January 15, 2004
From the January 1917 National Wool Grower Magazine
RAILROADS TO BLAME
Every man has his troubles, and Wyoming sheepmen got theirs this year when it came shipping time. Buyers who contracted lambs ordered cars one, two and even three months ahead for a certain date. Such orders were accepted, and in most cases no notice of inability to furnish cars on delivery dates was given. One particularly aggravating case was that of a buyer who had a bunch of 6,000 lambs to receive, and on the day before the lambs were to be received, weighed and loaded he inquired if cars would be ready. The agent told him he had no information to the contrary. The lambs came into the corrals late in the afternoon, and at 6 o?clock that evening the agent informed him he could not have cars the next day. The lambs were held in the corrals three days before cars were furnished, and in the meantime no information of any description could be secured as to whether the carts would be furnished or not, or when.
The railroads may have their troubles, but many of them they have brought upon themselves. Such treatment of shippers is absolutely inexcusable. They know whether or not cars can be furnished on a certain date, and if not, when they can, and there is no reason for not giving this information to the shipper and giving him a chance to provide accordingly. A bunch of sheep cannot be piled up like dead freight on a platform or in a warehouse and await the royal pleasure and convenience of the railroad without incurring damage or loss. The sooner railroads realize this and consider the rights of livestock shippers, the quicker will they remove needless antagonism and public ill will.
WOLF PROOF FENCES
I am writing to tell you of some of the savings we are able to trace to the use of wolf proof fencing of which I put up about twenty-six miles about two years ago.
We find that the same pasture under the fence has sustained about double the number of sheep that it would under herd, thus greatly increasing our pasturage capacity.
Also our records show that it would have cost us about $7,500.00 to run six thousand head under herd, while with the fence we handled that number for $1,826.00, a net saving of $5,674.00.
Also our clip of wool averaged about one pound per fleece more than it had run under herd, which at fifteen cents adds a further net saving of $900.00.
Thus you will see that we must fairly credit our fence investment with net returns in one year only of $6,574.00, besides the uncertain saving by the reduction of losses of sheep and lambs. These losses under the fence have been less than one-half as great as under herd and any sheep man will readily appreciate that with such a herd this means no small item.
The fence has lightened the labor, lessened the losses, cut down the costs and increased the pasturage, production and profits.
In short, it has paid for itself and then some.
W. F. Coates & Sons, Texas
COST OF RAISING SHEEP
A subscriber in Ohio asks us the cost of handling sheep in the farming states and wants to know whether interest on investment should be included as a cost.
On the present basis of prices, the cost of keeping a ewe in the farming country is somewhere around $6 per year, varying somewhat with the local value of hay and grain. These costs would be divided about as follows on a basis of each ewe:
Interest at 6 per cent on each ewe valued at $10 equals 60 cents; annual loss of ewes by death estimated at 6 per cent equals 60 cents; labor, 75 cents; 1 pound grain per day at 1 1-2 cents per pound, $1.35; three pounds clover hay per day for 120 days at $15 per ton, $2,70; pasture for 8 months at 10 cents per month, 80 cents. This gives a total cost of $5.45 per ewe, but it does not include taxes, cost of ram, or miscellaneous expenses, nor does it include annual depreciation in the value of the ewe, something that must be looked after if the farmer is to break even. However, as the farmer is in close proximity to markets, he may be able to dispose of his ewes without much depreciation in value; the Western man cannot do this, however.
Certainly interest must be included as a cost. Every corporation or mercantile institution in the country includes interest as the first item of expense. If, when the farmer invests his money in live stock, he is not entitled to interest, then he had far better loan it to some manufacturer or railroad and draw interest thereon, and thus escape the hazards incident to live stock investment.
I am expecting to buy three registered ewes and a ram to start a registered flock. While I have handled sheep all my life, my father was a sheepman, my grandfather was one also, in Ohio. Many times I have sat and listened to my grandfather tell the sheep story of his life. He sold sheep in the fifties by the thousands for the pelts only, at twenty-five cents each. These were sent overland by freight wagon to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and Baltimore, Maryland. He stayed with sheep until he finally sold wool for $1.00 per pound and paid $1,000 for a buck from Old Golddrop. He bred all the best ewes he had to him and the next year sold every ram lamb for $100 a head. So by rights, I should be in the West raising sheep instead of in Louisiana raising cotton.
W. E. Morrow
SHEEP FROM VERMONT
Mr. F. L. Darbee, of Missoula, Montana, has recently received a registered American Merino ram from the flock of J. T. Stickney, of Shoreham, Vermont. This is one of the finest Vermont Merinos that has been shipped into the West within recent years.
CATTLEMEN RAISING SHEEP
District Forester George H. Cecil, Portland, Oregon, says that a large number of cattle permittees who are using the National forest ranges of Oregon and Washington are now grazing on their ranches small bands of from 300 to 400 sheep, which are considered valuable for furnishing mutton, cleaning up weeds and adding to the income of the ranch.
This is quite a concession for the cattlemen to make, according to Mr. Cecil, but it is interesting in that it indicates the coming of a more diversified system of management on the interior ranches, as well as being a factor in keeping up the supply of sheep already considerably decreased by the homesteading of much of the public range.