, plenty of Lincolnſhires at 4 d. and 4½ d.; but we do not account it mutton when compared [Page 118] with our Norfolk or Suffolk mutton. And if I dare ſpeak out my poor opinion, they would neither of them be accounted mutton in many markets even further North in this iſland; the Lincolnſhire, on account of its coarſeneſs, the other on account of the thinneſs, and both for having too much bone in proportion to the meat. For I aver, that no large-boned animal will feed ſo quick, or cover ſo readily and thick with muſcular fleſh, as one with a ſmall bone, if well formed. This is the criterion,—this is the main principle that we found our judgment upon reſpecting all animals which are to be fatted for the ſlaughter or the conſumption of mankind; and we can juſtly ſay, that this judgment is confirmed by more than thirty years experience. But, notwithſtanding this aſſertion is made with ſome degree of poſitiveneſs, yet we are not unconſcious [Page 119] of its being a new doctrine to the generality of the breeders in this iſland, and conſequently will appear ſurpriſing and ſtrange to many old breeders and graziers or feeders. But I have not a remaining doubt, if they will only make fair candid trials, the ſmall bones will win or gain the prize nine times out of ten, or rather every time. Nay I am inclined to think that the fine ſmall-boned true proportioned animal will pay 3½ d. perhaps 4 d, while the big-boned one will only pay 3 d. for what it eats, and in that proportion. When I aſſert this, I would wiſh to be underſtood that I mean from the time of calving or lambing, to the time of killing for the market; becauſe, permit me to ſay, that I look upon the grazier who buys in and feeds, and he that breeds and feeds thoſe he breeds, as two very different people. It is the latter of [Page 120] theſe that the world is obliged to for thoſe nice but valuable diſtinctions of ſmall-boned animals excelling large-boned ones in feeding. He ſees, watches, and examines the various puſhes and improvements from the beginning to the ending; while the grazier who buys in his ſtock, is eaſy in a great meaſure how they are bred, ſo long as they pay him for feeding. A plain coarſe ugly animal may pay him more than a fine well-made one, becauſe he buys the coarſe one at much leſs price in proportion, and it is of little conſequence to him as an individual: But, to his country, to the community at large, it is a matter of prodigious importance, much more than has in general been thought of; becauſe the more meat and leſs bone you can produce from a given quantity of paſturage of turnips, cabbage, &c. the better ſurely, and the more [Page 121] mouths you muſt feed.—Well, but give me leave to return for a few moments to the Norfolk or Suffolk mutton, or indeed any of theſe ſheep that are to be met with in moſt of the ſouthern counties; I mean all thoſe that are formed more like deer than ſheep. Do not be ſurpriſed when I tell you, that a perſon who has been bred amongſt the ſheep in the midland counties, I mean the long-wool'd polled ſheep in general, and had never ſeen any of theſe deer-like ſheep, until by accident a drove happens to paſs the country where he lives, would never take them to be ſheep, but would ſuppoſe them to be a ſpecies bred between the goat, the deer, and ſome foreign ſheep; for their legs are ſo very long, and their bodies ſo exceedingly ſmall, which, with their large horns and low necks, gives them an appearance altogether uncouth, and totally different from the [Page 122] polled ſheep with long wool. Laſt winter, 1784, we meaſured the horns of ſome of the Norfolk and Suffolk rams, and found them from 35 to 37 inches long following the turn of the horn, and 9 or 9½ round at the root or ſetting on at the head; and indeed a very formidable appearance ten or a dozen of theſe animals make together.
Well, but we were told that theſe long-legged long ſmall-bodied ſheep are poſſeſſed of many good qualities that the long-wool'd ſheep are not.— In the firſt place, they are better travellers; which I will not deny, for many flocks travel a round of three, four, or five miles every day from and to the fold again. This I am willing to believe, and it may alſo be very right; but as I never conſidered exerciſe conducive to feeding, tho' it may to health, I ſhall not adopt this idea. They may want them to live long; and [Page 123] if ſo, they are right to give them proper exerciſe. Our's, on the contrary, we wiſh to be fat as ſoon as poſſible, or in fact never to be lean if we can help it, conſequently do not care how little exerciſe they get.—2dly, They ſay theſe ſheep are leſs ſubject to the itch than our's. This may alſo be true; and from the ſmall quantity of wool they grow, I ſhould think them eaſier cured of that diſorder.—3dly and laſtly, They excel our's in quantity and richneſs of gravy, what they call claret-coloured gravy. This I alſo give up: nor do I envy them in this mutton at all; for in proportion as your mutton is fat or lean, in ſuch ratio I believe will be the gravy; the more lean, the blacker or claret-coloured; the fatter the mutton, the lighter coloured and more oil among the gravy: in ſhort, the more deer-like the ſheep are, as I ſaid before, or the more they incline [Page 124] to veniſon, I believe the higher coloured the gravy is; and on the contrary, the more they incline to mutton, the lighter coloured and more oil. And further, the gravy-mutton is always open-grained and porous; the fat mutton, on the contrary, cloſe-grained and firm.
And now, Mr Reader, you ſhall be proprietor or landlord; I your tenant and ſheep-breeder, and that in fact is my ſituation. I will not object to your keeping and eating that kind of mutton; and I am ſure you will wiſh better to your tenant than find fault with him for breeding and feeding the fat kind with oily gravy: For theſe obvious reaſons, becauſe you have no rent to pay;—I have; therefore, tho' you may indulge your palate with claret-coloured gravy, I am ſure you will indulge me with the fat gravy and ſolid meat for myſelf and family, [Page 125] that the plowmen may be able to work for turnips to feed more of this fat mutton; but above all, that I may be able to pay my rent, and keep the wolf from the door. The fact is, Mr Reader, or Mr Landlord, that while the veniſon mutton pays threepence for breeding and feeding, the other will pay fourpence. And until you, Gentlemen, will make it our intereſt to produce the former, we certainly ſhall produce the latter; becauſe it clearly is, and ever will be the intereſt of the farmer and breeder, to purſue that mode which turns to the beſt account, that culture which produces the moſt profitable crops, and to produce thoſe animals which pay the moſt for what they cat. Aſk the pitman, the keelman, the wool-comber, the weaver, the fabricators of metals, and all thoſe various but valuable claſſes of manufacturers which abound in different [Page 126] parts of this iſland, which of the two kinds of mutton they prefer? Would they not readily anſwer, Take you the lean meat, large-boned, and black gravy, but give us the ſmall-boned fat with oil ſwiming in the diſh? And are not theſe the men that make the greateſt conſumption in fat mutton, beef, &c.?
On going to market one day to ſell our fat ſheep, I was overtaken by a Gentleman from Scotland. Farmer, ſaid the Gentleman, you make your ſheep ſo fat that I could not eat the mutton. It matters not, Sir, replied I, becauſe we have plenty of cuſtomers for this kind of mutton; and allow me to ſay, it is very happy that the great conſumption does not depend upon ſuch as you. Upon my word, Sir, ſaid he, I believe you are very right. In exact proportion as your breed of ſheep approaches to the fat [Page 127] kind, the mutton is not only marbled or mixed with fat in the lean or lyer, but the mutton is covered with fat over every part. On the contrary, the other ſort only covers with fat very partially on particular places, and little or none mixed with the lean: if it did, it would be a misfortune, becauſe the gravy would be ſpoiled.
But I had almoſt forgot one reputed excellence of the gravy ſheep: It is ſaid they die fuller of fat on the inſide. I grant they do; but diſpute its being an excellence upon the whole. I will endeavour to explain myſelf.— It is a well-known fact to all experienced feeders or graziers, that thoſe animals which lay the fat on quickeſt on the outſide, have the leaſt within in proportion; but then they are the very ſort that pay the moſt for keeping; and conſequently, that ſort that pay the moſt for keeping, though [Page 128] they have the leſs fat on the inſide, excel thoſe that have more fat within, in exact proportion as they pay more in a given time for what they eat.—But ſome will ſay the butcher has the moſt profit upon thoſe that tallow beſt, or lay the fat within. I ſay not; becauſe if you will allow the butcher the ſame profit upon the quick feeders, or thoſe that put the fat on the outſide, he will always buy theſe, becauſe he can ſell two joints for one: and ſurely you can better afford to do this to the butcher.—But the fact is, the butcher can always buy theſe lean lumbering coarſe animals, that lay little fat without, and much within, for ſo much leſs per ſtone that they afford him a profit. But ſurely this can be no inducement to either breeding or feeding them; conſequently no excellence, but the contrary. Perhaps ſome Readers may [Page 129] think I have dwelt longer upon theſe dry diſquiſitions than was neceſſary; but I flatter myſelf the experienced Reader will excuſe me, when he reflects of what great importance it is to the community at large, and individuals in particular, to breed uſeful rather than unuſeful animals.—I confeſs this conſideration made me very ſolicitious to impreſs the idea ſtrongly upon the minds of my brother breeders: For, if one ſpecies of wheat, of oats, barley, or of turnips, &c. are better worth propagating than another, ſurely it will hold good in animals; and there can be no doubt that the more it is conſidered, the more it will be attended to.
I will beg leave to make a few remarks on beef and mutton when expoſed to ſale in pieces on the ſhambles or ſtall.—When we conſider that the [Page 130] difference between what is called the coarſe and fine, or the beſt and worſe parts of beef when cut up, is not leſs than one hundred per cent. of what vaſt conſequence then muſt it be to the breeder to propagate thoſe cattle that have the greateſt proportion of theſe valuable parts! And if I am right in what I ſaid before, it will follow, that the ſmall-boned true-proportioned cattle are the very ſort that produce more fine than coarſe, that lay their fat upon the valuable parts, and always feed in much leſs time than the big-boned coarſe ſort.
But it is not ſo with mutton: the difference in value between one joint of mutton and another is ſcarce worth naming. In different parts of the kingdom, they give a preference to particular joints; but the variation is ſeldom more than a farthing or halfpenny per pound at moſt. Nevertheleſs [Page 131] it is ſtill right for the breeder to purſue that ſpecies which pay moſt for what they eat; and theſe, I apprehend, will always be found to be the ſmall-boned true-formed ſheep, as deſcribed before: For, they not only produce the fineſt-grained mutton, but more of it in a given time, in proportion to offal, than any other ſort of ſheep I know of.—But in ſpeaking of offal here, I would be underſtood to mean further than what the butchers generally do. By offal they mean hide and tallow only in neat cattle, or ſkin and tallow in ſheep, and ſo on: But by offal in this place, I would take in not only hide or ſkin, and tallow, but bones, horns, pelts in ſheep†, blood, guts, and garbage, and even wool and hair. And, however new the idea, [Page 132] I believe it will in general be found, that the truer and finer the form of an animal, the better quality and greater the quantity of fleſh when fatted; and in proportion, not only leſs hide or ſkin and tallow, but leſs bone, horn, pelt, blood, guts, and garbage, and even wool and hair: And on the contrary, the clumſier and coarſer the form, the fleſh will in general be of a worſe quality and leſs in quantity when fatted; and in exact proportion, not only more hide or ſkin and tallow, but more bone, horn, &c.
Upon this principle, ſuppoſe two bullocks or two ſheep are fatted together, no matter whether upon paſture, clover, turnips, or what you pleaſe, the one as remarkable for coarſeneſs as the other for fineneſs, or in any proportion you will, it will always hold good in that proportion; and admitting the coarſe one eats only [Page 133] as much as the other, tho' I have no doubt of his eating more, ſtill a conſiderable part of his food muſt go to the ſupport of more hide or pelt, bones, &c. while the other's food is principally converted into animal fleſh; which fleſh, on an average, call only worth 3 d. per lib. I am afraid the horns, bone, pelt, &c. are not worth above a farthing per lib. conſequently a very great loſs to the community. Indeed the hide of a bullock is ſometimes worth as much per lib. as his fleſh; and particularly firm ſtrong hides, what are generally called leather hides, are worth more, perhaps 6 d. per lib; but then theſe very thick hides almoſt generally cover a very ſlow-feeding carcaſe. And tho' the coarſe hairy wool is always worth ſomething per lib. yet that coarſe hairy wool cannot grow but upon a thick gummy pelt, which neceſſarily [Page 134] covers a coarſe-grained ſlow-feeding carcaſe of mutton. The pelt itſelf, tho' perhaps from 15 to 25 lib. weight, (nay ſome have been known to weigh 30 lib. or more), not worth more than 2 d. or 3 d.; for the thinner the pelt, the more valuable.
THE folding of ſheep in many parts of this iſland, is looked upon as a matter of conſiderable conſequence to the farmer. I confeſs I cannot ſee it in ſo advantageous a light; but as it is a matter I have not experienced in a very great degree, I would be cautious of condemning a practice ſo univerſally uſed in many of the ſheep-breeding counties in this kingdom. However, ſo far as we can go with ſafety, we may venture to make a few obſervations; and theſe obſervations I would wiſh to be underſtood as reſpecting ſingle farms only, excluſive [Page 135] of any right of commonage, or adjacent open fields, &c.—If your farm is incloſed, or put only into ſhifts, or any other diviſions, it matters not, we muſt ſuppoſe your flocks depaſtured upon ſome part of the farm, for inſtance ſay the field A, and are folded every night upon B: Now, I think in proportion as they enrich B, they muſt rob or impoveriſh A; or if they eat all day upon the field C, and lodge at night in D, it is the ſame thing, and ſo on wherever they eat and ſleep. Only I will admit it a convenience, and a preſent advantage, that ſuppoſing B field fallow and intended for turnips, &c. while perhaps you have not a ſufficiency of manure to ſpread upon it all; in that caſe, folding your ſtore-ſheep upon the fallow, is perhaps getting you a crop of turnips where they might not otherwiſe be had; for well I know, that it is not eaſy to get [Page 136] turnips upon many grounds without manure; and this matter we frequently have practiſed, tho' ſtill it is ‘robbing the church to thatch the choir.’ But if you have a common or open field near, be doing with all my heart, and rob on, for ſomebody will be doing it for you if you do it not. However, if the common, open field, &c. be at a conſiderable diſtance, you perhaps loſe as much as you gain; for, marching ſheep to and from their paſture ſeveral miles every day, muſt neceſſarily hurt them much; and if this is to be the caſe, I ſuppoſe the deer-like thin ſheep may be the beſt for this purpoſe, as being probably better able to bear the fatigue of travelling day by day. Nevertheleſs, the polled long-wool'd ſheep are employed on this ſervice in different parts of this iſland.
The ſheep-breeders upon the Yorkſhire Wolds, fold theſe kind of ſheep [Page 137] on their fallows, in many places, from Ladyday to Michaelmas. Likewiſe, a particular friend of mine, Mr Benjamin Sayle of Wentbridge near Doncaſter, folds his ewe-flock upon both graſs and fallow, and travels them about three miles a-day:—and few people I believe have ſhewn fatter ſheep than he has; his ewes when fatted after having been folded while a breeding flock, as well as the deſcendents of theſe ewes. It is no uncommon thing for Mr Sayle to ſell his fat ewes in the latter end of May and in June, in Wakefield market, from thirty-ſix to forty ſhillings apiece, without the wool: and I hope he will excuſe me, when I ſay that this ſame ſpirited breeder has given Mr Bakewell as high as fifty guineas for the uſe of a ram for one ſeaſon only.
I ſhould not have taken the liberty of ſaying ſo much of this reſpectable [Page 138] breeder, and his valuable ſheep; but becauſe I do think he has more merit than any other ſheep-breeder I know of, on account of breeding the moſt valuable ſheep in proportion to the land they are bred upon: For everybody that knows Wenthill will admit that there are very few worſe ſheep-walks in England, where polled ſheep are kept; and thoſe that know it not, will, I am perſuaded, find it ſo on enquiring. In my own opinion, the merit of the Diſhley or Mr Bakewell's breed, has not in many places been more fully proved than under the management of Mr Sayle. It is true that they have been moſt ſucceſsfully tried in much colder ſituations, and ſome hundreds of miles further north, but in no place I know of where the ſummer paſture is of ſo bad a kind of herbage.
In ſpeaking of the importance of improving the breed of theſe animals [Page 139] we have been treating of, ſome of my friends, in the warmth of their hearts, have been led to ſay, that if thoſe animals were improved everywhere in this iſland to ſuch a pitch as we find them (I am ſorry to ſay) in a few hands only, and every corner of the cultivable parts of this iſland managed in the ſame ſpirited garden-like manner that we meet with in ſome ſmall diſtricts here and there, Great Britain would be made capable of ſupporting three times the number of inhabitants as at preſent. But, without being too ſanguine, ſuppoſe we could ſupport only twice as many more, if inſtead of ten we could maintain twenty millions of people, only think what an amazing affair it would be! and that this might be done in time there can be but little doubt, very little doubt indeed.
If to the moſt ſpirited cultivation of the ground, and moſt approved [Page 140] methods of breeding the animals we have been recommending, equal attention was paid to floating, flooding, or watering of graſs-grounds in every part of this iſland, wherever the ſituation will admit, perhaps I ſhall not advance too much if I ſay that there are very few parts of this iſland but may in ſome degree be benefited by this moſt uſeful, though I am afraid hitherto little underſtood improvement, eſpecially in the north parts of this kingdom: And many parts might have water conveyed over them, on a very extenſive ſcale, and to very great advantage; for, every little brook or rivulet is capable of being thrown over the adjoining grounds more or leſs in proportion to their deſcent; the more deſcent, the more land you can overflow.
This matter will perhaps appear of greater magnitude than people in general [Page 141] are aware of, the more it is examined; for I apprehend it may be ſaid to lay the foundation of moſt improvements in agriculture, and to be the main ſpring to all the reſt: becauſe, if manure is accounted the primum mobile in huſbandry, (and few people I believe will deny the truth of the obſervation), I apprehend it will be found that this ſame watering of the ground is, and may be made the ſource of more valuable manure than any-thing elſe I know of. But what renders it ſtill more ineſtimable is, that it draws this manure from materials which without this proceſs would be entirely loſt, or next to it; becauſe thoſe riches that are productive of ſuch aſtoniſhing effects as the turning water over land has, are conveyed unobſerved down thoſe ſtreams to the ſea, and conſequently loſt in that vaſt collection of waters. Now, the watering of land [Page 142] in a proper manner, not only raiſes an amazing crop of hay, but ſpring-eatage and lattermath, ediſhes, fog, or foggages, as they are differently called in different parts of this iſland. This hay again properly conſumed, makes a large annual return in dung or manure, which you can employ to great advantage on ſuch parts of your farm as moſt need it; becauſe your watered meadow requires no other help but repeating the ſame proceſs as often as neceſſary, while it repays your expence and toil in the moſt grateful manner, by plentiful and certain crops of hay year after year, and, inſtead of exhauſting, becomes richer, or more productive.
I am well informed, that upon the watered meadows in Somerſetſhire, they calculate twenty ſhillings per acre upon the ſpring-catage; then grow a ton and a half or two tons [Page 143] of hay upon each acre, beſide the lattermath or after-eatage. The way they reckon is this: An acre will keep eight ewes and lambs, which, at ſixpence per week each couple, is four ſhillings: they eat it five weeks before laying it in for meadow, which makes the twenty ſhillings a decent return; this excluſive of all the reſt.
But in many of the ſouthern and ſouth-weſtern counties, they employ water upon their lands to as much advantage as in Somerſetſhire.— At Diſhley, Mr Bakewell has improved a conſiderable tract of poor cold land, beyond any-thing I ever ſaw, or could have conceived, by this ſame mode of improvement;— and, ever ready to communicate his knowledge to the Public, he has left proof-pieces in different parts of his meadows, in order to convince people of the great importance and utility of [Page 144] this kind of improvement:—Particularly, in one part he has been at the pains to divide a rood of ground into twenty equal diviſions, viz. two perches in each piece. It is ſo contrived that they can water the firſt, and leave the ſecond unwatered; or miſs the firſt, and water the ſecond; and ſo on through all the 20 diviſions: by which contrivance, you have the faireſt and moſt unequivocal proofs of the good effect of improving ground by watering. And as Mr Bakewell is ſo kind as ſhew this experimental part to any Gentleman, I cannot help thinking it well worth the while of the curious, and thoſe that have leiſure, to viſit this extraordinary place, where they will ſee many things worthy their attention and inſpection beſide watering meadows. And thoſe that wiſh to know the art of watering land without going to ſee it, will do well to [Page 145] read Mr George Boſwell's Treatiſe on watering meadows, low lands, &c. where they will ſee that matter explained in a very ſatisfactory manner.
It is totally out of my way to meddle with political matters; but I hope I ſhall not advance too much when I ſay that it would perhaps turn to much better account, if inſtead of planting colonies, and conquering provinces, our Great Folks would turn their attention not only to the improvement of our Fiſheries, but in promoting the cultivation of every acre of cultivable land in theſe kingdoms, as well as the improvement of the moſt valuable breeds of animals. And in order to promote this matter to its greateſt extent, it would be proper to have experimental farms in one or more parts of theſe iſlands, at the expence of Government, with proper ſuperintendants, and ſervants under [Page 146] them, to make every conſiſtent trial in the various walks of cultivation, ſo as to aſcertain which are the beſt modes; as well as a breeding farm or farms, under proper regulations, ſo as to aſcertain, by proper trials and compariſons, which are the moſt valuable animals, and beſt worth attending to by our farmers and breeders in their different ſituations, in every part of theſe iſlands; becauſe if we put the lands in this iſland into four diviſions, viz. from nothing to five ſhillings per acre, from five to ten ſhillings, from ten to fifteen, and from fifteen to twenty, ſuppoſing whatever is above the laſt rent to be adapted rather to grazing than breeding and cultivation: This being the ſuppoſed caſe, we can only have occaſion for four different ſpecies of neat cattle and ſheep.—But ſome may naturally enough ſay, that there are variety of ſoils, ſuch as clay [Page 147] and ſand, &c. We will ſay, that they will require five or ſix different ſpecies of ſtock: but if I was to hazard a conjecture, I ſhould incline to think that it will be found upon trial even fewer ſtill will do. But whoever is acquainted with, or has attended to the varieties of ſtock in this iſland, will find, (I will venture to ſay) inſtead of five or ſix ſpecies of neat cattle or ſheep, five or ſix and twenty variations or more of both kinds. Nevertheleſs I dare ſay my intelligent Readers will admit, that the ſame kinds of ſtock which will do upon the mountainous and high parts of Scotland, will alſo do upon the mountainous and high parts of Wales and England. Likewiſe, thoſe ſorts which ſuit the lower hills of Scotland and the north of England, will alſo ſuit in Wales; and I ſhould imagine on the Yorkſhire and Lincolnſhire Wolds, as well as [Page 148] the Downs on the South of England: For, I apprehend, downs and wolds are only different names for the ſame kind of riſing grounds: And ſurely thoſe ſorts of ſtock which will anſwer the end beſt in the low-lands, plains, or campaign parts in one quarter of the iſland, will alſo anſwer the end beſt in thoſe parts in every other quarter.—If this train of reaſoning be juſt, it would ſeem as though we ſhall only have occaſion for a very few variations of ſtock: and what theſe variations ſhould be, I apprehend attention and application, joined to a few years experience, will alone diſcover†/
SWINE are the fourth kind of domeſtic animals which we deſign here treating of.—Theſe creatures, though in many reſpects diſagreeable, are of conſiderable importance to the community at large, and to farmers in particular: And in no inſtance perhaps has Nature ſhewn her oeconomy more than in this race of animals, whoſe ſtomachs ſeem a receptacle for every-thing that other creatures refuſe, [Page 150] or but for theſe would be frequently entirely waſted. They induſtriouſly gather up, and greedily devour, what would otherwiſe be troden under foot and waſted. The refuſe of the fields, the gardens, the barns, and the ſcullery, to them is a feaſt.
The moſt numerous breed of hogs in this iſland, is that excellent kind generally known by the name of the Berkſhire Pigs, now ſpread through almoſt every part of England, and ſome places of Scotland. They are in general rediſh-brown, with black ſpots upon them, large ears hanging over their eyes, ſhort-legged, ſmall-boned, and exceedingly inclined to make readily fat. The ſurpriſing weight that ſome of theſe hogs have been fed to, would be altogether incredible if we had it not ſo well atteſted.—Mr Young, in one of his Tours, gives an account of one in Berkſhire, which [Page 151] was fed to eighty-one ſtone ſome odd pounds, which I had often before heard of when in the South of England. But as I was ſome time ago favoured by a correſpondent, with an account of an extraordinary pig which was killed in Cheſhire, I will beg leave to tranſcribe it in his own words. 'On Monday the 24th of January 1774, a pig fed by Mr Joſeph Lawton of Cheſhire was killed, which meaſured from the noſe to the end of the tail, three yards eight inches, and in height four feet five inches and a-half: when alive, it weighed 12 cwt. 2 qrs. 10 lib.; when killed and dreſſed, it weighed 10 cwt. 3 qrs. 11 lib. or 86 ſtones 11 lib. averdupoiſe. This pig was killed by James Waſhington butcher at Congleton in Cheſhire.'
There was a breed of large white pigs, with very large cars hanging over their eyes, which a few years ago [Page 152] were very common in many parts of Yorkſhire and Lancaſhire. They were very plain thin aukward hogs, with very long legs; but what diſtinguiſhed them more, was two wattles or dugs not unlike the teats of a cow's udder, which hung down from their throats one on each ſide. But this unprofitable kind have now almoſt every-where given place to the more valuable breed which we have juſt been ſpeaking of, and which, like Aaron's rod, bids fair to ſwallow up all the reſt. Indeed the Chineſe or black breed will always be valuable, eſpecially for roaſting pigs and porkets; and though they do not feed to any great weight, yet they fatten amazingly faſt, and afford the ſweeteſt bacon, which has gained the preference every-where amongſt the nice-eating people. Indeed thoſe that have not been accuſtomed to the very fat bacon in the ſouthern and midland [Page 153] counties, the very ſight of it is enough to a perſon with a very delicate ſtomach, who cannot behold the very fat part of it without almoſt ſickening, while the people in thoſe counties eat it all times of the day: I have frequently ſeen them breakfaſt upon it.
The black breed are deſervedly in great eſteem, and would be much more ſo if they were not ſuch a miſchievous race: for, the moſt attentive herding (or tenting as they call it in ſome parts of the South) can ſcarcely keep them from your fields of corn, peaſe, or potatoes; nothing will ſecure them, except walls or good paling.
I know of only one other breed of pigs in theſe iſlands that I have obſerved, and theſe are the Highland or Iriſh breed, a kind no otherwiſe worth naming but for diſtinction's ſake; for I am perſuaded whoever is acquainted with the Berkſhire or black breeds, [Page 154] will never throw thoſe aſide for theſe: They are a ſmall thin-formed animal, with briſtles ſtanding up from noſe to tail, and exceeding bad thrivers. We met with conſiderable herds of them upon the muirs in different parts of the Highlands of Scotland, picking up the wild berries, eſpecially about Thurſo in Caithneſs.
I have ſeen the ſame kind of pigs in different parts of Ireland. It is a little extraordinary that the people of that very fine fertile iſland, ſhould not have hitherto paid more attention to the breeding of ſtock.—I have juſt mentioned their pigs: their cattle I took ſome notice of before; therefore ſhall beg leave to add a few words in this place in regard to their ſheep, a pretty large ſample of which I ſaw at the great fair of Ballinaſloe, where the collector of the tolls told me that there were 95,000 ſhewn at that time, and [Page 155] that there had often been more. But I am ſorry to ſay, that I never ſaw ſuch ill-formed ugly ſheep as theſe: the worſt breeds we have in Great Britain are by much ſuperior. One would almoſt imagine that the ſheep-breeders in Ireland have taken as much pains to breed plain aukward ſheep, as many of the people in England have to breed handſome ones. I know nothing to recommend them except their ſize, which might pleaſe ſome old-faſhioned breeders who can get no kind of ſtock large enough. But I will endeavour to deſcribe them, and leave my Readers to judge for themſelves. —Theſe ſheep are ſupported by very long, thick, crooked grey legs; their heads long and ugly, with large flaging ears, grey faces, and eyes ſunk; necks long, and ſet on below the ſhoulders; breaſts narrow and ſhort, hollow before and behind the ſhoulders; [Page 156] flat-ſided, with high narrow herring-backs; hind-quarters drooping, and tail ſet low. In ſhort, they are almoſt in every reſpect contrary to what I apprehend a well-formed ſheep ſhould be; and it is to be lamented that more attention has not been paid to the breeding of uſeful ſtock in an iſland ſo fruitful in paſturage as Ireland. Indeed the ſame Mr Frenches mentioned before, and ſome other ſpirited breeders, have, at very great expence and hazard, imported both bulls, tupes, and ſtone-horſes from England; and very great improvements have already been made from theſe croſſes. I ſaw ſome of the deſcendents of theſe ſheep from the Engliſh rams at the above fair; and it is both extraordinary and pleaſing to ſee how much they exceeded the native breed. But a very great bar is put in the way of theſe iſlanders in the improvement of their [Page 157] ſheep: The ſame law is in full force againſt exporting ſheep into Ireland, as though they were to ſend them to our natural enemies on the Continent. I think it is a real hardſhip that this diviſion of his Majeſty's ſubjects cannot have the benefit of improving their breed of ſheep, without ſmuggling them over. Application was made to Lord Harcourt when Lord-Licutenant of Ireland, for leave to ſend rams over to Ireland from England, offering very high ſecurity, three or four times the value of the ram, for his being returned into England, or, in caſe of death, a proper certificate to be produced along with his ſkin, ear-marks, &c. but without effect.— However, to ſhow that the fault is not in the Iriſh breeders; but, on the contrary, to prove that they are exceedingly deſirous to improve their breeds of ſtock by the help of thoſe [Page 158] from this iſland, even at an expence that many of our breeders in Great Britain would grumble at, I will lay before my Readers an authentic account of a ſtone-colt and ſome ſheep ſold at Ballinaſloe-fair in the county of Galway in Ireland, which was given by Mr French, a gentleman of fortune and character who lives in the neighbourhood of Ballinaſloe, to a particular friend of mine, who was ſo kind as to preſent it to me. They were ſold by auction in ſmall lots, the 5th of October 1770.
Since Mr French gave the above account to the Gentleman from whom I had it, I have had the pleaſure of ſeeing him in Ireland. I alſo met with Mr Johnſon, brother to the perſon who ſold the above goods, who gave me the ſame relation of this affair as Mr French did.
HAVING now, to the beſt of my knowledge, and according to what I propoſed, given an account of thoſe domeſtic animals, in the breeding of which our farmers are ſo deeply intereſted in particular, as well as the kingdom at large, I will beg leave to add a few general remarks before I proceed farther.
[Page 160] In the firſt place, then, it would ſeem that the largeſt domeſtic animals are not the beſt or moſt advantageous to the breeder and feeder: becauſe we generally find, that the large big-boned cattle and ſheep require more and better food in proportion to ſupport and feed them, than thoſe of a middling ſize and ſmall bones; and the larger, bigger boned, and clumſier they are formed, the more unprofitable they are; while on the contrary, the truer they are formed, and the finer the bone, the more profitable, as they not only take leſs food in proportion, but feed readier. The beef or mutton is finer-grained, and ſells higher by the pound: it is worth more to the conſumer than the other, becauſe it affords more and better fleſh, and leſs bone. Nay, and ſuppoſing the poor are under a neceſſity of buying the coarſe parts in a dear time, [Page 161] it is worth more to them in proportion than the coarſe of the large-boned ones; becauſe, tho' ſtill coarſe, it is finer than the others, and has leſs bone: in fact it is the cheapeſt and beſt eating to the rich, to the manufacturer, and to the poor.
Even in regard to horſes intended for the draught or ſaddle, thoſe I preſume are the beſt in general that are of the trueſt proportion in reſpect to bone, carcaſe, or form, and of a middling ſize. It may be admitted, that the great aukward lumbering horſes, from 16 hands to 18, may be the propereſt for drays or ſtage-waggons, &c. But we know that ſize is unfit for the ſaddle, the cart, or the plough; and where one is wanted for the former purpoſes, I ſuppoſe five are wanted for the latter: perhaps from 14 to 16 hands are the moſt ſerviceable, or, to come nearer, I fancy we [Page 162] ſhall find the beſt from 14 hands 2 inches to 15 hands 2 inches; but perhaps it is not very eaſy to aſcertain this to any great degree of exactneſs, nor may it be abſolutely neceſſary.
However, this I think we may venture to aſſert, that in thoſe kinds of animals now under our conſideration, and perhaps in moſt others, there is a certain ſymmetry or proportion of parts which are beſt adapted to a particular ſize in each kind. All thoſe of each kind that are above this pitch or ſize, we find diſproportioned according to the ſize they attain to; and in the degree that they are advanced beyond this line of perfection, we find them leſs active, leſs ſtrong in proportion, and always leſs able to endure hardſhip or fatigue. We find all great horſes tire ſooner than middling-ſized ones: they are ſlower in motion; [Page 163] they are more ſubject to diſorders or complaints, and conſequently wear ſooner out.
In cattle or ſheep we in general find the largeſt the tendereſt, moſt liable to complaints, require more and nicer fare, are ſlower in feeding, and worſe butcher-meat when fed: they ſtand winters or inclement ſeaſons much worſe than the well-proportioned ones. It is theſe well-proportioned handſome animals that we would recommend to the attention of the breeders to chooſe both males and females from if poſſible, or as near to them as may be. It perhaps has been owing to the idea of largeneſs, or the wiſh to breed the biggeſt in the different kinds of our domeſtic animals, that has ſo long prevented our breeders from ſelecting and diſtinguiſhing the moſt valuable kinds. For, ſo univerſal was this idea, and ſo much were we blinded by it, [Page 164] that we did not perceive which were the moſt valuable animals of each kind. We had no conception of any animal being valuable or good that was not great. We could not ſeparate thoſe two ideas of good and great. We did not attend to that ſymmetry and proportion which ſo eſſentially characteriſe the valuable kinds of each ſpecies, and which ſeldom or never fail of being the hardieſt, beſt able to bear fatigue, and the beſt thrivers. In ſhort, it was left to this age to make thoſe nicer diſtinctions which conſtitute the able breeder and diſcerning judge; which, the more they are attended to and examined, the more they will be purſued; and in conſequence of which improved notions, our breeders muſt now neceſſarily follow thoſe kinds that are moſt valuable.
Much has been ſaid of late years about ſhort-legged ſtock being the [Page 165] beſt, particularly cattle and ſheep: nothing would go down once but ſhort legs. That little ſhort-legged dwarfiſh breed of ſheep ſo much (tho' undeſervedly) run upon a few years ago, are very properly called by a conſiderable breeder, an acquaintance of mine, "the Gentlemen's ſheep;" for, though to thoſe who are not judges they have a pretty enough appearance, they will not bear examining by an attentive and able judge, I mean he who judges by his fingers as well as his eyes;—a method that is out of the Gentleman's line. Theſe originated in Lincolnſhire, but are now almoſt entirely diſuſed for very good reaſons.
I would wiſh to be cautious in contradicting a general notion or received prevailing opinion: But we ſometimes find the moſt prevailing opinions wrong. For inſtance, what [Page 166] we have juſt been obſerving of the largeſt and biggeſt-boned animals not being the beſt, tho' formerly thought ſo, and reſpecting ſhort legs: tho' I admit the propriety in a degree, I would wiſh to caution our breeders againſt the extreme. I would have them recollect the old proverb, that all extremes are wrong; and I would beg leave to obſerve, that the attentive breeders of this day have, I apprehend, made ſome notable and ſenſible diſtinctions in regard to theſe animals that muſt be fed and ſlaughtered for the uſe of mankind, viz. between what they call eſſentials and non-eſſentials. They give the former title to the back and ſides in particular, as well as the whole proportion of the carcaſe, always taking in the inclination to make fat. The non-eſſentials are the legs, ears, horns, tail, &c. and even wool and hides; for, tho' theſe [Page 167] are valuable in themſelves, yet they are more to be diſpenſed with than the back, ſides, &c.: For, thoſe breeders and graziers who keep their minds open to conviction, and reaſon coolly, ſay that they have ſeen good carcaſes with thick or thin hides, under long, ſhort, coarſe and fine wool, with long, ſhort, thick or thin horns or ears, &c.; but that they never ſaw a good carcaſe without the back broad and ſides round, or without that proportion or ſymmetry in the carcaſe which we have endeavoured to point out in our deſcriptions of the bull and ram. Nevertheleſs I muſt obſerve, that tho' they have given thoſe externals the denomination of non-eſſentials for diſtinction's ſake, they are not to be quite diſregarded; becauſe, notwithſtanding they are not ſo eſſential, yet they are very often ſtrong marks and indications of good or bad thrivers, &c. As for inſtance, a thick hide ſeldom [Page 168] covers a quick-feeding carcaſe, or a heavy fleece a ready-feeding or fine-grained caſe of mutton.—Again, fine ſmall and ſtraight bones in the legs are almoſt certain ſigns of a kindly breed, and fine-grained beef or mutton, &c. Thus we find the thick pelts and heavy wool in Lincolnſhire, cover the coarſeſt-grained mutton that we know of; while a variation of the ſame breed in Leiceſterſhire, highly improved, have conſiderably leſs wool, and very thin pelts, are quicker feeders, and mutton as fine-grained and ſweet as a mountain ſheep.
Tho' it may ſeem very extraordinary to the uncurious and unobſerving, yet it is a fact well known to the attentive breeder, that in general all our beſt and moſt valuable kinds of ſtock in England, are found upon the middling and worſt grounds, and not upon the beſt lands, as we ſhould naturally imagine: And the reaſons why [Page 169] it is ſo, are ſimple and obvious—Thoſe of the middling and indifferent tracts of country, are under the neceſſity of producing an induſtrious and thriving breed of animals: becauſe a large tender big-boned kind could not ſubſiſt upon their keeping, or the produce raiſed upon ſuch lands; while the good land makes up for every deficiency, or at leaſt ſo far blinds the imagination of the unthinking breeder, that he plumes himſelf upon having ſtock ſuperior to his induſtrious neighbours, while the merit conſiſts in the goodneſs of his land, and the richneſs of his paſturage and produce. Satisfied with his ſtock being the largeſt, he alſo concludes that they are the beſt; while his more active and induſtrious neighbour, from being ſituated in a leſs fertile ſoil, is obliged to ſeek out for a hardy thriving breed.—And this again makes me recur to the Lincolnſhire breeders, [Page 170] who have ſo long ſtuck to ſuch coarſe unprofitable kinds of ſtock, both cattle and ſheep, the paſturage in a great part of that county exceeding any other I am acquainted with in this iſland: For, what other county have we, poſſeſſed of ground that will thro' ſummer ſufficiently ſupport ſix, eight, and even ten large ſheep from 18 to 24 lib. a quarter, upon an acre, or one ox and five large ſheep?—Nay I was told by ſome Lincolnſhire farmers, when dining with them at Lowth, that near to Boſton (a place I never did viſit) there are ſome grounds which maintain 15 or 16 ſheep upon an acre all the ſummer†.
AS it may be expected from a Treatiſe on Live Stock, or Domeſtic Animals, that beſides horſes, neat cattle, ſheep, and ſwine, ſomething ſhould be ſaid on rabbits, mules, aſſes, goats, deer, and even poultry—For the ſake of method, then, I ſhall beg leave to ſay, that tho' theſe do come under the idea of domeſtic animals, yet I confeſs myſelf ſo totally unacquainted with their reſpective merits, that it would be very wrong in me to attempt a hiſtory of them. Indeed, as far as I know, few of them are of much importance to farmers in general, tho' in particular ſituations I believe they may be.
I know of large tracts of poor light ſoils in many different parts of this kingdom, that are employed in rabbit-warrens, and no doubt may be of great advantage to individuals, as well as to the community at large; for, both the fleſh and fur of theſe little creatures are of conſiderable value. I was told when in Lincolnſhire laſt year 1784, that many parts which had formerly been employed or ſtocked with rabbits, and then plowed for ſome years, were now again converted into rabbit-warrens, from their being convinced by experience that theſe little animals made a better return upon thoſe poor light ſoils than the plough. Indeed I was told that the fur of the rabbit was now much more valuable than ſome years ago; and the ſkins of the Lincolnſhire rabbits [Page 173] are particularly eſtimable, from their being moſtly ſilver-greys, the down being black, and white hairs nicely mixed.
MULES are undoubtedly very hardy creatures, uſeful in many ſituations, and probably well worth breeding by thoſe that underſtand them.—I very well remember, ſome years ago, in an excurſion through the low ſide of Yorkſhire, ſeeing a fine Spaniſh Aſs at Beverly, fourteen hands three inches high, kept as a ſtallion, and covered at no leſs than two guineas a mare.
ASSES, tho' I know little of them, yet their ill-treatment has often excited my compaſſion. Theſe poor creatures are abuſed and buffeted on all occaſions, put to the greateſt drudgery and hardſhips, and ſeem to be equally deſpiſed [Page 174] by man and beaſt. It is amazing how patiently they bear with the crueleſt treatment, and drag out a long life, though under unmerciful loads, and moſt barbarous uſage.
AS to goats, though I live in the neighbourhood of Wooler†, which is famous for goat-whey-drinking in the ſeaſon, and in which vicinity I ſuppoſe more are bred and kept than in any other part of England, yet I confeſs myſelf very ignorant of their hiſtory. I am told that ſome of the ſheep-breeders who occupy mountain farms, make a handſome profit by keeping goats, and ſending the whey [Page 175] down to Wooler in the ſeaſon, when ſeveral genteel people from both ſides the Tweed (as far as Newcaſtle one way, and Edinburgh the other) reſort thither in the months of May, June, and July, not only for the benefit of drinking the goat-whey, but the fine air, and angling in the pure limpid ſtreams that come pouring down from the mountains into a very fertile plain below. Kid is reckoned a very delicate kind of meat†.
I alſo know very little concerning deer:—But I ſuppoſe that the different ſpecies of theſe animals might be greatly improved, by the ſimple and plain rule of ſelecting the beſt males and beſt females, and breeding from theſe in preference to the promiſcuous methods which at preſent I am told are too much purſued: And I can have little doubt but that the beſt veniſon (as well as the beſt mutton, &c.) will always be found in the trueſt form, and along with the ſmalleſt and fineſt bone; and if ſo, how eaſy would it be for a Nobleman or Gentleman to order his game-keeper to chooſe out a few of the beſt males and females prior to the rutting ſeaſon, put them into a fenced place by themſelves, give the young ones a particular mark to know them from the promiſcuous race! and [Page 177] a few years will determine whether this matter be worthy of the attention recommended. I know great ſtreſs is laid upon the paſturage or herbage they feed upon, nor will I deny its effects in a degree; yet I apprehend a right choice of the moſt valuable males and females of any kind whatſoever, properly attended to, bred from, and the produce depaſtured along with the promiſcuous breed, will ſhew a much more conſpicuous effect.
OF the feathered tribe I acknowledge myſelf more ignorant than even of the quadrupeds I have been laſt treating. However, if I am rightly informed by people of nice palates, the ſmall-boned well-proportioned poultry, greatly excel the large-boned big kind, in taſte, fineneſs of fleſh, and flavour; and if this be the caſe, it [Page 178] would ſeem as though the ſame principle which we have all along endeavoured to eſtabliſh, held good through all the different claſſes of domeſtic animals which ſupply us with animal food, (viz.) That all animals of whatever kind, thoſe which have the ſmalleſt, cleaneſt, fineſt bones, are in general the beſt proportioned, and covered with the beſt and fineſt-grained meat. I believe they are alſo the hardieſt, healthieſt, and moſt inclinable to feed, able to bear the moſt fatigue while living, and worth the moſt per lib. when dead.