August 15, 2004
From the August 1912 National Wool Grower Magazine
Communities of Sheep Owners Needed in the Middle West
By W. C. Coffey, University of Illinois
If there is a system of sheep husbandry that is fully admitted to the profitable on the average farm in the Corn Belt today, it is the practice of keeping the small flock. The main arguments given to support this statement are that the little flock consumes what otherwise would be considered waste, such as growths in neglected places, in truck patches, in stubble fields; that they eat the weeds and hence clean the land; that they distribute their manure evenly over the land; that they remain healthy when kept in small flocks; and that when so handled they return a large profit in mutton and wool. Facts have been advanced to support all these arguments, and there is no good reason for doubting any of them. Yet many farmers have tried the little flock and later abandoned it. Such occurrences are so frequent that the observer concludes that sheep raising is a coming and going business, and, I am sorry to say, some think it is mostly a business "going to the bad." Why do farmers abandon the small flocks? The greatest reason is, I believe, because so few in a given community keep sheep.
The man who follows diversified farming has many interests to claim his attention, and one of his first qualifications for such farming is a liking for the variety of interests which arise from the farm unit. But even a man of this type is likely not to give the small flock the thought and attention it should have unless such flocks are common to this community. His offerings of lambs and wool are small. On this account it is impossible for him to ship to the larger central markets. The better buyers cannot afford to come this way, and the poorer ones, as you know very well, are inclined to buy on one level, which is the lowest one. These conditions discourage the small flock owner in keeping informed on market requirements; in breeding the best, etc., but he still keeps his flock because it returns some profit, and it destroys weeds, which may have been the leading motive for securing it in the first place. But perhaps disease creeps in and reduces his numbers, or the pestiferous cur on some foggy, dismal night visits his fold with predatory intent. Such experiences twice or thrice repeated thoroughly disappoint and discourage the owner, and he closes his little flock out and quits.
Personally, I believe in small flocks on the farms of average size. However, if they are permanently to be a success these flocks must be the rule and not the exception in the community. In making this statement I realize that we cannot expect every farmer to keep sheep, nor can we expect every community to keep them. If the community, as a whole, adopts the practice of a small flock on the average farm the disadvantages related of the man working alone will be largely overcome. The grower will not be at the mercy of the local dealer in selling his lambs and wool; he will be stimulated to acquaint himself with market requirements; he will be influenced to better grow a better product by seeing the results obtained by the more successful of his neighbors.
Cooperation in marketing; in the purchase of desirable breeding stock; in the protection of flocks against predatory dogs; in the working out of lambs and wool most suitable for making the business profitable to the community, will uplift the industry in the estimation of the individual owner and place it on a basis of permanence.
If it is thought that I am overdrawing the need of having flocks common to the community, I ask the reader to picture in his mind what the horse business would be like if they were not to be found on more than one farm in every five; or what swine growing would be like if pigs were found on only one farm in every ten; or what the cattle industry would be like if cattle were to be kept on only one farm in every twenty. I often tell people in the Middle West that I see more rabbits more often than I do sheep when riding through the country, and it is a fact.
Can you blame a man, piddling away with his little flock without company for miles around, for getting discouraged and quitting when disease and dogs attack him? Rats, minks, weasels and hawks ravage the chickens and others drop by the wayside with croup and limber neck, but does the good housewife quit? Cholera devastates the herd, but do you quit your swine? Tuberculosis becomes rampant, but do you forsake your cattle? Will you forego your horse business because of contagious abortion? Would our sheep owner quit if he had company? I say "no."
Sheep Milk for Baldness
Yep: It Will Make Hair Grow on a Billiard Ball
Visitors to Central Park missed the flock of sheep usually to be seen cropping the grass on the big green west of the Mall. When the sheep wander over near the center drive and the collie Jack rounds them up to prevent them from getting in the way of passing automobiles, the interest of visitors is aroused. The reason the sheep were not there was because they were over in the sheepfold being milked. Forty of them had their lambs taken from them and sold at public auction. So a milking was necessary.
There are no milkmaids in the park department, so Head Keeper Billy Snyder of the menagerie got ready to do the work with his own men. To milk 40 sheep is no easy job. The flock was separated into two compartments in the sheepfold by James Conway, the shepherd, and two milking crews got to work. The sheep are of the Dorset breed, with horns, and are unsociable. Keeper Kiernan of the monkey house would seize a sheep by the horns and hold on to it until it stopped struggling. Then shepherd Conway, with his tin pail, would get to work. In the other enclosure, Sticks, a useful man about the menagerie, would seize a ewe, and Keeper Bob Hurton would act as milkmaid. The yield from each ewe averaged half a pint.
"This is much richer in cream than cow's milk," said Conway, as he held up his pail. "But the important thing about this milk is that it is great for bald heads. It will actually make the hair grow on a head that has not a single hair upon it. I know this from experience and observation."
The shepherd said he had thus brought out hair on his own head. Conway is 75 years old, and has such a thick growth of hair that he is obliged to have it cut close to the scalp during summer for the sake of comfort.
From the August 1917 National Wool Grower Magazine
New Sheep Bulletin
The Bureau of Animal Industry of the Department of Agriculture has issued Farmers' Bulletin No. 840 relating to farm sheep raising for beginners. The Bulletin was prepared by F. R. Marshall and R. B. Millin of the Animal Husbandry Foundation.
The Bulletin is designed to stimulate interest in sheep raising, especially on the farms of the Middle West, the South and the East, and it contains 24 pages of instructions and directions in sheep raising. Among the statements in the Bulletin are the following:
"Lambs and wool are in strong demand and prospects are good for profit in raising sheep on the farm.
"Several million acres of land in the United States which produce good summer feed for sheep are not grazed at present.
"Sheep raising does not require expensive equipment or heavy labor, but does require study and continuous attention.
"Early fall is the best time to start a flock. Good grade ewes and a purebred ram are the best for beginners.
"The beginner may acquire experience with less than 20 ewes, but for economy of time and fencing, and to assure proper care, flocks of 60 or more ewes are better.
"In most cases lambs are most profitable if made ready for market at about 4 months, weighing 65 to 75 pounds.
"Unless the flock has a very large territory to range over it is necessary to make divisions of the pastures or to use seeded forage crops. This permits the change of grazing ground necessary to ensure the health and thrift of the lambs."
Copies of the Bulletin may be obtained free from the Division of Publications, United States Department of Agriculture, or by writing to one of the senators or members of the House of Representatives representing the state of the writer.
Mad Coyotes Near Pony, Montana
Dr. W. J. Butler, state veterinary surgeon of Montana, has sent the following letter to all deputy state veterinarians:
"This is to officially notify you that rabies has been found to exist in coyotes and a few head of cattle in the vicinity of Pony, Madison County, Montana.
"This disease was first found in a coyote, which our investigations led us to the opinion, entered Montana from northeastern Idaho by following the sheep trails either through Targee Pass or Reas Pass and thence down the Madison River.
"The coyote in question was destroyed, but before being destroyed, it bit five calves and one cow, all of which developed rabies and died. No further infection so far has been discovered.
"Hunters have been employed by the livestock sanitary board and the United States biological survey, and the work of eradicating predatory animals in the infected district is being carried on under the direction of the United States biological survey. We are endeavoring to localize and eradicate the disease, but such a task, on account of the habits of predatory animals, may be impossible.
"Up to the present time, the disease has not been reported in dogs, but the danger of their becoming infected is very imminent. Kindly advise your local board of health and city council relative to this matter and the advisability of the strict enforcement of all dog regulations to assist in preventing the spread of this disease in Montana."
Iowa's New Dog Law
Section 1. That it shall be unlawful for any dog to run at large within this state between sunset and sunrise, except dogs while in the chase, and accompanied by their owner or trainer.
Sec. 2. No dog owned or harbored by any person in this state shall be permitted to run at large between sunrise and sunset unless he has been registered by the county auditor and shall wear a collar bearing said registration number. A registration fee of fifty cents shall be charged by the county auditor, who shall furnish a suitable tag bearing the registration number to be placed upon the collar of such dog.
Sec. 3. Any dog found at large and upon the land of other than his owner contrary to the provisions hereof shall be deemed a trespasser and may be lawfully killed by any person, provided however, that nothing in this act shall be deemed to apply to dogs owned or harbored within the limits of cities and incorporated towns having their own dog regulation while running at large within the limits of such city or town.
So much has been said about the dogs and a dog law, I wish to say that the efforts of the Iowa Sheep Breeders' Association were granted and that Iowa has a new dog law, which went into effect July 1, 1917. It has caused some stir among the hunters. Iowa also has a closed game law on quails and prairie chickens; this is surely a good thing for the farmer. Sheep are doing well in this section: Merino wool is selling up to 65 cents per pound. Some good ewes and rams are for sale here.
V. G. Warner, Iowa
Breeders Are on Velvet
"There never was such a demand for breeding sheep," said Jesse Andrews of Indiana. "A booming wool market is the one responsible factor. We have a bid on our clip of 72 cents, whereas a month ago 65 cents was the best offer available. Three years ago one sold the same wool at 21 cents and two years ago 26 cents was considered a fair price. Last year we got 40 cents in August for our clip.
"Any kind of a decent breeding ewe gets a bid and the bidder means business. Purebred ewes are fetching $80 to $100 per head. I sold a flock of ewes in July at $30 per head that were merely pretty good grades. "This stock is not eligible to registry," I explained to the purchaser.
"Hell, I want sheep, not papers," was his response.
"New York and Virginia have been free buyers this season and Ohio has shown a disposition to reinstate the sheep. The prospect before the breeder looks rosy for several years to come unless something unexpected happens."
At the Salt Lake City Ram Sale a demonstration of spray dipping will be carried on under direction of J. C. Findlay of Australia, who has installed some of these plants in the West. Under this plan sheep are dipped without being immersed in a vat. They are driven into a closed room and the dip is sprayed on them so that they are thoroughly wet. One of these plants was operated the past summer at Wamsutter, Wyoming, and is reported to have given satisfaction.
The people in charge of this demonstration agree to dip any rams purchased at this sale. We hope that flockmen will carefully examine the shower dipping, for if a way can be found to dip sheep without having to immerse them in a vat, it will greatly simplify the work of dipping and do away with most of the loss.
Loss of Ewes
A party in Ohio, who sometime in May purchased several thousand half-blood ewes in Oregon to ship to farmers in New York state, suffered very heavy losses in shipping the ewes. These were yearling ewes and were shorn and started out in good condition, but they encountered cold, stormy weather en route, and one of the men who accompanied them tells us that 700 of them died before reaching their destination. This would be a loss of about $9,000, and it is greatly regretted as the ewes were of unusually good character, and the man who was purchasing them was delivering them to farmers on a common-sense basis that would have made sheepmen out of them.
Mrs. G. W. Hudson's pet three-year-old wether sheared 30 pounds and Bozeman, Montana, papers declare this is a state record. The product was sold at 40 cents a pound. The first year it sheared 14 pounds, the second 18 and this year 30.
O' we do not mind the labor that goes with hay,
We do not kick as long's we have the hay to put away;
We do not mind the effort and we don't rise to complain,
Mighty glad to labor when we have a lot of grain;
We do not mind the trouble - we are glad enough to dig,
We have heaps of satisfaction when the crops of spuds is big;
We do not mind the sunburn or the way the skeeter stings,
We are always very happy when we get a lot of Bings;
We do not mind the backache as we weed the rows so long,
We rejoice as we anticipate a yield of onions strong;
We do not mind the spraying or the fight against the scale,
We find our compensation when the apples red don't fail;
We don't mind working early and we don't mind working late,
We know we honest farmers will win out at any rate;
We don't mind perspiration and we don't mind winter cold,
We'll have money in our pockets when our crops have all been sold.