( Originally Published 1912 )
Care and Management of Sheep Selection—Feeding
Breeding Age—Gestation—Coupling—Lambing—Rams —Castration—Docking—Tagging—Shelter
Prize Winning Lincoln Sheep Owned by Dr. David Roberts
Diseases of Sheep—Symptoms and Treatment
Domesticated sheep were first introduced on the American continent by Spanish discoverers and conquerors. On the second voyage of Columbus to the new world he brought with him some animals with which to stock the island of Hispaniola; among them were some sheep. His live stock was landed about the middle of December, 1493, at Isabella, where was founded the first Christian city of the new world. The vessels that followed from Spain from time to time brought supplies for the Colonies, including in their cargoes sheep which were landed at Hispaniola and Cuba. From these islands sheep were carried to the Isthmus of Panama.
On Cortes' return from Spain to the City of Mexico in 1530, misunderstandings arose between him and the magistrates, and he left the capital, taking up his residence in the City of Cuernavaca, on the southern slope of the Cordilleras overlooking a wide expanse of country. Here he devoted himself to agriculture and the improvement of his estate. Among other live stock, he imported large numbers of Merino sheep, which flourished and increased rapidly on the abundant pastures in the country around Tehuantepec. From these two localities, Panama and the City of Cuernavaca, went forth sheep in large numbers. From these Spanish sheep originated the immense herds in Mexico, New Mexico, Utah and Texas.
Sheep were introduced into the. Eastern States by the early settlers, and much attention was paid to the raising of them. The increase was slow, as there were many difficulties to overcome in caring for them, the principal one being that of protecting the sheep from wolves which abounded in that country in its early settlement. With the approach of the Revolution more attention was paid to the raising of sheep. A feeling of independence was felt throughout the country, and showed itself in the increase of flocks, that the domestic manufacture might be carried on, and there was an increased demand for homespun garments from those who had usually worn the fine products of the British looms. The press of the country urged upon the population the importance of increasing the number of sheep and improving them by selecting the best and disposing of the poorest, and one who continued to wear a coat made of English material was not considered a patriot.
The Revolutionary War caused a backward step in the character of the sheep at that date, and also retarded the increase. As large numbers of the citizens were in the army, the flocks were neglected, and many of the sheep were destroyed by the armies. Upon the close of the war many breeders endeavored to improve their flocks by importations from abroad, as well as by giving those which they still had better care and attention. Much was done toward improving the sheep by better care and attention, but as England was too jealous to permit her improved sheep to be exported for the purpose of improving those of the United States, she passed stringent exportation laws which practically prohibited the exporting of any sheep from England. Although means were found for evading this law, yet the number which the citizens of the United States succeeded in importing was but few, and made but a small impression upon the native flocks.
George Washington, after the close of the Revolutionary War, was the first to improve the breed of his native sheep. He usually kept a flock of from seven to eight hundred sheep, and paid particular attention to their care and breeding, fully realizing that to get the most income from his flock they should be kept up to as high a standard as possible. From the time of the Revolutionary War the sheep industry has gradually increased, though it has often met with reverses of different kinds.
Care and Management of Sheep
Constant attention is necessary in the care and management of sheep. They are timid, without self-reliance, an easy prey to dogs. The necessity of keeping them in large flocks causes them to be especially liable to contagious and epidemic diseases. This care and attention should be given from the time the lamb is born. Often a little attention to a young lamb which is weak will enable it to take on a robust constitution and become one of your best sheep.
The proper breeding age for sheep is two years, and may continue until ten years old. From the age of three to eight years the best lambs will be produced.
Lambs should be castrated at from two to four weeks old.
November is the season for coupling, but if breeding for mutton or wool, it may be later than this, as the lambs will be better if not dropped until after the time for grass. If the object be to sell Iambs, the earlier in the season they are produced the more money they will bring.
This should be done as soon as they recover from castrating, generally about three or four days afterwards. This should be done with a single stroke of a sharp knife, care being taken to sever the tail at a joint, The skin of the tail should be drawn to the body so that the end will cover the stub. Allow the flock to lie down and keep quiet so that they may lose the least amount of blood possible.
Sheep eat a variety of vegetation other than the true grasses and will pick a living on pastures where other stock would starve. They can be turned into rough pastures and where brush is growing and will enjoy eating the nutritious shrubs, brush and tufts of grass, in this way helping to clean up the land while getting a good living. The feeding of grain and other feed to sheep should be taken up early enough in the fall so that they will not fall off in flesh before going into winter quarters. A good allowance of corn, oats and bran should be fed, together with plenty of good, clean hay, clover being preferable. There should also be plenty of good, clean water to drink. A trough with medicated salt should be provided so that the sheep may get it at will.
The general diseases of sheep are as follows:
Distemper or Epizootic Catarrh, Indigestion, and Paralysis or Stoppage of the Bowels. These are forms of disease that are the most troublesome, and need the most prompt attention.
Ewes carry their lambs on an average of 152 days. This time may vary a few days.
At lambing time the ewe should be provided with warm quarters so that the lamb may dry off and take the teat as soon as possible. Ewes are very apt to become indifferent to a weak lamb.
There should be one ram for each one hundred sheep or less. In the beginning of the season do not let the ram serve more than two or three ewes a day, increasing the number as necessity demands. As the season draws to a close, restrict him again, as an exhausted male cannot get strong offspring.
Dr. David Roberts Veterinary Company exhibited a bunch of Lincoln Sheep at the following State Fairs : Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa and Kentucky, and won 57 (fifty-seven) prizes.
6 Championship prizes,
32 First prizes.
18 Second prizes,
1 Third prize.
In the selection of sheep for the foundation of a flock the first question to be settled is whether you are going to breed principally for wool or for mutton, and the next is the question of what breed to adopt. In deciding both of these questions your own inclinations should be considered, for you are apt to be more successful when your own inclinations are followed, as more interest will be taken. It is also advisable in deciding these questions to study good authorities on the sheep industry and also to seek the advice of some well posted sheep raiser who has had experience in handling sheep.
After these questions have been settled, the selections of the individuals follow. In this as with other stock, only strong, healthy, vigorous animals should be used for breeding. When you succeed in raising a particularly fine animal, one which shows the best points, keep that animal for your own use in breeding and dispose of some not as good in quality. By following this rule you will soon have a fine flock of vigorous and healthy sheep.
Sheep barns or sheds need not be expensive structures, as it is only necessary to provide shelter that will keep out wind and water, and at the same time admit of proper ventilation. About three to three and one-half square feet of shed room should be allowed for each sheep. Sheds opening to the south are preferable, as they provide the most protection.
By giving your sheep such care and attention as they need, together with good feed and breeding, they will produce wool and mutton of the best quality, and in large quantities, and be a flock in which their owner will take much pride.
This is important and should be performed as early in the spring as possible, certainly before the sheep are turned to grass.
DISEASES OF SHEEP
In Distemper, there is a slight watery discharge from the nostrils and eyes—there is a depression and more or less loss of appetite. The breathing is not changed unless the bronchial tubes are affected ; the animals seldom cough. At the end of a week, unless the animal gets relief, the discharge from the nostrils becomes thick and pus-like, and sometimes tinged with blood. The eyes are half closed and the lids are gummed with a yellow secretion. There is a loss of appetite, and the animal will die unless promptly treated.
Immediately upon noticing the first animal affected with Distemper, the entire flock should promptly receive Sheep Tonic as a preventive treatment. The Sheep Tonic should be thoroughly mixed with their salt, and placed in a sheltered trough, to which they may have free access. No salt should be given in any other form during the treatment. A solution of Disinfectall (one oz. to a gallon of water) should be used to sponge out their eyes and nostrils. The sheds should be thoroughly disinfected (2 oz. Disinfectall to a gallon of water). Gunny sacks dipped in this solution should be hung around through the sheds, and a sack half full of shavings saturated with Disinfectall (full strength), and hung over the sheep, is of great benefit in such cases.
See Prescription No. 180, page 182.
GRUBS IN THE HEAD OF SHEEP.
This is caused by the eggs of the gadfly' being deposited in the nostrils of the sheep in July and August. From the nostrils they find their way (in a maggot form) through the sinuses, causing much pain. When the gadflies are seeking the sheep the animals will crowd together with their noses to the ground, stamping violently at times, and will run from one place in the pasture to another. When the maggots reach their resting place they attach themselves by their hooks and are not easily dislodged.
Treatment consists of an operation which none but a competent, veterinarian should attempt, and this 'is not practical excepting upon valuable sheep. For this reason a more simple and cheaper treatment is required, which consists in giving the sheep, which are usually in a nervous, run-down condition, the Sheep Tonic, the dipping of gunny sacks and hanging them just above the heads of the sheep, and - thoroughly spraying the sheds with a strong solution of Disinfectall.
See Prescription No. 181, page 182.
Give Sheep Tonic according to directions and medicate all salt given. See Prescription No. 182, page 182.
The presence of intestinal worms is seldom known to the ordinary observer, until after the death of a sheep. They can be detected by a post mortem examination. If worms are found in this one animal, the presumption is good that other sheep are seriously infected.
Mix the Worm Powder thoroughly, according to directions, with their salt, and place in sheltered troughs where they may have free access to same. They should not receive salt in any other form.
See Prescription No. 183, page 182.
These worms are usually found in wind-pipe, or bronchial tube, and sometimes in the lungs. They are small, thread-like, and long.
There will be a husky cough, rapid breathing, loss of appetite and flesh. The sheep will rub their noses on the ground. There may be dysentery, with a bad odor.
Give the Worm Powder according to directions, in the salt or in a little feed. Disinfect the sheep pens thoroughly with a strong solution of Disinfectall (2 oz. to a gallon of water). Gunny sacks dipped in the same solution should be hung around the pens, and a half sack of shavings saturated with Disinfectall (full strength) should be hung around at different points, over the sheep. The breathing of this medicated air destroys the worms. The sheep should receive good, nutritious feed, both during and after the treatment.
See Prescription No. 184, page 182.
IN PREVENTING LIVE STOCK DISEASES.
Every animal must have, and will consume if permitted, a reasonable amount of salt, either daily or at frequent intervals, as nature demands.
When we stop and consider that all domestic animals are kept under artificial conditions to a certain extent, depriving them of an opportunity of using their wild animal instinct, which in itself would protect them in a large measure from many of the diseases they are now heir to, we can readily under-stand that when they are deprived of this liberty they are more susceptible to disease.
The bison, the wild horse, the Rocky Mountain sheep, and the wild boar require no special care in preventing or overcoming disease. They find their own preventives and curatives in the native wilds.
Owing to the fact that our domestic or farm animals are deprived of this opportunity, we must, in order to obtain the best results, supply them with such ingredients as they would obtain had they been given their freedom.
It is for this reason that I have prepared a MEDICATED SALT which contains roots, barks and herbs, and when placed where our domestic animals may have free access to it daily, prevents disease and loss to an unlimited extent.
MEDICATED SALT aids digestion and assimilation, prevents fermentation, is healing and soothing to the mucous membrane of the digestive organs; at the same time it has a tendency to destroy, stupefy, and expel worms of all description, thereby enabling the animal to derive a greater benefit from the food which it consumes, thus developing into a strong, healthy, vigorous, profitable animal.
PRICES OF MEDICATED SALT.
Put up in 100 pound bags.
100 lbs $ 5.00 500 lbs 23.00
F. O. B. Waukesha, Wis.