The Editor's Box
Postwar economics have brought into business many new words and practices. The "new competition" is the subject of much thought and discussion in business circles. Merchants and manufacturers who are slow to adjust their methods and ideas to the altered conditions complain of bad business while more adaptable competitors forge ahead.
Margins between costs and present selling prices of lambs and wool are by no means large. Unusually favorable feed and range conditions this year have permitted some profit to most flock owners, but sales at the same level would mean operating losses in years of storm and drought, such as have not been infrequent in the past.
One of the best aids in limiting expenses in running sheep without foolishly reducing returns is the use of the "budget" idea presented in this issue by Professor Potter.
Bankers are not exempt from the necessity of employing new methods and the sheep raiser who handles his finances in a modern way needs, and is entitled to, a different rating as to his credit. As Professor Potter has pointed out, the governing point in loans to stockmen should be the ability to repay as shown by budgets based upon actual experience, and not the statement of assets which often are unproductive, or are in the hands of borrowers who can not show by the budget their ability to make payments from earnings.
Cooperation for Professors:
Agriculture owes a great deal to the leaders in our agricultural colleges for aiding in the evolution and introduction of new ideas and new practices. While the cooperative idea may sometimes have been recommended as the cure for conditions needing other or additional remedies, it has done a great deal and will do still more to benefit the interests of both producers and consumers of agricultural products, including those of live stock.
A hasty review of reports of feeding experiments conducted at a number of state colleges, such as preceded the writing of the article along that line in this issue, suggested the outstanding need of better cooperation between the investigators. Apparently no attempt is being made to have the various sets of experiments planned or reported in a way that will permit the layman in whose interest the work is supposed to be done to assemble or compare the results of various tests.
The same combination of feeds are used at two or more stations, but diversity in methods of reporting or in prices attached to the feeds used renders it impossible to compare or harmonize the findings of the different investigators. Some cooperative scheme of planning the different states' feeding experiments and of assembling and examining results for publication would be helpful to feeders and also should clarify matters for the experimenters themselves.
How High Are Lambs:
Representatives of the National Wool Growers Association, in recent conferences with packers, were met with the assertion that "lamb prices are very high."
It is about time for sheepmen themselves, their bankers, and associated interest, to get away from the custom of thinking in terms of the last generation and start to considering facts and conditions as they really are.
Is fourteen cents, which is the ruling figure at Chicago this season for high qualified fat lambs, a high price? Compared to figures of ten or more years ago the price is high, but what does the sheepman buy today, or what do other industries sell today, at the price level of 1915 and earlier years? Compared to the cost of raising, the prices certainly are not high. Compared to present prices of 17 cents for fat cattle and 11 ? cents for hogs, lamb prices are low.
The course of business during the last five years has demonstrated that affairs are again normal. But normal conditions and prices are not as of yore. Present prices for fat lambs cannot be considered as up to the normal of values of comparable commodities and of the expense level of lamb-producing enterprises. Why this is so is a much involved question. There is a small net increase this year in the country's production of lambs, but there does not appear to be the same extent and character of competition between the buying interests at the large markets that usually has been in evidence.
Feeder lambs at fourteen cents and upwards in central states and corresponding prices in the West are not high by any standard of measurement except the standard of fat lamb prices. When that comparison is made, two questions arise: Are feeders too high? Are fat lambs too low? Apparently the price relationship that is disturbing feeders is the results of abnormally low prices for fat lambs. Will such prices be higher when the thin lambs are finished and returned to market? They should and probably will be. The decreased number of feeders that is available and being sent out to country feeders suggests a later shorter supply which should stimulate buying competition at the market. With cheaper feed to use and while getting around present prices for the gains put on, the lamb feeder can break even on a comparatively small margin, but entire dependence for a profit upon an advance in markets is not usually the best business practice, nor is it conductive to a feeling of confidence.
By no fair standard of comparison or calculation can lambs be adjudged as abnormally high in price today. It is necessary for producers of lambs and wool to insist upon, and work for prices that are consistent with the conditions and general level of prices in the present world of business.
A failure of failures, proven time and again - not only a failure, but a curse to every region where it has ever been introduced - the dry farming fake is being boosted here and there in Wyoming, by a few petty organizations and irresponsible individuals.
Whatever these people mean by such procedure, it is difficult to understand. The experience of Montana and Colorado should be an object lesson to any person with a modicum of common sense. Visit any district in either of these states where dry farming was attempted on an extensive scale; ask the average person what was the outcome, and nine cases out of ten, what will be the reply? "It ruined the country."
Even at that, conditions in these regions are much more favorable for dry farming than in Wyoming. There is more moisture. Wyoming is a stock-raising country. Stock-raising has been conducted, on an extensive scale, in this state for more than half a century. On the whole, it has been a success. Then, why seek to cripple an already established industry by the introduction of something which, as we have already said, is a proven failure?
True, the live-stock industry has had some serious setbacks within the last couple of decades. But, now, that it is being pulled out of the Slough of Despond, it would seem to any one, possessed of average intelligence, that it would be poor policy to discourage it again through the dry farming ballyhoo.
Now, the writer holds no brief for the stockmen, and is under no obligation to any of them. Some of them are not immaculate. Their methods of acquiring range have, in some instances, been far from commendable. But we must give them their due. They are still the backbone of Wyoming. Not a few little sagebrush municipalities owe their existence to the money spent, within their corporate limits, by the stockmen and their employees.
We have no hesitation in saying that half a dozen stockmen are of more benefit to a given community than half a hundred dry farmers. To be brutally frank, the class then can be allured into embarking in dry farming are not persons of much brain - or anything else. They are not a highly desirable acquisition to any community.
When in real agricultural states, such as Illinois and Ohio, the farmers are clamoring for government aid, surely farming is not a highly profitable proposition even under the most favorable conditions. Then by what means, short of super mundane, could farming - especially dry farming - be prosecuted on a paying basis in Wyoming?
A banquet was held, some time ago in a certain little town, under the auspices of the local chamber of commerce (whatever that is). Oratory broke loose with a vengeance. It would be safe to say that the gale that blew the night famous in Irish peasant lore as "the night of the big wind," was a gentle zephyr in comparison. Farming - wet, dry and moist - was the all-prevailing theme - this, too, in certain instance by rhetoricians who could hardly differentiate agronomy from astronomy.
In discussing the matter afterwards, certain prominent stockmen expressed themselves in rather strong terms. Said one well-known sheepman: "I'm sick and tired of listening to these town tinhorns boosting the dry farming humbug. I leave thousands of dollars in these towns every year, but it would seem from the actions of these chambers of commerce, or whatever you call them, that our home merchants don't appreciate it."
Another old-time stockman said: "Much more of this dry farming balder-dash, and I'll send for my goods to Omaha or some other place. These irresponsible town boosters are trying to bite the hand that feeds them."
-- A. O'Donoghue, Elkhorn Ranch, Wyo.
Russian Sheep Purchases
A press statement from Portland, Oregon, the latter part of October, announced the purchase of 10,000 Rambouillet ewes from the Baldwin Sheep Company of Madras, Oregon, by the Russian Sheep Commission. This is said to be the largest international live-stock deal ever made. The sheep were immediately shipped to New York for embarkation to Russia, with W. C. Clos, formerly of J. H. Seely & Sons Co. of Mt. Pleasant, Utah, in charge. The earlier purchases made by the commission were already on their way to Russia when this large deal was consummated. Details of many of the earlier transactions have been printed in previous issues of the Wool Grower. They did not include, however, the sale made by the Mt. Haggin Land and Live Stock Company of Anaconda, Montana. From that company the Russians secured 343 Hampshire ewes and ewe lambs and shipped them with the sheep purchased at the ram sale and immediately afterwards.
The earlier shipment also included 152 Hampshires from Frank Brown & Sons of Carlton, Oregon, fifteen Shropshires from F. H. and J. J. Thompson of Macleay, Oregon, and fifty Shropshires from the Henry French Company of Ridgefield, Wash.
Advertising the Sheep Industry
Brother Shepherd, don't spend $7,000 for a colored page in popular publications. Don't spend a cent. Do the advertising yourselves by personal contact. Don't be so modest as you have been, but magnify your calling. No sheepman need be ashamed of himself in any assembly, because no calling is worthier. Then think how valuable wool and mutton are. To 'cabbage' somebody, God might have made a better fiber than wool, but He never did. And lamb. Oh, my! No game or domestic animal or fowl equals when cooked right. Here comes Thanksgiving. Hindquarters should displace millions of "Turks." Then there is Easter when a million Italians would buy live lambs and dress them themselves if they could get them. Every sheep product is well worth talking about.
Now just think if 100,000 sheepmen would get over their modesty and each convert one person to virgin wool, or lamb, or both for a starter! Consumers are doing more of that then we are. A little propaganda would be so easy. They speak or listen in a meeting, but that does not bring converts. Speakers are no good for wool or lamb. A lot of them wear shoddy and eat sausage. It is the proletariat we want to go to. We have some of it. Lamb was worth little more than seven-year-old wether mutton in the past. It will almost go itself now, but we need to instill a whole lot of conscientious scruples against wearing shoddy. Pools are useless too. They only look for a cent or two more for wool and salaries. They never hint about the wearing quality of wool they handle, and they would not refer to the delicate aroma of lamb for pie. We must do it ourselves. We must give the uninitiated an earful. Must have them park some lamb if we must pay for it. Must tell them they can never wear out a virgin wool suit, and that they will never think of getting a new one until their wives nag them too it. We are well able to do our own advertising. Let's go.
-- W.W. Reynold, Utica, Ohio
The 1904 World's Fair - A Grand Sheep Show
By Lyndon N. Irwin, PhD
World's Fairs were especially popular during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Such fairs were the primary means to share the newest agricultural products and technologies. The 1904 St. Louis World's Fair was the largest of these fairs. In fact, nearly 20 million people came to St. Louis during the seven months that the fair was open. Although we call it the St. Louis World's Fair, the actual name of this fair was the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. It was so named because it was held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the purchase of the Louisiana Territory in 1803. The fair was intended to be held in 1903, but it was such a massive effort that it simply was not ready, so the opening date was pushed back a year.
The fair was held in what was then and is now, Forest Park, in St. Louis. The fair covered more than 1,200 acres and its magnitude was far greater than most of us can imagine. The fair featured eight large palaces plus uncountable other buildings. The Agriculture Palace was the largest and it covered about 20 acres. Amazingly, it was nearly twice as large as the domed stadiums that we have today. Everything was built on a grand scale. Even the Ferris Wheel held more than 2,000 people at one time in cars holding 60 people each. Not only did fair visitors ride the Ferris Wheel, they had parties or even got married on it. One couple fulfilled their dream of getting married on the Ferris Wheel while astride their favorite spotted horses.
World's Fairs provided visitors with the opportunity to see the newest breeds and the best animals within those breeds. For many visitors, going to the World's Fair was the trip of a lifetime. Extra trains were scheduled from all over the country to make sure that everyone who wanted to get to St. Louis could do so. Nearly all animal exhibits also arrived on the train.
Although the fair opened April 30, 1904, the livestock exhibitions were not held until late summer and fall. The horse shows were scheduled to begin on Aug. 24, 1904. The livestock area (in the southwest corner of the fairgrounds, south of the Agriculture Palace) was still under construction throughout the spring and summer because it would not be needed until August. However, when the horses started arriving in late August, exhibitors found that the horse barns were not yet roofed and the Livestock Forum (show arena) was far from ready. There was also difficulty in convincing train engineers to take cars with horses into that area of the fairgrounds.
Apparently, fair managers had not made the proper arrangements with the rail companies. Therefore, some horses were forced to remain in train cars during sweltering heat while such arrangements were made. To make matters worse, when the train cars carrying the horses reached the livestock area, there were no unloading facilities. Therefore horse exhibitors had to be creative to come up with something to use. But the horses did eventually get unloaded and the horse shows were successful.
The cattle started arriving soon after the horses had left the fair. Everything was more ready for the cattle than it had been for the horses. Walkways and streets had been covered with cinders so that the fair visitors and the livestock could stay out of the mud. The horse stalls had been cut down to cattle height and the cattle shows got off to a much more positive start than the horse shows had just two weeks before.
The cattle shows were held from September 12 to the end of September. The sheep, hogs and goats then arrived and the World's Fair Sheep Shows opened on Oct. 5, 1904. The sheep show was described as the largest and best show ever held anywhere in the world. The best sheep from two continents were shown -- 2,294 head. More than $50,000 in premiums were offered in just the sheep show. This translates to nearly a million dollars by 2004 standards. So it is no wonder that people brought sheep from all over the country to compete.
The sheep exhibitors arrived to find that their pens were not quite ready. Many of the stalls had not been cleaned out from the recent cattle shows. Also, fair carpenters were trying to put gates on the cattle stalls, converting them into pens that would be necessary for sheep. This job was not complete when the sheep arrived, so those shepherds with some carpentry skills quickly made their own gates.
The sheep shows went rather smoothly, but the first controversy was about the location of the actual shows. The sheep shows were scheduled to be held in the large Livestock Forum, which was some distance from the sheep barns. Sheep exhibitors protested that they could not be expected to lead (or drag) their animals all the way to the Forum. However, the fair management prevailed and all shows were held in the Forum as planned. It was later noted that there were few problems in getting the sheep to the Forum. However, it was also noted that there were few spectators in the stands of the Livestock Forum during the sheep shows.
Large amounts of money had been invested by some exhibitors in order to insure a winning entry. However, when some high-dollar animals did not win as expected, those exhibitors complained. Protests were lodged against the judges of the Shropshire, Hampshire, Oxford and Southdown breeds. One magazine described the show scene: "a more ferocious lot of kicking was never seen in a show yard. The atmosphere was simply blue with its fumes. Whispers of judges being 'fixed' were quite common."
The biggest problem of the sheep shows involved the Fair's shearing rule. The rule was that "all sheep and goats must have been evenly, closely and properly shorn on or after the first day of April 1904." Each exhibitor was required to sign an affidavit that the rule had been followed. Obviously, some exhibitors signed the affidavit, but had not followed the rule. The American Sheep Breeder magazine sarcastically commented, "Some of the exhibits carried abnormally long fleeces considering they were shorn after April 1. What fleeces they must have at a year's growth!" Two fine wool flocks were disqualified because of excessively long wool on their entries. The rule was not enforced at all on the mutton breeds because wool was not considered important in such meat breeds.
The shearing rule seemed to particularly impact the Rambouillet breed. Some sheep were brought long distances. For example, R. A. Jackson of Dayton, Wash., brought his 'Tucannon' flock of Rambouillet sheep 13 days over long, hot and hilly terrain to get to the World's Fair in St. Louis. It was noted that even though the sheep may have been a bit "worse for wear" after the long trip, their high quality was obvious. However, the Jackson flock was eliminated from many of the older sheep classes because their wool was too long to have been sheared after the April 1 announced deadline. The Jackson lambs were allowed to compete. The "Black Diamond" flock of Shaw and Bader from Marets, Ohio, was also disqualified because of too much wool.
The President of the Rambouillet breed association was John H. Seely of Utah. Although he had good sheep, they were described as too closely shorn and travel worn because they had traveled so far to get to St. Louis. Exhibitors agreed that if the western sheep could have had the 'bloom' of eastern sheep, the judging might have gone differently.
The Merino exhibition was also particularly notable. The 154 American Merinos (the wrinkly, heavy-fleeced type) shown in the 'A' class at St. Louis made up what was said to have been the show of a lifetime. It was a collection of old basic and historic, not to mention classic, animals of the Merino breed. It was claimed that the 1904 Merino show was the most memorable show of this breed in American history.
The American Sheep Breeder stated, "The Columbian Merino show of 1893 was grand, but this was transiently brilliant." This statement referred to the St. Louis World's Fair in comparison to the Chicago World's Fair and its Merino show.
Judging the "A" class Merinos was E. D. King, who had bred Spanish type Merinos for a third of a century. He was said to have shown expert knowledge of the breed and the onlookers were satisfied with his judging capabilities. He, however, judged the Spanish type lower, which was said to have been judicially correct.
Helser Dean, C. H. Bell, Williamson, E. M. and H. E. Moore, Cook and the Baldwins were said to have shown beautiful Merinos. However, they were somewhat of the old-time Spanish type and received less recognition from the judge. A Baldwin Company Spanish Merino ram was claimed to have weighed 280 pounds and its fleece 52 pounds.
The Delaine Merinos, a less wrinkled type of Merino, also made a record show in the quality of the 120 sheep shown. The American Sheep Breeder stated, "It was still the greatest aggregation of high class and superbly fitted Delaines ever seen at a show occasion."
Taking home several awards was R. D. Williamson of Xenia, Ohio, with 26 head that showed more Delaine quality. He had been building his flock for this show for two years. So it was not surprising when Judge Cowden gave him first on aged ram, yearling ram, get of sire, produce of ewe, aged flock, young flock, flock bred by exhibitor, ram champion, ewe champion, grand ram championship, both premier championships and a long list of lesser prizes.
The wether show, as it was called, had an embarrassing judging decision. The wether show included purebred and grade lambs that were judged by the same judges of the breeding animals in the specific breeds. The overall wether champions were then selected by J. C. Duncan, Lewiston, N.Y. Duncan selected a Shropshire wether as champion. However, it was soon pointed out that that the winner was in fact not even a first place winner. After being disqualified for this "breach of etiquette" and a 'courteous' protest by Telfer Brothers, the reserve animal was named grand champion.
The sheep shearing competitions took place on October 12 and 13. There was wide-spread interest and enthusiasm surrounding the shearing competitions. Professional shearers gathered in hopes of setting new world records. Many other contributors to the United States and foreign wool industries were also present. The combined efforts of the officers of the International Sheep Shearing Festival Association and the contest judges made the event successful. It was estimated that more than 25,000 people observed the events over the two-day competition.
There were 11 individual events, with the winners of these events being awarded a share of $1,125. Each winner was awarded $125 and one of 11 solid silver cups that were designed specifically for the competition in St. Louis. The general public cheered on the contestants as they were entertained by demonstrations of shearing expertise.
The sheep shearing competitions were unique to the St. Louis Worlds Fair. A special committee composed of expert machine shearers, machine shearer manufacturers and owners of machine plants were assembled to draw up the rules and regulations for the contests. Protests and disputes were absent from this competition.
The October St. Louis weather was said to be just perfect for the sheep shows. The rains that plagued the horse and cattle shows ended and the sheep shows were held during beautiful "Indian Summer" weather.
The swine and sheep show closed with the awarding of premier championships for exhibitors and breeders. The championships were given to those winning the largest number of prizes in their respective classes. Secretary Stevens, Director of Exhibits F. J. V. Skiff and Chief Charles F. Mills of the Livestock department addressed the winners briefly.
Director F. J. V. Skiff afterwards presented the banners that signify the premier championship of various classes. Following were the awards: Sheep, premier championship for breeders-Shropshire, F. J. Campbell, Woodville, Ontario, Canada; Cotswold, W. T. Garne, Aldsworth, Glouscester, England; Oxford, James T. Hobbs, Malsey, Hampton, England; Southdown, George A. Drummond, Beaconsfield, Province of Quebec, Canada; Hampshire, W. A. Cripps, Hampton, England; Cheviot, Howard B. Kern; A. W. Smith, Maple Lodge, Ontario, Canada; Merino, A. T. K. Bell West Brighton, N. Y.; Merino, R. D. Williamson, Xenia, O; Ramboullet, Baldwin Sheep and Land Company, Hay Creek, Oregon, Dorset, R. Stuyvesant, Allamuchy, N. J. Lincoln, J. T. Gibson, Denfield, Ontario, Canada; Angora Goats, C. P. Barley & sons, San Jose, Cal.
Sheep premier championship for exhibitors Shropshire, F. J. Campbell, Woodville, Ontario, Canada, Cotswold, Lewis Bros., Camp Point Illinois, Oxford, William A. McKennow, Pewankee, Wis., Hampton, John Milton, Marshall Mich., Cheviot, M. F. and S. E. Lantz, Carlock Ill., Leicester, A. W. Smith, Maple Lodge, Ontario, Canada, Merino, A. T. K Bell, West Brighton, N. Y., R. D. Williamson, Xenia, O; Rambouillet, Baldwin Sheep and Land Company, Hay Creek, Ore., Dorset, John A. McGillvray, Exbridge, Ontario, Canada, Lincoln, J. T. Gibson, Denfield, Ontario, Canada; Angora goats, C. P. Bailey and Sons, San Jose, Cal.
It must have been a memorable experience to have shown at this, the grandest of the big World's Fairs - 100 years ago.
References: American Sheep Breeder, 1904; The Breeder's Gazette, October 12, 1904; Farmer Stockman, October 20, 1904; World's Fair Bulletin, "Awards in the Live Stock Department.", World's Fair, St. Louis, October 1904.
About the Author: Dr. Lyndon Irwin is a professor of animal science at Southwest Missouri State University, where he specializes in historical agricultural research. He has spent several years researching the agricultural events at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair in anticipation of the centennial commemoration of that event in 2004. SMS students Amanda Smith, Meridee Haworth and Kerry Daly assisted with the breed research. Irwin serves on the American Sheep Industry Association's Executive Board as the Region IV director.