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THE LEICESTER SHEEP. VI. The LEICESTER sheep take the lead among the long-woolled kind; and of these there are three nearly distinct species : -1. The Forest sheep; 2. The Old Leicester; 3. The New Leicester or Dishley Breed portrayed above—which are an improved kind of the latter species. Their forms are handsome; color white. Their heads are clean and sinall, their necks short, and their breasts full; their bodies are round, with broad, straight backs, but the bellies rather light, or tucked up; their legs and the whole bone are fine and particularly small in proportion to their size; their pelts thin, and the wool long and fine of its kind, generally averaging seven pounds to the fleece. They are of a quiet disposition, fatten early and kindly, and are capable of being brought to a great weight, on a smaller proportion of food than other breeds of the same size, the fat wethers generally weighing (when shear
ROMNEY MARSH SHEEP.
hogs) twenty-five pounds per quarter, and the ewes twenty-two pounds: the flesh is fine grained and well flavored, but too fat to please most palates.
VII. The LINCOLNSHIRE BREED so nearly resemble the old Leicester, that they require little further description. They have white faces and legs, the bones large, and the carcass coarse ; the back long and hollow, with flat ribs, but good loins, and a deep belly; forward loose shoulders, a heavy head, with a large neck, and sinking dewlap; the hind quarter broad, the legs standing wide apart, and a large dock. The pelt is particularly thick, and the fleece consists of very long combing wool, of a rather coarse quality, but weighing generally from twelve to fourteen ponnds on the wethers, and from eight to ten pounds on the ewes.
VIII. The TEESWATER BREED, differ from the Lincolnshire in their wool not being so long and heavy; in standing upon higher, though finer boned legs, supporting, a thicker, firmer, heavier carcass, much wider upon their backs and sides; and in affording a fatter and finer-grained carcass of mutton; the two year old wethers weighing from 25 to 35 lbs. per quarter. Some particular ones at four years old have been fed to 55 lbs. and upwards. There is little doubt that the Teeswater sheep were originally bred from the same stock as the Lincolnshire ; but by attending to size rather than wool, and constantly pursuing that object, they have become a different variety of the same original breed. The present fashionable breed is considerably smaller than the original species; but they are still considerably larger and fuller of bone than the midland breed. They bear an analogy to the short-horned breed of cattle, as those of the midland counties do to the long-horned. They are not so compact, nor so complete in their form, as the Leicestershire sheep; nevertheless, the excellence of their flesh and fatting quality is not doubted, and their wool still remains of a superior staple. For any rich, fat land, they are singularly excellent.
IX. The Romney Marsh Sheep have existed immemorially on that rich tract of grazing land, on the southern coast of the counties of Kent and Sussex, from which they take their name. In their pure state, they are distinguished by white faces, a considerable thickness and length of head, and a broad forehead, with a tuft of wool upon it; a long and thin neck, and flat-sided carcass. They are wide on the loin, but have a sharp chine, and the breast is narrow, and not deep; the belly large; a good cleft; the thigh, full and broad, carrying the chief weight in the hind quarter; the tail thick, long, and coarse; the legs thick, with large feet, the muscle coarse, and the bone large. The wool is a good combing quality; the fleece of fattening wethers weighing from eight to nine pounds; the mutton is equal to that of any of the large polled breeds, and their proof being good, they are favorites with the butchers. When fat, the wethers usually average from ten to twelve stone each, and the ewes from nine to eleven. They are very hardy; are bred with little care, on wet and exposed land, requiring, after the first year, when they are wintered on the uplands, no other food in the severest situation, than occasionally a little hay, in addition to their pasture; and are fattened entirely on grass.
X. The DEVONSHIRE polled sheep form two distinct varieties of the same breed:
1. The South Devon or Dim-faced Nott, with brown face and legs; a crooked-backed, flat-sided, coarsely-boned and woolled animal, carrying a
THE SOUTH-DOWN SHEEP. fleece of 10 lbs. average weight, and averaging 22 lbs. per quarter of good mutton, at thirty months old.
2. The Bampton Nott, with white face and legs, though in other respects nearly resembling the former in appearance; but the wethers will, at twenty months old, average as much weight of carcass as the others at thirty; and if kept on for another year, will reach, when fat, as much as 28 lbs. per quarter: they are not, however, equally productive of wool; for at the first period they only yield about 64 lbs., and at the latter 9 lbs.
Another variety of long-woolled sheep is found on the Cotswold Hills to which most of the remarks already made on the Devon breeds will equally apply.
The chief of the short-woolled polled breeds, are
XI. The South-Down, of which the specific characters are,-Faces and legs gray; bones fine; head clean ; neck long and small; low before; shoulder wide ; Jight in the fore quarter ; sides and chest deep; loin broad; back bone rather too high; thigh full, and twist good; wool very fine and short, (the staple being from two to three inches in length,) weighing an average of two pounds and a half per fleece, when killed at two years old. Flesh fine grained, and of excellent flavor; quick feeders; constitution hardy and vigorous. They are round in the general appearance of the barrel ; and, from standing wide on their hind legs, and being shut well in the twist, the leg of down mutton is remarkably round and short, not only cutting handsomely for the table, but weighing heavier than common in proportion to the fore quarter; which are material advantages to the butcher, as they command a ready sale, at an advance of a penny per pound over the other joints. Fat wethers usually average about eighteen pounds per quarter.
These sheep have been bred for ages past on the chalky soils of the South Downs, in Sussex; and on such short pasture, and in such exposed situations, they are perhaps the most valuable breed in the kingdom: but they are spreading fast, not only into similar districts, but into coun. ties better calculated for long woolled and larger sheep. The figure above delineated, is from a South-down ewe bred by Mr. Ellman, of Glynde.
XII. The CANNOCK Heath sheep are bred upon an extensive waste,
so named, in Staffordshire ; they are very generally grey faced; without horns; bear fine wool; and from many points of similitude between them and the South-down breed, it has been thought that they were originally derived from the same stock. The bone, however, is coarser; nor do they possess the same beauty and compactness as the downs; but these defects probably arise from inattention on the part of the former breed. ers, which the present flock-masters are making efforts to rectify; and to counterbalance them, the carcass is heavier, and the mutton equally good.
XIII. The RYELAND BREED, is so called from a district in the neighborhood of Ross, in Herefordshire. They are small, white faced, and horu!ess; the wool growing close to their eyes; are light in the bone; have small, clean legs; and, when proper attention has been paid to the breeding stock, possess great compactness and symmetry. The ewes weigh from nine to twelve and fourteen pounds, and the wethers from twelve to sixteen pounds per quarter, when fatted, at three to four years old, and their flesh is equal to any mutton in the kingdom. The fleece does not average more than two pounds; but the quality of the wool is unrivalled by that of any of our native stock.
A cross has been made between this breed and the Spanish sheep, the produce of which are termed Merino Ryelands, and the wool Anglo merino.
In some of the neighboring counties to Herefordshire, both in Eng. land and Wales, there is a breed of sheep very much resembling the Ryelands, known as the
Shropshire morf. They bear wool of a fine quality; generally have white faces and legs, though sometimes a little freckled; are tight in the bone, and have small clean limbs. There are two species, which, from inattention to the breeds, are often blended. The one polled, the other having small, light, crooked horns,-a still smaller variety, bred on the mountains, and in high estimation for the table, but which is generally known under the common denomination of Welsh.
XIV. The Cheviot SHEEP were originally bred upon the hilly districts in the north-west part of Northumberland, but have since spread over many of the mountainous tracts in the neighboring counties, and have even nearly superseded the horned breed of black-faced sheep in some parts of the Highlands of Scotland. They are hornless, and their faces and legs are in general white, though formerly the prevailing color was black. The best breeds have an open countenance, with lively prominent eyes ; long bodies, but wanting depth in the breast, and on the chine; and fine, clean, small-boned limbs. They are seldom slaughtered until they have attained the age of four to four and a half years, when the fat wethers will average from 12 lbs. to 18 lbs. per quarter, fattening kindly, and producing mutton of excellent quality. The wool is inferior to that of most other of the short-woolled polled breeds, and appears to have been injured by some late attempts to improve the carcass.
The Sheep known as the Herdwick breed, though smaller than the Cheviot, and only found in one rocky and mountainous district at the head of the Duddon and Esk rivers, in Cumberland, (Eng.) appear to be only a variety of the same race.
Another variety, termed the Dun-faced breed, is found in the exposed northern districts of England. The faces of the sheep are of a dun, or tawny color; the animals are smaller in size ; have short tails; and are not so hardy as the preceding sort. The wool is variously streaked with
MERINO, OR SPANISH SHEEP. XV. The MERINO, or SPANISH SHEEP, a wether of which breed is here delineated-have horns of a middle size, of which the ewes are sometimes destitute; faces white; legs of the same hue and rather long; shape not very perfect, having a piece of loose skin depending from the neck; bone fine; pelt fine and clear.
The wool of the Merino sheep is uncommonly fine, and weighs, upon an average, about three pounds and a half per fleece. The best Merino fleeces have a dark brown tinge on their surface, almost amounting to black, which is formed by dust adhering to the greasy, yolky properties of its pile; and there is a surprising contrast between it and the rich white color within, as well as the rosy hue of the skin, which peculiarly denotes high proof. The Merinos are natives of the northern provinces of Spain, and were first introduced into Great Britain in the year 1787; but it was not until 1792 that any effectual measures were adopted towards improving the English breeds by a Spanish cross. In the lastmentioned year the late king of England received several rams of the Negretti breed; but so great was the force of prejudice, that notwithstanding the manufacturers confessed the wool of the Anglo Spanish cross to be of prime quality, yet not one individual bid for it a price at all equal to what they paid for good Spanish wool. From these sheep imported by the king, and from the great exertions of the late Lord Somerville, (who at an immense expense imported a flock of choice Merinos,) great benefit has been derived to the wool, by crossing this sort with the