Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sheep, Swine, and Poultry, by Robert Jennings - Full Text

illustration title page
With Numerous Illustrations.
John E. Potter and Company.
617 Sansom Street

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, by
In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States, in and for the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania.



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Encouraged by the favorable reception of his former works, the author presents in the following pages what is intended by him as a popular compendium relative to Sheep, Swine, and Poultry.
It would not have been a difficult matter to collect material bearing upon each distinct class sufficient for an entire volume of the present size. Indeed, the main trouble experienced has been the selecting of such facts and suggestions only as seemed to him of paramount practical importance. He has not deemed it advisable to cumber his work with items of information which could be of service to particular sections and localities only; but has rather endeavored to present, in a concise, yet comprehensible shape, whatever is essential to be understood concerning the animals in question.
The amateur stock-raiser and the wealthy farmer will, of course, call to their aid all the works, no matter how expensive or voluminous, which are to be found bearing upon the subject in which they are for the time interested. The present volume can scarcely be expected to fill the niche which such might desire to see occupied.
The author’s experience as a veterinary surgeon among the great body of our farmers convinces him that what is needed by them in the premises is a treatise, of convenient size, containing the essential features of the treatment and management of each, couched in language free from technicality or rarely scientific expressions, and fortified by the results of actual experience upon the farm.
Such a place the author trusts this work may occupy. He hopes that, while it shall not be entirely destitute of interest for any, it will prove acceptable, in a peculiar degree, to that numerous and thrifty class of citizens to which allusion has already been made.
The importance of such a work cannot be overrated. Take the subject of sheep for example: the steadily growing demand for woollen goods of every description is producing a great and lucrative[4]development of the wool trade. Even light fabrics of wool are now extensively preferred throughout the country to those of cotton. Our imports of wool from England during the past six years have increased at an almost incredible rate, while our productions of the article during the past few years greatly exceed that of the same period in any portion of our history.
Relative to swine, moreover, it may be said that they form so considerable an item of our commerce that a thorough information as to the best mode of raising and caring for them is highly desirable; while our domestic poultry contribute so much, directly and indirectly, to the comfort and partial subsistence of hundreds of thousands, that sensible views touching that division will be of service in almost every household.
To those who are familiar with the author’s previous works upon the Horse and Cattle, it is needless to say any thing as to the method adopted by him in discussing the subject of Diseases. To others he would say, that only such diseases are described as are likely to be actually encountered, and such curatives recommended as his own personal experience, or that of others upon whose judgment he relies, has satisfied him are rational and valuable.
The following works, among others, have been consulted: Randall’s Sheep Husbandry; Youatt on Sheep; Goodale’s Breeding of Domestic Animals; Allen’s Domestic Animals; Stephens’s Book of the Farm; Youatt on the Hog; Richardson on the Hog; Dixon and Kerr’s Ornamental and Domestic Poultry; Bennett’s Poultry Book; and Browne’s American Poultry Yard.
To those professional brethren who have so courteously furnished him with valuable information, growing out of their own observation and practice, he acknowledges himself especially indebted; and were he certain that they would not take offence, he would be pleased to mention them here by name.
Should the work prove of service to our intelligent American farmers and stock-breeders as a body, the author’s end will have been attained.

A Leicester Ram
With a single exception—that of the dog—there is no member of the beast family which presents so great a diversity of size, color, form, covering, and general appearance, as characterizes the sheep; and none occupy a wider range of climate, or subsist on a greater variety of food. This animal is found in every latitude between the Equator and the Arctic circle, ranging over barren mountains and through fertile valleys, feeding upon almost every species of edible forage—the cultivated grasses, clovers, cereals, and roots—browsing on aromatic and bitter herbs alike, cropping the leaves and[16] barks from stunted forest shrubs and the pungent, resinous evergreens. In some parts of Norway and Sweden, when other resources fail, he subsists on fish or flesh during the long, rigorous winter, and, if reduced to necessity, even devours his own wool.
In size, he is diminutive or massive; he has many horns, or but two large or small spiral horns, or is polled or hornless. His tail may be broad, or long, or a mere button, discoverable only by the touch. His covering is long and coarse, or short and hairy, or soft and furry, or fine and spiral. His color varies from white or black to every shade of brown, dun, buff, blue, and gray. This wide diversity results from long domestication under almost every conceivable variety of condition.
Among the antediluvians, sheep were used for sacrificial offerings, and their fleeces, in all probability, furnished them with clothing. Since the deluge their flesh has been a favorite food among many nations. Many of the rude, wandering tribes of the East employ them as beasts of burden. The uncivilized—and, to some extent, the refined—inhabitants of Europe use their milk, not only as a beverage, but for making into cheese, butter, and curds—an appropriation of it which is also noticed by Job, Isaiah, and other Old Testament writers, as well as most of the Greek and Roman authors. The ewe’s milk scarcely differs in appearance from that of the cow, though it is generally thicker, and yields a pale, yellowish butter, which is always soft and soon becomes rancid. In dairy regions the animal is likewise frequently employed at the tread-mill or horizontal wheel, to pump water, churn milk, or perform other light domestic work.
[17]The calling of the shepherd has, from time immemorial, been conspicuous, and not wanting in dignity and importance. Abel was a keeper of sheep; as were Abraham and his descendants, as well as most of the ancient patriarchs. Job possessed fourteen thousand sheep. Rachel, the favored mother of the Jewish race, “came with her father’s sheep, for she kept them.” The seven daughters of the priest of Midian “came and drew water for their father’s flocks.” Moses, the statesman and lawgiver, “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians,” busied himself in tending “the flocks of Jethro, his father-in-law.” David, too, that sweet singer of Israel and its destined monarch—the Jewish hero, poet, and divine—was a keeper of sheep. To shepherds, “abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night,” came the glad tidings of a Saviour’s birth. The Hebrew term for sheep signifies, in its etymology, fruitfulness, abundance, plenty—indicative of the blessings which they were destined to confer upon the human family. In the Holy Scriptures, this animal is the chosen symbol of purity and the gentler virtues, the victim of propitiatory sacrifices, and the type of redemption to fallen man.
Among profane writers, Homer and Hesiod, Virgil and Theocritus, introduce them in their pastoral themes; while their heroes and demi-gods—Hercules and Ulysses, Eneas and Numa—carefully perpetuate them in their domains.
In modern times, they have engaged the attention of the most enlightened nations, whose prosperity has been intimately linked with them, wherever wool and its manufactures have been regarded as essential staples. Spain and Portugal, during the two centuries in which they figured as the most[18] enterprising European countries, excelled in the production and manufacture of wool. Flanders, for a time, took precedence of England in the perfection of the arts and the enjoyments of life; and the latter country then sent what little wool she raised to the former to be manufactured. This being soon found highly impolitic, large bounties were offered by England for the importation of artists and machinery; and by a systematic and thorough course of legislation, which looked to the utmost protection and increase of wool and woollens, she gradually carried their production beyond any thing the world had ever seen.
Of the original breed of this invaluable animal, nothing certain is known; four varieties having been deemed by naturalists entitled to that distinction.
These are, 1. The Musimon, inhabiting Corsica, Sardinia, and other islands of the Mediterranean, the mountainous parts of Spain and Greece, and some other regions bordering upon that inland sea. These have been frequently domesticated and mixed with the long-cultivated breeds.
2. The Argali ranges over the steppes, or inland plains of Central Asia, northward and eastward to the ocean. They are larger and hardier than the Musimon and not so easily tamed.
3. The Rocky Mountain Sheep—frequently called the Bighorn by our western hunters—is found on the prairies west of the Mississippi, and throughout the wild, mountainous regions extending through California and Oregon to the Pacific. They are larger than the Argali—which in other respects they resemble—and are probably descended from them, since they could easily cross upon the ice at Behring’s Straits, from the[19] north-eastern coast of Asia. Like the Argali, when caught young they are readily tamed; but it is not known that they have ever been bred with the domestic sheep. Before the country was overrun by the white ram, they probably inhabited the region bordering on the Mississippi. Father Hennepin—a French Jesuit, who wrote some two hundred years ago—often speaks of meeting with goats in his travels through the territory which is now embraced by Illinois, Wisconsin, and a portion of Minnesota. The wild, clambering propensities of these animals—occupying, as they do, the giddy heights far beyond the reach of the traveller—and their outer coating of hair—supplied underneath, however, with a thick coating of soft wool—give them much the appearance of goats. In summer they are generally found single; but when they descend from their isolated, rocky heights in winter, they are gregarious, marching in flocks under the guidance of leaders.
Rocky Mountain Sheep
4. The Bearded Sheep of Africa inhabit the mountains of Barbary and Egypt. They are covered with a soft, reddish[20] hair, and have a mane hanging below the neck, and large, locks of hair at the ankle.
Many varieties of the domesticated sheep—that is, all the subjugated species—apparently differ less from their wild namesakes than from each other.
The fat-rumped and the broad-tailed sheep are much more extensively diffused than any other, and occupy nearly all the south-eastern part of Europe, Western and Central Asia, and Northern Africa. They are supposed, from various passages in the Pentateuch in which “the fat and the rump” are spoken of in connection with offerings, to be the varieties which were propagated by the patriarchs and their descendants, the Jewish race. They certainly give indisputable evidence of remote and continued subjugation. Their long, pendent, drowsy ears, and the highly artificial posterior developments, are characteristic of no wild or recently domesticated race.
This breed consists of numerous sub-varieties, differing in all their characteristics of size, fleece, color, etc., with quite as many and marked shades of distinction as the modern European varieties. In Madagascar, they are covered with hair; in the south of Africa, with coarse wool; in the Levant, and along the Mediterranean, the wool is comparatively fine; and from that of the fat-rumped sheep of Thibet the exquisite Cashmere shawls of commerce are manufactured. Both rams and ewes are sometimes bred with horns, and sometimes without, and they exhibit a great diversity of color. Some yield a carcass of scarcely thirty pounds, while others have weighed two hundred pounds dressed. The tail or rump varies greatly, according to the purity and style of breeding; some are less than one-eighth, while others exceed one-third of the entire[21] dressed weight. The fat of the rump or tail is esteemed a great delicacy; in hot climates resembling oil, and in colder, suet.
It is doubtful whether sheep are indigenous to Great Britain; but they are mentioned as existing there at very early periods.

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