Open main menu
This page needs to be proofread.
820
SHEEP


name, a strictly local breed, which likewise exernplifythe good results of crossing with the Leicesters. The South Devons have a fairly fine silky fleece of long staple, heavier than that of the Devon Longwool, which it also excels in size. The Roscommon-the one breed of modern sheep native to ireland-is indebted for its good qualities largely to the use f Leicester blood. It is a big-bodied, high-standing sheep, varrying a long, wavy, silky fleece. It ranges mainly from the middle of Ireland westwards, but its numbers have declined considerably in competition with the Shropshire. The Kent or Romney Marsh is native to the rich tract of grazing land on the S. coast of Kent. They are hardy, white faced sheep, with a close-coated longwool fleece. They were gradually, like the Cotswolds, improved from the original type of slow-maturity sheep by selection in preference to the use of rams of the Improved Leicester breed. With the exception of the Lincoln, no breed has received greater distinction in New Zealand, where it is in high repute for its hardiness and general usefulness. When difficulties relating to the quantity and quality of food arise the Romney is a better sheep to meet them than the Lincolns or other long wools.

The Oxford Down is a modern breed which owes its origin to crossing between Cotswolds and Hampshire Downs and Southdowns. Although it has inherited the forelock from its longwool ancestors, it approximates more nearly to. the short wool type, and is accordingly classified as such. An Oxford Down ram has a bold masculine head; the poll well covered with wool and the forehead adorned by a topknot; ears self-coloured, upright, and of fair length; face of uniform dark brown colour; legs short, dark, and free from spots; back level and chest wide; and the fleece heavy and thick. The breed is popular in Oxford and other midland counties. Its most notable success in recent years is on the Scottish and English borders, where, at the annual ram sales at Kelso, a greater number of rams is auctioned of this than of any other breed, to cross with flocks of Leicester-Cheviot ewes especially, but also with Border Leicesters and three-parts-bred ewes. It is supplanting the Border Leicester as a sire of mutton sheep; for, although its progeny is slower in reaching maturity, tegs can be fed to greater weights in spring -65 to 68 lb per carcass-without becoming too fat to be classed as finest quality.

The Southdown, from the short close pastures upon the chalky soils of the South Downs in Sussex, was formerly known as the Sussex Down. In past times it did for the improvement of the short wool breeds of sheep very much the same kind of work that the Leicester performed in the case of the longwool breeds. A pure-bred Southdown sheep has a small head, with a light brown or brownish grey (often mouse-coloured) face, fine bone, and a symmetrical, well-fleshed body. The legs are short and neat, the animal being of small size compared with the other Down sheep. The fleece is of ine, close, short wool, and the mutton is excellent. “ Underhill ” flocks that have been kept for generations in East Anglia, on the Weald, and on flat meadow land in other parts of the country, have assumed aheavier type than the original “ Upperdown ” sheep. It was at one time thought not to be a rent-paying breed, but modern market requirements have brought it well within that category. The Shropshireis descended from the old native sheep of the Salopian hills, improved by the use of Southdown blood. Though heavier in fleece and a bulkier animal, the Shropshire resembles an enlarged Southdown. As distinguished from the latter, however, the Shropshire has a darker face, blackish brown as a rule, with very neat ears, whilst its head is more massive, and is better covered with wool on the top and at the sides. This breed has made rapid strides in recent years, and it has acquired favour in Ireland as well as abroad. It is an early-maturity breed, and no other Down produces a better back to handle for condition the frame is so thickly covered with flesh and fat. The Hampshire Down is another breed which owes much of its improved character to an infusion of Southdown blood. Early in the 19th century the old Wiltshire white-faced horned sheep, with a scanty coat of hairy wool, and the Berkshire Knot, roamed over the downs of their native counties. Only a remnant of the former underthe name of the Western sheep survives in a pure state, but their cross descendants are seen in the modern Hampshire Down, which originated by blending them with the Southdown. ' Early maturity and great size have been the objects aimed at and attained, this breed, more perhaps than any other, being identified with early maturity. One reason for this is the early dateat which=the ewes take the ram. Whilst heavier than the Shropshire, the Hampshire Down sheep is less symmetrical. It has <a black face and legs, a big head with Roman nose, darkish ears set well back, and a broad level back (especially over the shoulders) nicely filled in with lean meat. The Dorset Down or West Country Down, “ a middle type of Down sheep pre-eminently suited to Dorsetshire, " is a local variety of the Hampshire Down breed, .separated by the formation of a Dorset Down sheep society in 1904, about eighty years after the type of the breed had been established. The Sujolk is another Down, which took its origin about 1790 in the crossing of improved Southdown rams with ewes of the old black-face Horned Norfolk, a breed still represented by a limited number of animals. The characteristics of the latter are retained in the black face and legs of the Suffolk, but the horns have been bred out. The fleece is moderately short, the wool being of close, fine, lustrous hbre, without any tendency to mat. The limbs, -woolled to the knees and hocks, are clean below. Thei breed is distinguished by having the smoothest and' blackest face and legs of all the Down breeds and no wool on the head. Although it handles hard on the back when fat, no breed except the old Horned Norfolk equals it in producing fa saddle cut of mutton with such an abundance of lean red meat in proportion to fat. It carried off the highest honours in the dressed carcass competition at Chicago in 1903, and the championship in the “ block test ” at Smithfield Club Show was won for the hve years 1902-1906 by Suffolks or Suffolk cross lambs from big-framed Cheviot ewes. In IVQ07, the championship went to a Cheviot wether, but in the two pure, short-woolled classes all the ten awards were secured 'byl Suffolks, and in the two cross-bred wether classes nine of the ten awards went to a Suffolk cross. The mutton of all the Down breeds is of superior quality, but that of the Suffolk is pre-eminently so. p

The Cheviot takes its name from the range of hills stretching along the boundary between England and Scotland, on both sides of which the breed now extends, though larger types are produced in East Lothianandgin Sutherlanclshire. The Cheviot is a hardy sheep with straight wool, , of moderateglength and very close-Set, whilst wiry -white hair covers the face and legs. Put to the Border Leicester ram the Cheviot ewe produces the H all-bred, which as a breeding ewe is unsurpassed as a rent-paying, arable land sheep. ', ' I, L

The Scotch Black-face breed is chiefly reared in Scotland, but it is of N. of England origin. Their greater hardiness, as com~. pared with the Cheviots, has brought them into favour upon the higher grounds of the N. of England and. of Scotland, where they thrive upon heather hills and coarse and exposed grazing lands. Thecolour of face and legs is well-defined black and white, the black predominating. The spiral horns are low at the crown, with a clear space between the roots, and sweep in a wide curve, sloping slightly backwards, andclear of the cheek. The fashionable ileece is down to the ground, hairy and strong, and oi uniform quality throughout. 4 V,

The Lonk has its home amongst the moorlands of N. Lancashire and the W. Riding of Yorkshire, and it is the largest of the mountain breeds of the N. of England and Scotland. It bears most resemblance to the Scotch Black-face, but carries a finer, heavier fleece, and is larger inhead., Its face and legs are mottled black and white, and its horns are strong. The tail long and rough. The H erdwick is .the hardiest of all the breeds thriving upon the poor mountain land in Cumberland and Westmorland. -The rams sometimes have small, curved, wide horns like those of the Cheviot ram. The colour of the fleece is white, with a few darkish spots here and there; the faces and legs are dark in the

lambs, gradually becoming white or light grey in a few years.