DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.
ANNUAL REPORT. The eighth report of the Department of Aerionlture, being that for the year ended the 31st March. 1900, was presented to the House yesterday by the Hen T. Duncan. The Secretary for Agriculture and Chief Inspector of Mtocs, in bis report to the Minister, states that the harvest of 1899-1900 was satisfactory in so far as the yield of grain was concerned. It is to be regretted, however, that the price, of wheat especially, left a very small margin of profit. Oats' maintained a fair price, owing, noj doubt, to the increased . demand for shipment to South Africa. A very considerable business in old oats was done both by direct shipments and via Melbourne”. The department undertook the supervision of all shipments on account ot the Imperial Government, and. so far, no complaints have been received. The Secretary regrets to say that there is good reason to believe that a quantity of oats that had been rejected were shipped privately to South Africa. Very grave complaints have been made *of the condition of much of the hemp sent down for shipment. It is evident that if the industry is to be Secured, steps must bo taken to grade the fibre at port of shipment, and thus put a check upon careless millers. The number of sheep in the colony is not increasing. When -the increased area under grass, etc., is taken into consideration the question becomes of grave import, and it behoves those concerned to devise some means of overcoming the trouble before it is too late. There is not the slightest doubt but that the continued export of a larger number of ewe lambs than is warranted is accountable bo a great degree for the position. For the past year or two every available ewe, old . and young, was bred from, with,, the usual residt —a considerable mortality, , and many weedy lambs. ; The increased demand during the past sensen has given a stimulus to the beef branch of .the meat export industry, as will be seen from the following figures. The quantity exported for years ending 31st ,March: —1898-1899, 91,729 cwt, valued at £102,512; 1899-1900, 238,234 cwt. valued at £269,459, being an increase of. 146,505 cwt, and value £166,947. The bulk of the meat, was very prime, and.if a.steady market could bo depended upon it would encourage the rearing and feeding of suitable beef cattle. To, obtain such, calves 7 must receive something more than separated milk.; , o The demand for store steep was very keen, and the prices ruling must have been satisfactory to sellers. A very large number of stores, principally ewes, ; was from the port of Wellington to Lyttelton, for Canterbury requirements. A proportion were 'anything' but Tit to breed from, being very small and weedy;; besides, many wore old, and more fitted for boilingdown. The mixing of so many flocks of different breeds is also a matter deserving of attention. The quality of the wool should bo kept -in view, and this cannot be done unless some attention is paid to the foundation of a. flock. The indiscriminate use of rates of the Southdown, Shropshire and Hampshire breeds should be These should only be used for the breeding of lambs for export, and from ewes that are either not suitable for breeding a good lamb by a longwool ram, or which have had two or more lambs. Any cull ewe lamb should on no account bo kept for breeding. ■
A very groat difficulty is experienced in obtaining anything like a line of well-bred bullocks. The cattle brought in to tho saleyards are very, mixed, and without the slightest pretence to breed“V' demand for d raught horses is, still unsatisfied, and in consequence prices have been high. The purchase of 2611 remounts for South Africa has also been the means of raising the price of this class of animal. The greater portion ' of' them we.ro secured by the officers of the department. All sorts were submitted'" for inspection, and the price asked was in many instances double that ruling before the war commenced. The horses varied very considerably ip. type. In districts .whore' strong thoroughbred sires had been usdd' many excellent animals were got, 'but where light, weedy thoroughbreds, or .sires with trotting blood in them; had been used, the number of suitable remounts obtained was small. Horses of tho latter type appear to bo predisposed 'to ringbone. In regard to swine, it is unfortunate that the demand lor baconcrs is to slack. Unless new markets are found for uio output of tho numerous factories now in operation, the industry must fall behind, to the great loss of the sellers engaged in dairying. It;was. hoped that; an opening would bo found in .South Africa, but inquiries elicited the fact. That the,,markets. there, are .overstocked.. ‘ :
In’ tlie .Wellington district some trouble has been experienced in getting settlers to take action to keep, down the raboit pest, and proceedings have had to be taken in several instances. The pest is nowhere numerous, hut if allowed to increase would very soon overrun the whole district. < ’ ’
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