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Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland
On the Cheviot Breed of Sheep


By David Archibald, Duddingston, South Queensferry.
[PremiumTen Sovereigns.]

To many it may appear unfortunate that the Highland and Agricultural Society should have selected the Cheviot breed of sheep as one of their essay subjects in a year when the times are so depressed.

The season 1879, it is almost needless to say, will be remembered as one of the worst of the century. Regarding the springs of 1816, 1837, 1838, and 1860, there are accounts of great losses; and the year through which we have just passed will always be classed as nearly, if not altogether, equal in severity to any of these. Into any minute account of this year's storms it is, of course, not permissible to enter; but, at the same time, it is certainly worthy of being put upon record that, throughout the winter and spring of 1878-79, hand-feeding was in many places carried on by Cheviot owners for as many as twenty weeks, and that in the North the loss of a sum equal to two—and, in some cases, to three—rents of the farm will not be uncommon.

The development of the type of sheep named after the Border hills is a matter of less uncertainty than the origin of the breed. A consultation of most reliable authorities leads, however, to the belief that there were in the early days of pastoral farming a good many native breeds in different parts of Scotland, which were prevented from crossing, and so becoming one common variety, by the isolation in which they were then, of necessity, kept.

From one of these stocks, Cheviots are, it is safe to infer, descended; any tradition as to their importation into the country being utterly unsupported by anything that is known. One very notable fact is that, in a reference to the agriculture carried on by the monks in the middle ages, Cosmo Innes, in his history of that period, devotes an entire paragraph to a description of the practice of the sheep-farming churchmen of Teviotdale. "The monasteries of Teviotdale," this writer says, "had necessarily a great extent of pasture land, and the minute and careful arrangement of folds in their mountain pastures for sheep, and byres for cattle, and of lodges or temporary buildings for their keepers and attendants, shows that they paid the greatest attention to this part of their extensive farming." "But," it is added, and the remark is suggestive of the lead which the Church then took in every matter, "the immense number and variety of agricultural transactions, the frequent transference of lands, the disputes and settlements regarding marches, the precision and evident care of leases, the very occurrence so frequently of names of field divisions and of boundaries between farms settled by King David in person, shows an enlightened attention and interest in agricultural affairs that seem to have issued from the monastery, and reached the whole population during the period of natural peace and good government which was so rudely terminated by the wars of the succession."

Just when this pleasant stage had been reached, and when most likely improvements were in progress which, had they been followed out, would have influenced considerably the after-history of Border stock breeding, the country was plunged into troubles and disorders, and people, deprived of security of possession, rapidly fell back into that comparatively degraded state out of which they had been elevated. From the time of Bannockburn till the Act of Union was passed at the beginning of the eighteenth century, the minds of Borderers were occupied only with schemes of depredation. One Border raid followed another as soon as plans of inroad or revenge could be matured: and as the live-stock possessions of the men on both sides of the boundary-line were often on the move from one stronghold to another, it was of course impossible that more could be done than keep the breed in existence. Of sheep there appears, indeed, to have been but a small number left in the district, for, in the plunder that one Borderer made from another, it is seldom that flocks are heard of,—the booty almost always consisted of herds of cattle, which were driven before the horsemen. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, on the union of the two crowns, some slight improvement took place, as appears from Lord Napier's "Treatise on Practical Store-Farming." It was not, however, till a feeling of security was restored by the Act of Union in 1707 that pastoral prosperity returned; and, after a lapse of only forty or fifty years, the discriminating treatment of stock by a Roxburghshire farmer, Mr Robson of Belford, then led to a fair start being made with the development of the present variety of sheep. In working out his system of crossing, Mr Robson, as has before been indicated,, undoubtedly used what were then the representatives of old native flocks.

What the characteristics of these were has been told by one or two authorities. Youatt, in his valuable volume on the sheep, says, that—"on the upper part of that hill in Northumberland, which is properly termed the Cheviot, a peculiar and most valuable breed of sheep is found, and they have been there from time immemorial. Tradition says they came from the border districts of Scotland ; but they are totally different from the blackfaced sheep, and bear little or no resemblance to the original dunfaced Scottish stock." Then, again, Professor Low, in his work on the "Domestic Animals of Great Britain," states that— "the Cheviot breed of sheep is derived from a district of Porphyry, situated in the north of Northumberland, and extending into Scotland, forming the mountains termed Cheviot. This district has produced from time immemorial a race of sheep entirely distinct in its characters from the wild heath breed of the elevated moors adjoining."

"The Cheviot sheep," Professor Low further mentions, although he fails to give an explanation as to whether he refers to the unimproved or the improved animal, without which his information is all but worthless, "are destitute of horn in the male and female; their faces and legs are white, exceptions merely occurring in the case of individuals, in which these parts are dun."

As to the breed which Mr Robson used to supply the defects that he considered inherent to his native sheep, a good many contradictory opinions have been expressed. The late Patrick Sellar, for example, from information obtained in Herefordshire, ascribes the improvement to breeding from some tups, other than Leicesters, recommended to a Border farmer by Mr Bakewell.

In recent discussions on this question this theory has been properly left altogether out of account, and the point in dispute has been whether Lincolns or Leicesters were the strain that was introduced. One writer, who has within recent years dealt with the subject on two different occasions, has expressed an opinion first on the one side and then on the other, giving in his earlier writing the preference to the Lincolns, on the authority of a grandson of Mr Robson, and in the other instance pronouncing in favour of the Leicesters, on the not very convincing ruling of "an old man, whose father was shepherd with Mr Robson at the time." Youatt and some others leave the matter untouched, but fortunately two valuable pieces of evidence that have not, so far as is known, had hitherto the consideration they deserve, are found in Douglas's "Survey of Roxburghshire," published in 1796, and in the volume of "The Farmer's Magazine" for 1803. In the first of these publications it is narrated that "Mr John Edmistoun, late of Mindrum; Mr James Robson, then at Phil-hope (who, it is incidentally mentioned, came to Scotland in 1760), and Mr Charles Kerr, then at Ricaltoun," went to Lincolnshire about the year 1756 and bought 14 tups, with which they crossed their sheep with great success. The statements made in the "Farmer's Magazine" are equally clear. Giving "an account of the Northumberland breed of sheep, and the progressive improvements thereupon made," a contributor to this magazine, who signs himself "A Northumberland Farmer," incidentally makes reference to Mr Robson's selection in terms that corroborate the account given in the "Survey," and, like it, prove the opinion current in the district within living memory of the event to have been unshaded by any doubt.

In discussing the difference between what he calls the coast breed, which had its habitat from North Durham southwards to the parish of Warkworth, and the "mugged" or woolly-faced variety, native to the Glendale or Coquetdale Wards, this "Farmer" states that "the superiority of the coast breed was obtained by frequent crosses with the Lincolnshire breed, which at that time were of a more feeding quality, and finer woolled than some years afterwards, previous to their being crossed with the new Leicesters." And then he comes to mention in this connection Mr Robson's breeding. "As a proof," he writes, "of the fineness of Lincolnshire wool at the period alluded to, I need only observe that the late Mr James Robson of Chatto, a most respectable man, and breeder of Cheviot sheep, who then lived at Scotch Belford, purchased some tups from a Mr Mumby, near Barton-upon-Humber, in Lincolnshire, who at that time stood high as a ram breeder. These tups, without injuring the quality, greatly increased the quantity of wool, and gave Mr Robson such a decided superiority over his hill neighbours that for many years, after making the cross, he sold more tups than one half of hill farmers put together."

After the lines had thus been laid for improvement upon a oasis, as to which there need be no doubt, the breed rapidly grew in merit and in favour. Of their appearance, now that they had become so popular, there are many descriptions, the best known among which is probably that given in 1792 by Sir John Sinclair, [On the establishment of the British Wool Society in 1791 by the late Sir John Sinclair, in conjunction with a considerable number of noblemen and gentlemen, for the purpose of improving the quality of wool by introducing the breeds of sheep most suitable to the different districts of Scotland, several delegates were appointed to visit the principal sheep districts of England and Scotland to examine the different breeds and report upon their respective merits. During these investigations, a breed was discovered on the borders of England and Scotland, which Sir John considered well-suited for being bred and reared in Highland districts. They were white-faced, and from their length were called '' the long sheep," in contradistinction to the short or blackfaced breed. To these sheep Sir John gave the name of "the Cheviot breed," from the circumstance that they were found in greatest perfection among the Cheviot Hills, and that he wished to name them after a district so memorable in the history and traditions of the country—the Cheviot Hills being the scene of many conflicts between the English and the Scotch. The name soon became a household word, for, on Mr Nasmyth, one of the agents of the British "Wool Society, visiting the southern districts of Scotland some time afterwards, he found the long hill sheep of the east border were better known even then by the name of Cheviots, and that the short hill sheep, or blackfaced, were in some places termed the forest or Linton breed.— Editor.] who took from the Cheviot Hills 500 sheep, and placed them in Langwell, a farm on the southern boundaries of Caithness-shire, and which afterwards, when in the possession of the late Mr Donald Home, became known in connection with successful show-yard appearances of the breed. Sir John, who was thus the means of having the sheep introduced into Caithness-shire, does not deal out his praise in any stinted way. In the Cheviot, he thinks the country had what might be called a perfect mountain sheep, both in respect to form and fleece. "Perhaps," he says, " there is no part of the whole island where at first sight a fine-woolled breed of sheep is less to be expected than among the Cheviot Hills. During winter the hills are covered with snow for two, three, and sometimes four months, and they have an ample proportion of bad weather during the other seasons of the year, and yet a sheep is to be found that will thrive even in the wildest part of it. Their shape is excellent, and their fore-quarter in particular is distinguished by such justness of proportion as to be equal in weight to the hind one. Their limbs are of a length to fit them for travelling, and enable them to pass over bogs and snows through which a shorter-legged animal could not penetrate."

With this sketch of their characteristics, Mr Culley, an authority whose opinion cannot be passed by, does not agree, because, he says,—"forequarter wanting depth in the chest, and breadth both there and in the chine." A third opinion, which is of some weight, is that of "The Lammermuir Farmer," a breeder and careful observer of sheep who lived in the early part of the present century, and whose opinion has been honoured in being quoted by Darwin. This "Farmer" says that "they are hornless, the face and legs generally white, the eye lively and prominent, the countenance open and pleasing, the ear large, and with a long space from the ear to the eye, the body long, and hence they are called long sheep, in distinction from the blackfaced breed. They are full behind the shoulder, they have a long staight back, they are round in the rib and well-proportioned in their quarters, the legs are clean and small-boned, and the pelt is thin but thickly covered with fine short wool. The wool extends over the whole of the body and comes forward behind the ear, but leaves the face uncovered."

During the time that these pictures were being drawn of them, Cheviot sheep were gradually spreading themselves over a wider and wider range of country. Both in the south and north did they challenge the blackfaces, and drive this breed away from grounds on which they had grazed for many years. The then Lord Napier, in giving evidence before a Committee of the House of Lords which sat about the beginning of the century, says of the current of opinion that set in about the year 1800, that it had caused Cheviot stock to be substituted for blackfaced throughout the Forest of Ettrick and the whole of Selkirkshire; and the late Patrick Sellar, referring to the change of fancy that had come into operation in the north, states that in Sutherlandshire this favourite breed increased in numbers so much that, whereas in 1805 the district contained only a few hundreds, 100,000 fleeces and 20,000 ewes and wedders belonging to one grazier were sent out of the county in 1820. Quite in keeping with this run of popularity is the opinion expressed by Youatt as late as 1837—"The contest," Youatt mentions, "is still being carried on between these valuable breeds, but decidedly in favour of the Cheviots. With every improvement in agriculture they advance. From simple cold their fine and close coat protects them perhaps more effectually than the coarser and looser one of the blackfaced; they may not be quite so patient endurers of hunger, but even on scanty fare they will thrive as well as their rivals. On average, or somewhat superior, pasture they will leave them far behind; and the time will probably arrive when, with the exception of a few and not very extensive districts, it will be acknowledged to be the only breed worthy of the Highlands of Scotland,"—a conclusion that was no doubt warranted at the time, but which has since been proved incorrect.

Between the years 1800 and 1860 the tide continued to run in favour of the breed. In that time the blackfaced disappeared from nearly all the best farms in the south of Scotland, except to the mountainous districts of Ayrshire and Lanarkshire, and even in these their grazings were encroached upon. Throughout Caithness and Sutherland Cheviots were found almost everywhere; and there was a large proportion of them in Ross-shire, Inverness-shire, Argyleshire, and Perthshire. Since 1860, however, the breed has lost ground owing to causes that will be afterwards touched upon.

In the management of this breed there is considerable variety of practice, and, in describing their treatment, it is therefore necessary to distinguish between the styles that are found in three great divisions of country. First, there is what is called the west-country system, which is followed in Selkirkshire, the western part of Roxburghshire, Peeblesshire, Dumfriesshire, and Kirkcudbright; then the east border system, which prevails in the eastern part of Roxburghshire and Northumberland; and, thirdly, the north-country practice, which extends over the counties of Sutherland, Caithness, Ross, Inverness, and Argyle. In respect of its popularity as well as of its own excellence, the west-country management, which has now supplanted the east border practice over a large stretch of country, claims precedence.

In indicating the routine of events on the farm, the most suitable time at which to make a start is perhaps about the middle of October, after the draft ewes have been sent away, and the flock adjusted to the number which the holding is capable of keeping. Throughout what has been termed the west country, it should, however, be first stated, the stocks range in numbers from 60 to 100 score, reaching in a few instances as high a total as between 3000 and 4000; and the rent, which has risen 2s. or 3s. per head within the last ten years, is generally from 10s. to 12s. per head, though in some cases even more than the latter figure is paid.

In the treatment of his sheep the first principle acted upon by the farmer is, that all ages shall graze together. As in this particular his east border neighbour differs from him, the west-countryman has a right to have it stated for him that his practice has received the commendation of so high an authority as Little. This well-known writer, in his work on "Mountain Sheep," points out with great clearness what occurred to him as the advantages of this system:—"When the ewes and gimmers and the hoggs go at large on the same pasture," he writes, "the land is more equally pastured; there is no trouble or danger in shifting; the hoggs, in time of storm, are better led in search of food along with the old sheep than by themselves; being continued in the place where they were lambed, they are not so apt to stray from the farm; and the shepherds are not at so great a loss in looking over the hill or sheepwalk in storms."

Passing from this, the first part of the year's work to be noticed is the dipping. This operation the majority of farmers prefer to see carried through about the end of October; some, on the other hand, delay the work till the month of January or February; and this practice, though it is not as yet the most extensively adopted, is perhaps the most judicious, seeing that the sheep can be freed from vermin much better at this later period than they can possibly be in October, when, in fact, very few of these pests are developed. To the late dipping the only objection that can be urged is the difficulty of falling upon suitable weather; but, when the advantages derived are in the one case substantially greater than in the other, the inconvenience of one or two delays and disappointments may very well be submitted to. The dips which give most satisfaction are those in which carbolic acid is the active ingredient. Of the use of arsenic many farmers have almost a superstitious horror, it never occurring to them that in many of the dips which they freely use this useful though poisonous material is present. Instead of burning the wool, or bringing out the teeth of the animal, arsenic has been found by extensive flock-masters to be exceedingly efficacious, so long, of course, as it is used with care and judgment. One mixture which has been used by a few, year after year, with uniform success is very simple in its character, it being possible for any farmer to prepare it for himself: it consists of 1 gallon of soluble carbolic acid, adding about 90 gallons of water, and then mixing with these 2 lbs. of arsenic which has been dissolved by being slowly boiled in 2 or 3 gallons of water with about 4 lbs. of pearl ash or washing soda. With this dip stock can be treated at the cost of about 4s. 6d. per 100,—the price of 1 gallon of carbolic acid, which, with the proper addition of water, is sufficient for this number, being 4s., and of the arsenic and soda, 6d.

The old custom of smearing with tar and butter, which was common enough thirty or forty years ago, has, it should be mentioned, almost died out. Whether or not it was formerly the case that an unsmeared sheep was generally a lean sheep, the experience now-a-days in the south country is, that the animals derive no benefit from the operation, or, at all events, no benefit which will repay the necessary expense.

The October dipping over, the next matter to engage attention is the stock-keeling of the different hirsels, each of which has its own mark. At this time account is also taken of the number of the stock.

Then follows the tupping of the ewes, as to the proper time for which hill-farmers are more agreed than they are about anything else, the 22d November being the day almost invariably recognised as the beginning of the tupping season. Within ten days after the rams are sent out to the hill, the hoggs, not being wanted to breed, are bratted. To one tup the number of ewes commonly assigned is three score. Where tup lambs are bred— and it need hardly be said it is always a useful thing to have a number of this class of stock—proper care should be taken to see that a select number of ewes are "shed" to a select ram.

As to the bringing in of the tups, some little difference of opinion has arisen, a number, and no doubt this section is in the majority, keeping by the 1st January as the proper time, while others delay for ten or twelve days longer. When the tups are left the longer time with the ewes, the number of eild sheep is reduced ; and this the supporters of the old system do not deny, their contention being, that where ewes continue lambing into June, it is after all better to have them eild. The answer to this objection, and it is difficult to see that it is not a sufficient one, is, that when there is a late ewe lamb to sell, as high a figure may be obtained for it as for any lamb sent off the farm, and that even when the lamb is a male it leaves a profit, excepting only when the mother is one of the old ewes.

In the winter there is often, as farmers have sometimes learned to their cost, considerable difficulty in keeping the stock in satisfactory condition. Should artificial or hand-feeding become necessary, the fodder most in favour and most to be commended is bog hay. The practice of feeding with corn seldom gives satisfaction, as this indulgence generally causes serious deterioration in the habits of the sheep, and even hay should be used only in extreme cases. At no season is the skill of the shepherd of greater importance to his master than at this,—a man who lays out his sheep judiciously, so as to work through the storm without help, almost always finishing better than his neighbour who resorts to hay.

As lambing approaches, two preparations for this critical season should be made, the udder locking of the gimmers and hoggs,which, though not generally practised, is decidedly advantageous, and the drawing out of the leanest and some of the apparently twin-bearing ewes to any enclosure there may be upon the farm. These enclosures or parks the tenant may find of the greatest service, and where the land is suitable, and there are few farms on which some place of the kind cannot be found, it is essential that they should be provided, the proprietor bearing, perhaps, the greater part of the expense. With these parks under rotation to work with, the farmer is enabled to supplement his sheep-breeding by grazing a few cattle, these animals, after being housed in winter, taking the place of the ewes on the hills when the latter are drawn into the parks, and being afterwards, in June, before they have had an opportunity of damaging the pastures, brought back to the enclosures which the sheep have just left. Where the land is not suitable for ploughing, farmers might perhaps adopt a practice which is seen in several districts where the parks, after being enclosed, are drained and limed, and then grazed with cattle and cropped with hay alternately. With these precautions taken, the farmer has then to wait for the beginning of lambing, which takes place on the 17th April. It is this period into which the anxieties of the year are in a great measure compressed, and when a good shepherd is again able to prove his value to his master, his superior skill being often apparent by the way in which, in stormy weather, he uses his knowledge of the ground in the selection of sheltered places for the ewes.

To one man the entire hirsel allotted is commonly thirty score, this number being reckoned to afford him pretty constant work, and an assistant being generally allowed at this season when a larger stock is under his care, or even sometimes when the land is of such a nature that it is difficult to attend to the thirty score. Where the tups have been taken off the hill on the 1st of January, lambing is brought to a close about the old term day, the 26th of May; but, of course, if the tupping has been allowed to continue ten days longer than usual, it is not till the end of the first week in June that the shepherd gets through this part of his work.

Of tup eild sheep the average is as a rule one to the score. Twin lambs, unless for " beating up the deaths," are no advantage, except where the farmer has parks to keep them till about the end of June, after which they will do well on the hill. The ability to work in this way with twins is, of course, another benefit obtained from enclosing ground.

Within nine or ten days after lambing is over the castration of the lambs is begun, and the selection of those that are to be kept as tups is then made. About this operation of castration there is a pretty widespread belief that it is only some shepherds having a special aptitude for the work who are likely to make a "lucky cutting," and if all that was wanted to support this theory was the fact that occasionally serious loss results from the handling of the lambs at this time, it would be sufficiently well borne out. The cause of any exceptional fatality is, however, as a rule, to be found not in the castration itself, but in the manner in which the lambs are brought together, as in this matter there is sometimes a little thoughtlessness where the greatest care should be taken. This being the first occasion of the lambs being gathered together, the folding is a new experience to them, and, what between the loss of their mothers and the noise that often prevails, it is a very easy thing to throw the still delicate little animals into a state of heat and excitement that altogether unfits them for undergoing any operation. The best preventive against fatal results is accordingly to secure that the folding shall be done as quietly and carefully as possible, and that in the subsequent handling of the lambs all unnecessary roughness be avoided. Sometimes, no doubt, even when the treatment of the lambs has been all that could be wished, a large loss has been sustained, but when the precautions in question are taken, the death-rate is usually a good deal less than it would otherwise be. The system of operating that is almost everywhere adopted is still the old fashioned one of the shepherd working upon the lamb with his teeth, taking care at the same time to hold well back with his hands so as to keep pressure away as much as possible from the bowels. A new-method of operating by means of hot irons has been introduced, but as yet it has not been adopted to any extent except in the Tyne districts of Northumberland. For this system the advantages claimed are that, treated with it the lambs are less liable to death than in the other case, and that (though this opinion may be much doubted) the masculine character of the animal is less destroyed; but perhaps the reason which has most favoured its adoption has been that with it castration may be delayed for some little time, giving the lambs, of course, time to become stronger.

In different seasons the death-rate among the lambs varies very much. A percentage of one in the score is always reckoned a serious loss, but it has sometimes happened that as many as ten per score have dropped off, while, on the other hand, there have been seasons when among a thousand there would not be more than five lambs lost.

About the 20th or 25th June, when washing is begun, the old sheep again come in for their share of attention. In arranging for washing, the farmer should always bear in mind that it is desirable to allow an interval of at least ten days between this work and clipping time, seeing that if the wool is taken from the sheep too soon after it has been cleansed the effect upon the animal cannot be good, while the fleece itself is most likely shorn when it is under its proper natural weight, owing to the sap not having had time to return. In washing, prior to which, as in the case of castration, all unnecessary bustle and heating should be prevented, the sheep are usually made to swim twice through a pond or washing pool, and, after this simple cleansing, the animals are in ten days' time ready for the shears. The old practice of clipping upon stools is still pretty common, but when big heavy sheep have to be dealt with, it is perhaps most advisable to clip them on the ground without tying their feet, the other method exposing the animals to considerable risk of bruises and internal injuries. It is imperative in all cases that the sheep be not clipped except when their coats are perfectly dry. In connection with this work, two other duties are also overtaken—the counting of the stock and the buisting or branding of the sheep with the initials of the owner or any other stamp that is in use in the flock. The average clip of a Cheviot may be stated at 4 lbs., it being considered a large return when this is exceeded. For the disposal of their fleece flock-masters have great facilities provided at the three largely attended markets of the year—Hawick for the west country, Jedburgh for the east borders, and Inverness for the north,—and at the numerous wool sales at Edinburgh and Glasgow, which are now

very largely patronised. But, notwithstanding that they have still as formerly every opportunity of securing the best terms, farmers have lately found the sale of this class of wool one of the most unsatisfactory transactions connected with sheep-farming. Formerly 36s. per stone of 24 lbs. was considered a fair average price, but at present rates are as low as from 20s. to 23s. Of this fall there was some experience last season, for the prices then current did not range higher than from 30s. to 32s., but it is only within the present year (1879) that the drop has become so great, the depreciation this season having been equal to nearly 10s. per stone. One cause of this serious depression is no doubt the prevalence of bad trade throughout the country and the consequent restriction in the expenditure of communities, and, in so far as the markets are affected by this, a revival may of course be expected. But, on the other hand, another cause that has to be taken cognizance of may not be so temporary in its operation, and this is the supply of wool sent into the home country by Australian and colonial farmers, who, by crossing their sheep with Lincoln and Leicester tups, have got into a class of fleece with which they have been able to undersell the Cheviot. After the clipping, the next work that has to be attended to is the speaning of the lambs, which takes place between the middle and the end of August. At this time a selection is made of the top ewe lambs which are to be kept for maintaining the stock; and the seconds, as well as the wedder lambs, are then put into the market. Of late, the demand for Cheviot ewe lambs has been exceptionally brisk, owing to the practice of crossing them with Leicester tups, and as high a figure as 36s. has been got, while a common price has been from 26s. to 28s. After a severe season, however, there are, unfortunately, almost none of these lambs to sell. For some time past the trade for wedder lambs has been a disappointing one. Formerly they were very much in request for grazing in Fife and one or two other north-eastern counties, but for this purpose half-breds are now the favourites. Another circumstance that has told against the trade is, that in the Highlands a good deal of land that was once under Cheviot wedders has been thrown into deer-forests, and buyers from the north have consequently had fewer commissions.

With the disposal of the draft ewes, which are, in the western district, sent away at six-year old, the year's round of management is brought to a close about the beginning of October. In regard to the payment of the shepherd, it should be mentioned that the common practice is to pay in kind,—every man having in his hirsel from forty to forty-five of his own sheep, which are handed from one shepherd to another by valuation. This system has, however, been recently discontinued on a number of farms, and the tendency is to come to a money wage. Under both systems the shepherd has a house provided, with a cow's grass, ground for potatoes, and 65 stones of meal, and, where paid in money, he receives from £30 to £33; while in the other instance, he pockets as a rule the proceeds of his pack clear of expenses.

In the east border district, where rents range about 8s. per head, and where there has not perhaps been the same rise as in the west country, the system of management differs in one or two important respects from that just described. The practice here adopted is no doubt the older of the two, and at one time west country farmers followed it; but, as has been indicated, it is now confined to a comparatively small area. In the first place, the east border man does not allow all ages of sheep to go together, but keeps one age grazing upon one part and a second age upon another, shifting the stock, as a rule, once every year. This, it is said, is necessary in order to prevent "pining," a disease which is also pretty common in the west country, where a change of food for a short time is generally found effectual in making the sheep thrive. Then, no lambs are taken from the gimmers, which consequently go eild. The wether lambs are not sold, but are kept and put on a part of the farm retained as a wether hirsel, and the draft ewes are put away at five-year old. In consequence of no lambs being taken from the gimmers and of the ewes being sold at the age mentioned, there are few ewe lambs to sell; and the revenue of the farm is therefore altogether dependent upon the wool, and the sale of the cast ewes and three-year old wethers.

In this district the time of speaning is also earlier, taking place about the middle of July. The reason of this it is difficult to conjecture, though it is not impossible that the date may never have been changed since the time when it was usual to make ewe-milk cheese. The lambs after being speaned are put to a bit of grazing called "summering ground," kept specially for this purpose. The size of the farms on the east borders is very similar to that common in the west country.

Throughout the Highland counties there is not the same uniformity in the method of farming as in the two districts already referred to. In the counties of Sutherland and Ross the practice is not unlike that of the east borders, a circumstance that may be accounted for by the fact, that it was by men from the latter district that Cheviot farming was introduced into these localities. There, of course, as in the other Highland counties, a most costly feature in the management is, the necessity of wintering part of the stock away from the farm. Some years ago, the expenses attending this were comparatively trifling, but since the farmers, who formerly provided wintering, have taken to feeding stock of their own, the cost has, within fifteen years, risen 100 per cent.

Over the whole of the north it was in the past the custom to smear all ages of the sheep about the end of October, but of late, it has been the practice to leave the hogs unsmeared, and the substitution of dipping for smearing, even with the older sheep, has been growing in favour. The objects that those who still smear have in view are,—to keep in check scab, a disease seldom met with in the south, but almost everywhere prevalent in the north, and the protection of the sheep from the weather.

In Sutherland and Ross the treatment of the flock is, as has been said, to a large extent the same as in the east borders, except that all ages of sheep are allowed to go together. On the west coast, however, the management more resembles that of the west country. There, in a great many cases, the gimmers are tupped, though, latterly, some farmers have ceased doing this, and the ewes are kept till six-year old and sometimes older. On some farms, too, the hoggs are wintered at home. The wether lambs, however, are kept in both districts and sold as three-year old wethers, and most of the ewe lambs are required to maintain the stock.

One of the greatest improvements that could be suggested regarding Highland farming in general, is, certainly, that the different holdings should be fenced, and this is said keeping quite in view the size of the farms, and the cost and difficulty that would necessarily attend the work. If the farms were in this way cut off from one another, a farmer would be able to put upon the place only what he considered a reasonable stock, and he might consequently manage to winter more sheep at home. As matters stand at present overstocking is almost everywhere the practice,—one man keeping up an excessive number, in order, as he says, to prevent his neighbour eating him up; and the blame being thus passed from one to another. Another advantage secured would be a diminution in the number of stragglers, of which there is sometimes so large a proportion, that in a flock of 6000 there may be 250 entirely lost, not to speak of the trouble, and expense, and injury incurred in the recovery of such sheep as are found. Till fencing is adopted there can be no hope of clearing the Highlands of "scab" as stragglers are at present the fruitful source of contamination. Tenants of grazings adjoining deer-forests would also greatly benefit by this improvement. On these places the sheep cause both vexation and outlay for extra herding by their constant endeavours to break through into the clear ground of the forest, and once upon this land they are beyond the reach of their owner till the shooting season is over, as sportsmen naturally enough object to have the deer disturbed. If the farms were enclosed the numerous disputes and complaints that take place on this score would, of course, be prevented. A size of farm pretty common in the north is one carrying 5000 sheep in summer, and the rent is usually from 3s. to 4s. per head, and, in rare cases, up to 7s.

The diseases to which Cheviots are subject are simply those common to other hill sheep. In the absence of any exceptional fatality the ordinary death-rate in the south is 1 per score, but in the north-west Highlands it frequently reaches 3 per score. Of the diseases the most common are "braxy," "rot," "louping-ill," "pining," "sturdy," "scab," and "foot-rot."

Braxy is a disease more of locality than breed, and is almost entirely confined to hoggs. Its appearance is usually first noted for the season about the middle of September, and the greatest loss from it occurs in the months of October and November. The loss occasioned is always worst after a dry summer, and during a rapid rush of grass in autumn. The progress of the disease is so rapid that animals, in the majority of cases, succumb without any trace of illness having been noticed. When affected sheep are observed, they are dull and listless, and considerably swollen in the belly, and able to move only with difficulty. When the illness has come to this stage death rapidly supervenes, and the carcase, when examined, is more or less blackened, and has a tendency to rapid decomposition. The bowels show signs of violent congestion, the coats being black in different places. The disease admits of no cure; but in its prevention judicious hirselling, so as to give the sheep both change of food and exercise, may have some effect. Where the loss is very heavy, the entire removal of the hoggs during the fatal season is necessary.

Rot is due to a parasite in the liver called the "fluke," and is now less prevalent since drainage has been extended. The symptoms are fully developed towards the end of spring. The animal has then frequently a "poke" or swelling under the jaw, and is emaciated in condition, and bloodless or yellow in the eyes. There is no cure for the disease at this stage.

In regard to the nature of Iouping-ill there is as yet great difference of opinion, but the subject is at present engaging the special attention of Teviotdale farmers. The disease seems to be a nervous affection marked by a great variety of symptoms, and probably arises from some form of indigestion. It may be noted that very frequently "ticks" are found in diseased land, but it cannot be considered that these are the cause of the disease though so often co-existent.

Pining, as the name implies, means a more or less rapid wasting or loss of flesh, and is due principally to the eating of too large a quantity of coarse indigestible and non-nutritious grasses. On certain farms this disease appears annually about the beginning of June, and, as in the case of braxy, the best treatment that can be adopted is careful hirselling, which means turning the sheep to the low grounds in the morning and back to the heights in the afternoon. This precaution lessens the disease very much, and removes it almost entirely in many cases.

Sturdy commonly attacks young sheep, and its symptoms are fully developed when the animal is about one year old. It is characterised by stupidity and a tendency to turn to one side, hence the use of the term "turnsick" in some localities. When this latter symptom is fully developed, it is found that the animal is blind in one eye, and that it turns to the side at which it still sees. The cause of this blindness is the existence in the head of a sack or "blob" of water, which presses upon the brain. This "blob" is a sack containing a fluid surrounding the embryo of a tapeworm peculiar to the dog, and it is not always found in the same position, hence a noticeable difference in the symptoms. When it is near the surface of the brain, the skull, over the spot, soon begins to bulge and soften. It is essential that the animal be relieved before the disease has been fully established, because the brain wastes as the "blob" grows. The best method of removing the fluid is by boring upon the blind side, and not upon the side the sheep turns to (as has been so generally believed), by means of specially prepared instruments. The opinion regarding the existence of the tapeworm is not accepted by the majority of sheep-owners and shepherds, but where the "blob" is submitted to a microscopic examination, the head and booklets of the worm are easily seen, and if these be given to a healthy dog the parasite rapidly develops itself.

Scab is a skin disease, manifested first by a discoloration of the wool on the shoulders and back, due to the sheep scratching itself in consequence of itch. When examined closely, certain spots are seen to be covered by a yellowish powder, which, if removed, discloses raw spots upon the skin, and if these are gently scratched, the animal shows evident satisfaction by movements of its mouth and feet. This is purely a contagious disease due to the presence of a parasite, termed "acarus," which rambles about the surface of the skin and breeds rapidly. It is capable of being cured by the use of a clip consisting of spirits or oil of tar, tobacco paper, soft soap, and pearl ash. To 90 gallons of water, which serve for the dipping of 100 sheep, the proper additions for this mixture are 2 gallons of spirits of tar and 10 lbs. of each of the other ingredients.

Foot-Rot is most commonly found upon soft grassy land, particularly about the end of summer when the dews become heavy. It usually begins with a " scalding " between the hoofs, which opens the foot at the heel and soon develops into a sore, discharging a thin foetid matter. The best treatment is the careful removal of all loose horn, and the dressing of the raw surface with a mixture of carbolic acid and oil, or a solution of terchloride of iron, which has a hardening effect upon the hoof. Prevention, however, it need hardly be said, is better than cure, and it has been practically proved that the driving of the sheep through troughs containing a solution of arsenic dissolved with potash, as recommended in regard to dipping, will harden the hoof and keep away the disease. This practice should be begun about the time when foot-rot is expected, and continued weekly till the middle of October. In filling the troughs, which should not contain more than 3 inches of water, the proportion of arsenic to be added is 1 lb. for every 5 gallons.

The breeding of Cheviot sale tups has of late become perhaps too much the fashion, many of the animals exposed at the annual ram sales bringing no more than butchers' prices. The breeders who have taken a really prominent position are, on the other hand, comparatively few in number. In the west country, Mr Brydon, Kinnelhead, has for many years been recognised as the most successful exposer, and next to him stand Mr Johnstone, Archbank; Mr Welsh, Ericstane; Mr Grieve, Skelfhill; and Mr Moffat, Craik. In the east borders a very considerable amount of support has been obtained by Mr Elliot, Hindhope; Mr Bob-son, Byrness; and Messrs Ord, Lumsden, while, by the Lammer-muir flock of Mr Archibald, Glengelt, a high position has also been taken.

The tastes prevailing in the different districts have led to several kinds of sheep, each having very distinct characteristics, being placed in the markets. Breeders in the west-country have given too much attention to the production of a stylish animal, without being sufficiently careful in seeing that with style was combined width round the heart, and thickness of coat. The east border sheep have, on the contrary, had better fleeces and better "middles," but they generally were deficient in quarters and head. Since 1860, however, and especially within the last ten years, the stock of both districts have been a good deal improved in their weak points, and have consequently come to resemble each other more than before.

The highest figure that has hitherto been brought by a Cheviot tup, it should be stated, is 185 guineas. For this sum the Kinnelhead ram, "Craigphadraig," the first prize tup at the Highland Society's show at Inverness in 1865, was sold at Beat-tock sale in 1867. Mr Brydon has also the credit of having obtained the highest average price ever quoted at a tup sale, having in 1865 reached £14, 14s. Next to this figure, the largest average realised at any sale has been £12, 16s., which Mr Archibald's Glengelt lot made in 1873 at Hawick.

The points of a Cheviot sheep should be, a deep well-sprung rib; its coat good in quality, thick and free from "kemp" hair, and filling the hand well; its head, while not too heavy, should be prominent and broad, well set off by a bright dark eye and erect ears of moderate length, and covered (like its legs) with clean hard white hair; its neck strong and pretty well kept up; its chest deep and wide; its shoulders lying well back; its back and loins short, firm, and broad; its quarter long and level; its thigh full; its tail broad and rough; its legs flat and clean, with well-developed joints; and its step free and active. The deterioration in the breed, of which so much has been heard, has been caused by sheep being brought out too long in the neck, and with high thin faces, which could not denote anything but diminished hardiness of constitution. Too little attention has been given to the importance of the wool being thick and good in quality, and there has also been a want of observation in not cultivating the strain of sheep that have come best through severe weather in winter and spring. In order to remedy these defects it is necessary that care be taken to have the ribs well developed, and that the fleece be always taken account of. Another point that ought never to be lost sight of is to breed from sheep possessed of good milking qualities. As a rule, the breeder should never keep on a badly nursed lamb as a tup; but, at the same time, were this rule followed too closely, injustice might be done to a gimmer, a ewe that had twins, or an animal that had met with some slight accident; and it is, therefore, better in every case to act only on personal observation as to which strain are good milkers.

In the tup trade, within the last few months, there has been one feature which cannot be regarded as other than unfortunate and unsatisfactory,—to make it a point in the selection of tups that they should be as ugly and ungainly as are to be had, without any reference to the modification of the breed in the direction just indicated. Another and very serious mistake often made is the supposition that it is the size of the sheep that has produced their softness, and that a tup cannot be had too small, it being quite forgotten that it was the want of good ribs and a looseness in fleece that was the cause of the deterioration, and that diminutive animals, unless free from these defects, cannot be hardy. The precise system most likely to give success in breeding must be ascertained by every breeder for himself, as personal observation is all-important; but there are one or two general principles that must in every case be kept in mind. Among those principles are heredity, variability, and selection; the first, a principle which necessitates careful in-and-in breeding, and the second being necessary to afford scope for selection. To a certain extent, as has been indicated, in-and-in breeding is indispensable, though, at the same time, it should be stated that among Cheviot sheep it has not been practised to the same extent as among some other breeds, of which the flocks kept are less numerous. It is only by affinity in blood that character can be fixed and retained, and that a strong family resemblance can be given to a flock, and an impressive size obtained. But, on the other hand, there is this danger connected with this system, that when it is carried to an extreme it leads to a loss of constitutional vigour and fertility, and this danger is all the more to be kept in view seeing that the evils develop themselves gradually. The strongest advocates of the principle of " in-and-in " breeding have, it is well known, taken great care to observe secrecy as to any cross they may have introduced into their flocks, in order that their reputation as breeders for special qualities might not suffer; but there can be no doubt that they, like others, have been compelled to guard against the weaknesses induced by too close relationships. As to the exact number of crosses that should be allowed, it is impossible to lay down any rule. It is, however, to be remembered that when a cross is made with altogether new blood, long lost characteristics are generally brought up in the offspring, and a greater amount of variability introduced. When, therefore, a sheep of a different family is used, a selection should be made of an animal possessing those points that are being worked for, or, it may be, of its having those qualities that may be expected to remedy defects in the original strain. In using this animal the breeder should restrict himself, in the first instance, to a comparatively small number of his best ewes, from the offspring of which he can then make a choice of tups to be retained for further crossing, this method having been found, where acted upon, very successful. When these trials are being made, the closest attention is necessary, as even with likely-looking animals the results are often disappointing. In following out the principle of selection, the systematic prosecution of one idea through a long course of years is necessary, as it is only by continually striving after the attainment of a type which is present to the mind of the breeder, and working with varieties of animals that will lead up to this mark, that any breed can be permanently altered. One important circumstance to be remembered in the management of stock is the attention demanded by the law of co-relation,—a law which connects the presence of one point in an animal with the presence of some second or attendant characteristic, and which is as yet very imperfectly understood. Of the operation of this law, Darwin has given numerous instances. White cats with blue eyes are, for example, almost invariably deaf; and pigeons that are feathered on the outside of their legs and on their toes have generally their two outer toes connected with a membrane. Among Cheviot sheep it has been observed that there is the same connection between the absence of wool from the belly and the possession of good milking qualities, and that a large number of small black " ticks " are generally found on the faces of stylish sheep, while among blackfaced stock it has been noticed that a dun-coloured face and freedom from blueness in the fleece have the same co-relation. The lesson to be deduced from this is a very obvious one,—that care must be taken, lest in the modification of one point the breeder is, at the same time, effecting a complete change in other characteristics which he did not contemplate.

Since 1860, as has been said, Cheviots have rather lost favour. This is perhaps to be accounted for by the circumstance that prior to that year their popularity was so great as to cause them to be placed on ground not adapted for them. Blackfaced stock, too, have latterly met a much better trade than they formerly did, owing to the brisk demand that has sprung up for blackfaced ewe lambs, and cast ewes for crossing purposes with Leicester tups, as well as to the advantage which their superior hardiness gives them in a severe season. But should Cheviot breeders, as a class, be wise enough to profit by the lessons which ought by this time to have been brought home to them by their exceptional experiences, it need not be long before a sheep of a sufficiently hardy character is again the prevailing type. The breed will then be able to hold its own against its opponents.


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