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CORRESPONDENCE., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2456, 2 July 1890
[We do not hold ourselves responsible for the opinions expressed by our correspondents.]
TO THE EDITOR. Sir, —Would you kindly grant me space m your valuable paper to reply to the questions asked by Mr Batty, which appeared m your issue of the 21st inst. I am very glad that so practical a farmer as Mr Batty lias put those questions to me. I do not know, however, what amount of sheep feeding experience he may have had. But this Ido know, that he is the possessor of a handsome silver cup which was awarded to him before leaving hig native home m Yorkshire for successful competition at turnip growing. Mr Batty considers that there must be some mistake m that portion of MiHerring's letter where it is stated that the manure from one sheep, fed on turnips, oats, and hay chaff, during a period of 16 weeks, when left upon the soil, would be equal to an increase of 25s m the succeeding corn crops. He is quite right; it is a palpable error. But I beg to say that although it appeared m Mr Herring's letter to me, that gentleman was not the author of it. It was a portion of an extract from the March number of the "N.Z. Country Journal," quoted without comment by Mr Herring. If 6s 5d worth of feed would produce 25s worth of manure m sixteen weeks, we might all lay aside our care and troubls about raising wool and mutton and use sheep as manure macllines only, by which to convert all and every portion of the sterile plains into gardens of Eden. At Braintree and Booking, m 1854, Mechi and a number of farmers concurred m the belief that one year's manure from a single sheep was worth from five to six shillings—and we must concede that Mechi had greater practical knowledge of the value of animal manures than almost any other man who ever farmed m England. Lawes, m his table of the value of manures from different kinds of feed, would allow 5s 7d for the manure from 1 ton of turnips, 2 bushels oats, and 28ft hay, the 16 weeks' fodder quoted m Mr Herring s letter; but, as I said m a former article, the manure from animals cannot be reckoned at more than about the half of the value m this country that it was m England at the time when Mechi and Lawes gained their knowledge, from which I am quoting. Mchi said m 18(50 : '' Breeders should also consider that manure from breeding or suckling animals has a very inferior value compared with that from full-grown fattening animals. 1' It is not hard to understand that there must be a great difference m the value of manure from young sheep making rapid bone and muscular development, ewes giving suck, lean sheep, and full-grown fat ones. Then again Lawes' table—approved by Mechi- shows that there is also the widest difference between the value of manures from different kinds of fodders. Thus the manure from a ton of clover hay is worth £2 ss, and that from the same ' weight of oat straw is only worth 13s 6d. From a ton of tares, beans, or peas, the manure is worth £3 13s (id, but from I a ton of oats it is only worth £1 14s 6d — English values 40 years ago. Mr Batty asks me what a farmer ought to do who had no other food than oats and chaff to give his sheep—m winter I suppose. My reply is, that, if his sheep consisted only of any of the various descriptions avc call stores, his wisest plan would be to sell them after his fields became bare m autumn, and wait patiently till the spring crass enabled him to buy others to replace them. In most seasons lie would get sheep m spring for very little over the price he obtained for his own m. Autumn—save himself lots of trouble, besides enabling him to get all the cash his oatK and .straw might be worth to assist him otherwise. On agricultural farms where sheep are not constantly kept, no one ought to buy sheep for the mere purpose of eating off occasional surplus feed—the proper course would be to sell the feed to graziers, A fair price could always be got for it, and the manure —whatever it might be worth into the bargain. I have known farmers oftener than once to buy sheep for the purpose of eating off grass and stubble m autumn, and have to sell them afterwards for less then they paid for them. As I do not believe it would pay to feed store sheep on oats, Mr Batty asks me what other kinds of sheep it would pay to give them to ? It would pay to give oats to all stud flocks, young and old, and to all rams during scarcity of other feed at whatever season of the year. Ie would also pay to give them along oats with other descriptions of food to accelerate fattening. I will let Mechi tell how oats were used for the latter purpose m some parts of England m his day. In 1857 he took a trip to North Devon, and while there visited the estate of Lord Fortiscue, and among other things which he saw there he saya:—"The most interesting objects were sixty fattening sheep tied up to stakes m pairs like bullocks. These occupied the vacant space m the roof over the bullocks, their excrement following the same direction on an upper floor. _ I never saw any stock progress faster, being mrfpctHy gentle and tranquil, except when disturbed' 'Tt)y grangers. The undisturbed manner m wluott tJHoli fininin! s;et*its own share of food and their porieclufitasoence, almost led me to prefer the tying up to iha loose system, but it is still an open .question mmy mind. Their food consisted of 121b.s'au;^» J#b oats, lib haychaff each, daily, not cooked, no water." Mr Batty asks what kind of enclosures would bebest for trying sheep-feeding experiment m. In the first place I will say to Mr Batty, don't follow the example set by the Devonshire Lord, and tie up innpeont sheep to stakes m a garret, to remind ypuj? daily of the historical Prisoners of OhiJ on, and "man's inhumanity to man," but place them where they will enjoy shelter when required, food, water, peace, and at least, the belief that they are free. I would think that the best plan would be to make two or three enclosures with stakes and wires, close enough to j^ep any kind of sheep m safely ; these 'yar<J£ jbo run fan-shaped from the feeding shed, each to contain say half an acre, with 'a water'ra.ee running across them at the furthest end from the shed. The yrtrds would be comparatively long and somc*-J«it narrow, which would allow of the sheep picking about, almost .side by side, and consequently adding to their quietness. There ought not to be fewer that five sheep m each pen. A few saplings would do for the frame of the shed, and if it were roofed with iron, anything would do for the sides so long as ifc afforded shelter for about 3 months, The shed /should be large enough to give the .sheep, say, fire m a pen, sufficient room to feed and lie down m, Its open side /should face the north-east, so that the sun would shine into it during the first half of the day. The sheep ought to be fed three times ,1 clay, at sunrise, noon, and at least an how- before dark ; and the person attending theju should never be changed if possible, I need not sfty that the more gentle and kindly their attendant treated them, the sooner they will fatten. If a farmer's handsome wife, or pretty daughter could be induced for a short period to take up the calling followed by
the girls who married Jacob and Moses, their inherent gentleness would accomplish wonders m hastening fche fattening process if they attended to the feeding part of the experiment.—l am, etc., D. Oliver. Chelm&ford, July Ist, 1890.
CORRESPONDENCE., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2456, 2 July 1890
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