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549
GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON SHEEP

but their wool is much finer, probably due to South Down crosses at an early period.

Crag or Limestone Sheep.—Both sexes are horned, and the faces, shanks and fleeces are white. They stand drought remarkably well, and do not require water. They are found upon the mountain limestone tracts of West Yorkshire and East Lancashire, and form a striking contrast to the Lonks, which do better upon the damper and lower grounds of these dales.

Welsh Sheep.—These are very various in character. Some are white-faced and furnished with horns, while others are hornless. The best type of Radnors are black-faced, and the rams are horned. They are all of small size, and are esteemed for the superior quality of their mutton. Small joints and a weight of from 9 to 14 or 15 lb. a quarter, coupled with meat of a fine grain and dark colour, are their principal attractions.

Reviewing these numerous breeds of sheep, it is interesting to inquire the reasons why they differ from each other so widely. There can be no doubt that several of these races spring from distinct species which at one time existed in the wild state. Domestication, however, always tends to variation of type, as was originally pointed out by the naturalist Pallas. No sooner is an animal or plant placed under artificial conditions than it ceases to breed true. This fact is proved by domesticated animal and cultivated plant. Even our pets, such as cage-birds, pigeons, poultry, dogs, cats, rabbits, mice, rats, etc., produce young which break into new colours and new properties. The uniformity of Nature is disturbed and variation is the result, and that in almost every conceivable direction. It is the same with cultivated plants, and is due, in a word, to artificial conditions. Still, the natural disposition of like to produce like holds good, and as a consequence the peculiarity or variation is continued and may be exaggerated by selection. In the next place, crossing established, sub-varieties, producing still more forms, and the breeder's art assisted in developing those characters which he desired to see perpetuated.

Selection and crossing are answerable for a large number, if not all, of our races, but soil and climate are still always acting in further modifying types. It is remarkable that domesticated animals as well as plants which have escaped from artificial restraint, gradually return to their original type, or at least to uniformity of colour, size and habits. In sheep the principal objects of the breeder are the development of flesh and wool, but in this treatise meat is of the greater importance.

Quality of Mutton.—The best mutton is generally associated with the smaller breeds of sheep, on account of the finer texture of the muscular fibres which constitute the lean meat. These small sheep are found where the herbage is short, sweet and varied, and where the animal must exert itself to find its food. Exercise leads to muscular development, and is unfavourable to the accumulation of mass of fat. The