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Sheep Farming on 500 Acres.

At a meeting of the Bush Districts Farmer's Club (North Island) last week, the President (Mr G. D. Hamilton) read the following paper :-— "ONE WAY OF SHEEP FAKMING OX 500 ACRES," It is desirable to simplify all management as much as possible and particularly on small areas. Let us first assume that the 500 acres are grassed with a number of different sorts of good grasses and clovers suitable to the soil, which is essential to the permanence of the pasture, and to the health of stock kept permanently on it. And I here purpose to deal with a permanent as distinguished from a temporary stock, i.e., one bought in and resold at short intervals of a year or so. We may assume that the farm has been divided into fire paddocks by good fences, and that there is a supply of clean water in each of these paddocks ; also that the 500 acres will keep two sheep to the acre, 1000 longwool sheep in high condition (requiring very good pasture to secure this), for this is one of the first conditions of success in the system with which we are dealing—that is, breeding fat lambs for the market, otherwise in this case for freezing. We will suppose that the farmer has bought 1000 fairly pure longwooled ewes, equal . numbers, 2, 4, 6, and 8 tooth, all fresh sheep, low, round ribbed, broad backed, broad chested, of strong constitution, and as well and evenly woolled as he can obtain them, and then they are in good strong store condition ; that he has obtained 20 fresh young rams, showing all the good qualities demanded for the ewes in a marked degree, and the best he can procure, in good strong condition. A less number of rams might be suggested, but in this case and a comparatively small flock it is desirable to have the lambing over in as short a time as possible, so as to secure as nearly as possible the lambs being ready for the butcher at the same time. From the first the sheep should always be kept supplied with as much rock salt as they will take, thus warding off much disease. If the salt is kept in watertight V-shaped troughs which the sheep cannot upset, it will, even if reduced to salt water, be used by the she °,p, and will not be wasted. In land deficient in lime, slack lime placed in the trough with the salt will probably be found of benefit, which may be estimated by the quantity used by the sheep when they have become accustomed to that and the salt. The sheep should at short intervals be moved from paddock to padclock, and thus always have fresh, clean feed, where the grass allows of it; it is well to have a fixed day for making these shifts. Having ascertained when the young grass in spring will be sufficiently forward to afford the ewes plenty of feed to give them milk at lambing, the putting the rams to the ewes should be so timed as to have the first lambs dropped at that time (about five months after impregnation). To get the greatest number of ewes served in a short time they should be divided among the paddocks in aa equal numbers as practicable with the proportion of rams, as otherwise the rams are apt to fight, etc., and congregate in one corner to the neglect of the rest. The farmer must see that this is well looked after. If this is well managed there should not be many lambs dropped after the iii-st three weeks. When the lambs arc being docked note should be taken of any ewes that have net had a lamb, and these Kheep marked ;: if they come,.agam into the yards the second season without having had a lamb, they should then-, irrespective of age, be fattened for freezing, thus getting rid of unprolific sheep, ;i;i!l ia that direction improving the eiwrncter of the flock. The most favorable .state for the ewes with the ram is good strong store condition and improving, too hi\jh condition, fat, or low condition being alike unfavorable to impregnation. Tne nuns; lrnild be in high condition. In four or five weeks at most the rains should be withdrawn, and the ewes now kept in the best condition possible until the lamds are weaned, when they (the ewes will) probably have to be carefully kept on spare feed to avoid those intended for breeding next season from getting too fat to become impregnated. The eight-tooth ewes will at the time of weaning the lambs be all drafted out, also any others that show serious defects before overlooked. If grass is sufficiently plentiful these would now be put to fatten for freezing, but if otherwise they -would have to be sold rs stores, a c jndition of things which for carrying out this system of sheep farming ia most, nndesirable. When the lambs are wearied a number «f the best of tho ewe lambs, equal to replace the ewes fattened or sold or dead, should be kept (and here expert assistance should be enlisted) put on feed sufficient to always give them as much as they can use, until about co put them to the rams for the first time (after a month or so they might run with the fattening ewes if suiting otherwise), thus ensuring well grown developed sheep. The remainder of the lambs of both sexes should go straight from the ewes to the freezing works, and should average from 35 to 401bs. The lambs at weaning should be not much more than four months old, the most forward half might be frozen about three weeks before the others, the last half remaining that time longer before being weaned. The lambing should average over 100 per cent on the ewes lambing. I have a number of half-bred ewes in the smaller paddocks which for many years have averaged about 120 per cent., and have always had considerably over 100 per cent., which for a long-wool flock in favorable circumstances is only a moderate result. It will be remembered that I am only illustrating one of the systems of sheep farming in which I was 3ngaged in the Home country on a considerable scale, .and for which the freezing of lambs and sheep now offers a fair opening here, and that farmers can modify this system to suit their circumstances. On a place of this size where there are no ploughs used, a farmer can do all the work, if getting and ! returning help by neighbors, including the shearing and dipping, and this is the custom in many sheep farming districts in Scotland, where the sheep to each shepherd might ayerage about 80Q, and this sheep work is taken in rotation. The woolshed and press may hp of the simplest. For the latter what is known as a "spade press" is ample. Care ehould be taken to pufc the wool into .the packs free from ill other substances, packing black, sandy sr matted fleeces by themselves. Made loads aro not of importance to a place of •this size as the wool could be packed out, but for the system of which I am writing . the farm should only be fi modrate drive, say ttvo or three days, from a railway station, or slaughtering place, as lambs fall off very fast if driven far. I would advise the use of Cooper's.dip, in preference to home made, and to most others. If need according to directions at weaniug fcims when the ewes and lambs to bo retained itre spparated, and on t]»P dry she«p aftey shearing, it will save dip and bo very effective. The Jambs or sheep to be slaughtered within a month or two would not be dipped. It would not be contemplated to keep more cattle than would supply the settler with dairy produce and beef. Much land will not keep two sheep to the acre in a sufficient condition, and so of course a less number in this case would have to be kept. lam now speaking of a bush farm, or one where winter feod is nofcgrow,n, but the farmer would find hay useful in many I ways if if could be made. I have endeavored to avoid introducing more detail than was needed to make the subject plain, and will now illustrate bhe financial results by approximate figures, which are,-

however, based on the present price of frozen meat, and on my own recent returns. Ist Year's Receipts. 250 cull ewes to freeze at 651b weight at 9s ... £112 10 0 Skins at 3s 37 10 8 750 lambs to freeze at 371b at 8s 6d 318 15 0 Value of wool from 1000 ewes with lambs at 5s on farm... 250 0 0 £718 15 0 Expenditure. Wool packs, &c. £3 0 0 Dip 2 5 0 Carriage of wool to railway ; railage to Napier at 10a per bale 11 0 0 Sundries 25 0 0 Bought stores 36 0 0 Rates and taxes, calculated on a valuation of £5 per acre—Ro%d Board rate at f d ; County Council at f d ; Property Tax (on sheep valued at £500 in addibior.) at Id ; sheep and rabbit rates ... 27 11. 3 £105 4 3 Showing an apparent surplus of £613 10s 9d. 2nd Ybar's Receipts. i 250 cull ewes to freeze at 651b weight at 9s ... £112 10 0 Skins at 3s '. 37 10 0 500 lambs to freeze at 37ft atßs6d. 212 10 0 Wool from 750 ewes and lambs and 250 ew« hoggets at 5s on farm... 250 0 0 £612 10 0 Expenditure. Same as first year £105 4 3 Showing an apparent surplus of £507 5s 9d, and so on afterwards. At the end of second year five rams should be bought to put to two-tooth ewes. , I have only given round numbers, and make no allowance for deaths, as the increase should be more than 100 per cent and so cover deaths. One merit of this system is that it reduces the risk of loss on hoggetts to the 250 kept to renew the ewe flock

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Bibliographic details

Sheep Farming on 500 Acres., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2486, 8 August 1890

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Sheep Farming on 500 Acres. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2486, 8 August 1890

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