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Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland
The Blackfaced Breed of Sheep by David Archibald

By David Archibald, Awamoa, Otago.
[Premium—Five Sovereigns.]

There can be few more interesting subjects to breeders in Scotland than the breeding of the blackfaced sheep. These hardy animals have now gained a place and reputation for themselves that will entitle them to claim notice and attention. The breed may indeed be said to be at present the mainstay of Scottish sheep farming, as they were in the first instance largely the means of developing the pastoral resources of the country. In reference to their origin there is a good deal of uncertainty. Theories to account for it are, however, plentiful enough. To begin with, there is the usual story that they came from Spain with the Armada—a story which seems to be told about nearly all wool-bearing animals whose descent it is difficult to trace. A second tradition is, that they were introduced by one of the Scotch kings (whom Hogg calls James IV.) into Ettrick forest; but the quarter from which they were supposed to have come is a point on which this narrative is altogether silent. Another belief, which has attracted more attention than these, is that the blackfaced breed were originally the product of a cross between the goat and the old whitefaced native sheep. This is an opinion which was at one time pretty current, and is found mentioned in the works of several writers. The publication which gave most importance to it was perhaps the Old Statistical Account of Scotland. The reference to the subject occurs in the report on the parish of Urr by the Rev. James Muirhead. This writer, after pointing out "that in the reign of James VI. Galloway was understood " to produce the finest wool in Scotland, perhaps in Britain fixes the date of the introduction of the blackfaced as about the time the king left Scotland for England (in 1603), and then asks, "Whence these sheep came?" "It may be observed/' he says, "that Galloway abounds with goats, which in the marshy or soft tracts are almost uniformly of a black colour;" and then he gives some countenance to the theory that the goats and sheep bred together, mentioning that mongrels or crosses between the two animals were quite common. But while he ventures on this suggestion, Muirhead confesses that any inquiry upon the subject is not attended with much satisfaction. Then again, another and more widely accepted opinion has been, that the breed travelled northward from Yorkshire. This hypothesis was brought forward by Marshall, the author of numerous agricultural works at the end of last century. There is, however, this objection to accepting Marshall's authority, that in two separate works, published within a few years of one another, he makes statements that are slightly at variance. In a work on the Rural Economy of Yorkshire, published in 1788, in speaking of the moorland sheep, he says they " are probably of Scotch origin," adding that " they resemble much the Scotch sheep which are sometimes brought into the vale." Six years afterwards Marshall must have had but an indistinct recollection of what he had written in 1788. In an essay published in 1794, on the agriculture of the central Highlands of Scotland, he states "that the breed, which is now supplanting the ancient breed of the Highlands, is that which is well known in Scotland by the name of the blackfaced breed, which on the southern hills, as well as in the highlands or mountains of Braemar, is the established breed." Then, in dealing with the question of the origin of the breed, he gives altogether vague testimony. "Whether this breed has heretofore travelled northwards from the moorlands of Yorkshire, where a similar breed has been so long established as to be deemed natural to a heathy or mountainous situation, or whether that breed was drawn originally from Scotland, might perhaps be easily traced upon the southern borders." Further examination of the recorded opinion of many writers leads to no more satisfactory result. So much is dependent on conjecture, that it is quite impossible to form any definite opinion based on reliable grounds. This view is fortified by the position taken up by two writers whose opinion carries considerable weight. Naismyth of Hamilton, writing in Young's Annals of Agriculture, in 1796, descriptive of a visit he had made to Lammermuir, states that the breed prevalent there was "the blackfaced muir kind, having generally horns, and called the short sheep," but that "it is impossible to trace their origin, there being no traditions of the sheep here being of a different kind, nor can they be called a distinct variety of the species." A passage very similar to this occurs in a Report on the Agriculture of Peebles, written by the Rev. Mr Findlater in 1802. "There seems to be," this writer says, "no clear tradition nor even plausible conjecture as to when or whence sheep were first introduced into this country, or whether the present breed are indigenous or from another country. There is, indeed, an obscure tradition, that previous to the introduction or general prevalence of sheep in the parish of Tweedsmuir, the farmers in that parish paid their rents by grazing, for hire through summer, the oxen then generally used by Lothian farmers for their winter ploughing. The native Tweeddale breed, which has continued the same as far back as memory or tradition extends, are all horned, with black faces and black legs and coarse wool." While there is much uncertainty in connection with the origin of the breed, it is beyond doubt that the system of sheep farming began to grow in importance just at the time when blackfaced stock began to grow into a prevalent type. Napier, in his work on Store Farming, which bears the date of 1822, adopts this view. "The present system of sheep or store farming does not appear," he writes, "to have taken place till about the end of the reign of James VI.," a statement which it may be pointed out agrees with what Muirhead says in the Old Statistical Account. "Before this time," Napier explains, "the mountainous south country districts are said to have been under a stock of black cattle and some small straggling flocks of sheep, as was the case in the Highlands till of late years." It is quite in accordance with this opinion, that it is ascertained that nearly two centuries ago a breed, which was known as the Linton sheep, had established themselves pretty firmly in the south of Scotland. These sheep were also called the Forest, the Tweeddale, or the Lammermuir breed, according to the district in which they were found,—there being, however, no difference among them except in name,—and were most widely spoken of as the Linton breed, because of that village in Peeblesshire being the principal market for them, and a very important market it at one time was, as is indicated by the fact mentioned by Mr Thomas Johnston, in his General Review of the Agriculture of the County of Tweeddale, "that as many as 9000 were sometimes sold in one day," in the beginning of the eighteenth century. This then is the view that it seems best to take. The origin of the breed is uncertain. Though the quotations that have been made from old writers are all interesting, their authority is not convincing. As to the character of the breed, when it first came prominently into notice, there is, on the other hand, no dubiety. Descriptions of their appearance are numerous and minute, and on the testimony of different chroniclers there is fortunately no puzzling diversity. The sheep are universally described as having black faces and legs—hence, of course, their name. In regard to weight, it is more difficult to get at the truth, in consequence of the eccentricities of the old Scotch scales, in connection with which nearly every county has a law unto itself. But still some reliable information is obtained from Nasmyth, who, as has been said, himself made a tour of personal inspection in the Lammermuir district in the year 1796. In this man's writings it is stated that "sometimes a fallow or eild ewe from the hill, killed, weighs from 9 to 10 lbs. avoirdupois per quarter." With reference to the fleeces, Nasmyth also gives us some light, in availing one's self of which it must, however, be borne in mind that the practice of smearing was everywhere followed. The statement he makes is that "eight hogg fleeces, nine ewe fleeces, or six wedder fleeces, make a stone of 24 lbs. avoirdupois." Nor does the clip appear to have been any heavier in other districts. In an article on the "Sheep System on the Moors of Lesmahagow Douglas, Moorkirk, &c," he states, "from 6 to 7 fleeces make a stone; the wool is not washed before shearing;" and then he adds, "salving is general, and in. the central parte of the county the tar is very grossly laid on, with very little mixture of butter." "The length of the staple," he says, referring to the Lammermuir district, in a way that implies that he was writing just before shearing time, "is from 4 to 5 inches long." One fact which it is not unimportant to note, is that there was much more black hair in the wool then than there is now. "The lambs," Nasmyth says,—and in this he is corroborated by several other writers,—"are mostly white, but some have black spots on different parts of the body, and one perhaps in thirty-six is black all over." As to their general appearance, when we come down as far as the beginning of the present century, we find it related in the Farmer's Magazine that the points of a good ram are " long and well-turned horns, a long black face, forehead rough and slightly tinged with brown, jaws straight and long, nose long, and nostrils wide."

A highly interesting chapter in the history of the blackfaced is that connected with their introduction to the Highlands. There they were by no means universally welcomed. A small white breed, celebrated for the fineness of their wool, were found in possession ; and the admirers of these animals mourned loudly over the inroads of the hardy blackfaced. One of the loudest of these mourners was Dr James Anderson, who, writing in 1790 to the Highland Society, relative to the improvement of wool in the northern counties, says, "the coarse-woolled sheep have been debasing the breed (meaning the old breed), under the name of improving it, so that I am inclined to believe that in the mainland of Scotland the true unmixed breed is irrecoverably lost." In another passage, Dr Anderson gave it as his opinion, that if the original breed still existed anywhere entirely unmixed, it was in the Shetland isles. In connection with this reference to Shetland, it may not be out of place to mention a curious fact related by Sir John Sinclair, in his work on the northern counties of Scotland, published in 1795. "It is now pretty clearly ascertained," Sir John says, "that the celebrated Shetland breed of sheep came originally from Denmark and Norway, along with the first adventurers who settled in these islands some centuries ago. A young sheep from Randers, in Jutland, was presented to Sir John Sinclair by Mr Gladstone, merchant at Leith, and was found to be exactly similar to the sheep of Shetland." This passage has suggested to some that possibly the old whitefaced Scottish sheep was a similar animal to that which was formerly common in all the northern countries of Europe. This opinion receives no countenance in an account given by Marshall of the central Highlands. "Formerly," he writes,"and I believe from time immemorial, the Highlands and the entire north of Scotland were stocked with a race of sheep almost as different from those of the southern provinces as goats and deer are from the ancient breed, whose fur consisted of a sort of down, overtopped by long straight rigid hair, somewhat like the coat of the beaver and other furred animals; widely different from the wool of European sheep in general. And besides this distinction of coat, there is another characteristic difference which marks them still more strongly. The tail, which in all varieties of woolled sheep is long and all covered with. wool, resembling that of the rest of the body, is, in the animal under notice, short, slender, tapering, and thinly covered with strong silvery hairs, and not exceeding in size that of the deer or the goat. Its face, too, is covered with sleek hairs, as that of the deer; and, like this, it has the eyes prominent."

A more flattering description of the breed is found in the survey of Aberdeenshire produced by Dr Keith. On the fineness of the wool this writer has a good deal to say. "Their wool," he states, " though deficient in point of length and quantity, was of most excellent quality, and not inferior to any Spanish wool. Stockings made from it were worn by persons of the first rank in Britain, and exported to the Continent at very high prices. One lady belonging to this county knitted them of so fine texture that they were sold at three guineas a pair, and several of them were commissioned for by the Empress of Russia. They were so fine that a pair of them could have been drawn through a ring that was taken off the finger of the fair manufacturer."

Of this much-lamented breed there is now absolutely no trace among the large Highland flocks. They not only disappeared before the blackfaced, but they disappeared without having engrafted any of their characteristics upon the new comers. They have, in fact, simply died out under the pressure of a stronger and a more aggressive breed. The first appearance of the blackfaced in the Highlands dates back about one hundred and twenty years. They are traced in the first instance to Perthshire and Dumbartonshire, from which counties they crept gradually northwards till in the extreme northern counties their colonisation was checked by the Cheviots, on whose side the influence of Sir John Sinclair was strongly cast. In reference to Perthshire, Robertson, the minister of Callander, who writes an account of the county at the beginning of the century, states that about forty years before he wrote, "the blackfaced or mountain breed were introduced from the south." In a Report on Dumbartonshire, published about the same time as Perthshire, compiled by the Rev. Andrew Whyte and the Rev. Dr Macfarlane, it is mentioned that the blackfaced sheep were brought originally from the counties of Dumfries and Lanark, and were introduced there about 1750. Argyllshire, too, claimed about the same time. In the Farmer's Magazine there is mention made of Mr John Campbell of Lagwine, "who was certainly the first who banished cattle from the West Highland hills, and supplied their place with blackfaced muir sheep from his native place."

Mr Campbell, we are told, was at one time a proprietor of Garieve, Ayrshire, but misfortune came upon him about the year 1755 or 1756, and he then "set off for the West Highlands, and leased the extensive farm of Glenvoe, part of the Ardkinless estate." From Perthshire the sheep were taken to the north by Sir John Lockhart Ross of Balnagowan. About their fitness for the hills there was from the outset no doubt. The climate was trying, but their hardiness was equal to it. Thus, in Mackenzie's Review of Ross and Cromarty, the writer narrates how in travelling through the Highland districts of Perthshire he observed " the blackfaced or Linton breed of sheep were kept exposed to the severest winters by the farmers in that county, and were far more profitable stock than black cattle."

Within recent years blackfaced sheep have improved very much in character. In the first place, they have had a sharp tussle with the Cheviots, and this no doubt has had the effect of putting breeders on their mettle. The encroachments of the whitefaced sheep on the ground of the blackfaced went on almost uninterruptedly until the disastrous season of 1860, when the difference between the two breeds was very marked—the Cheviots suffering severely, while the others escaped nearly untouched. Then the tide of favour began to flow for the blackfaced. Farmers in high-lying districts changed back to their old stock, while on ground which Cheviots had always had to themselves the hardier type took their place. This transition is still going on, stimulated greatly by the trying seasons that have been so common of late, and also no doubt by the consideration that the difference in the value of the wool of the two breeds is not nearly so great as it formerly was. The sheep, as has been said, have improved in appearance just as they have grown in popularity. Excepting the stocks of one or two breeders, they were, within so recent a date as twenty years ago, sheep with narrow frames and very little symmetry, now they are generally well-proportioned and wide-ribbed. In nothing have they altered more than in the styles in which they are set upon their legs. In carcass and wool they have increased materially. A common clip in former times seems to have been, as has been pointed out, about 3 lbs. overhead in a general ewe and hogg stock. At present a common clip is 4½ lbs., while in some cases the average is as high as 5 or 6 lbs. The staple of the wool has increased in even greater proportion. Formerly the length was usually from 4 to 5 inches; now it runs from 9 to 10 inches, and it has been known occasionally to be as much as 15 inches. The weight of the carcass has increased to such an extent that eild ewes on good farms commonly average from 15 to 16 lbs. a quarter, while in the best stocks they are sometimes equal to 20 lbs. From this it will be seen that both wool and carcass now give a better return by at least 40 per cent. than formerly.

In tracing the history of the breed from the time when they became common over the country, the first mention found of a breeder who appears to have attained eminence is that of David Dun of Kirkton, whom the statistical writer for the parish of Campsie says "has been with some propriety styled the Scotch Bakewell." Dun farmed what is described as pasture ground, on the muirlands of the estate of Kirkton lands, which it may be mentioned is now part of the farm of Knowehead, in the occupancy of Messrs Foyer. In the Statistical Account of 1795, he is described as haying the best stock of blackfaced ewes that are to be met with in Scotland. "They are," it is stated, "completely muir ewes " (which simply means blackfaced), and yet they weigh 12 lbs. per quarter, 22½ ounces to the lb., or nearly 17 lbs. imperial per quarter. They are sold at a guinea a head when fed. This breeder is also mentioned, in an account given of the parish of Fintry, as a man "whose exertions in improving the mode of grazing are truly laudable, and to whose example its present advanced state, through a considerable part of the west of Scotland, is in a great measure owing." Some indication is given of the extent of the trade carried on by Dun. From this account it does not seem to have been a trade that would have counted as anything worth notice at the present time. "He annually sells," it is stated, " about 60 tup lambs of a year old, for which he never receives less than a guinea each, and his lambs for killing at annual sales in May at half a guinea each." Dun, it may be added, was killed in 1794 by an accident which happened to him while he was among his flock attending to their shearing. He was leading a sheep across a bridge; the rail of the bridge gave way, and falling, he was killed upon the spot. While Dun's reputation was at its best, the sheep in the parish of Douglas, in Lanarkshire, obtained some distinction, without however having so good a claim to it. This is learned from the Statistical Account, which says, "the sheep in Douglas parish are superior to those of the neighbouring parishes," Their weight is given at from 7 to 10 lbs. per quarter Dutch, very much less than Dun's. Coming clown to the present century, the principal breeders in the early part of it are found to be Mr Welsh, Earlshaugh; Mr Weir, Priesthill; Mr Gillespie, Douglas Mill; Mr Robertson, Broomlea; Mr M'Kersie, Glenbuck; and Mr Foyer, Knowehead, the grandfather of the present tenants. All these men lived about the same time half a century ago. About twenty to thirty years ago the most important breeders were the late Mr Foyer, Knowehead; Mr Watson, Nisbet; Mr Watson, Mitchellhill; Mr Craig, Craigdarroch; Mr Dryfe, Barr; Mr Murray, Eastside; Mr Miligan, Kirkhope; Mr Sandilands, Cummerhead; and Mr M'Kersie, Glenbuck. In more recent years, the stocks which have taken the lead have been those of Mr Archibald, Overshiels; Mr Foyer, Knowehead; Mr Craig, Craigdarroch; Mr Aitken, Listonshiels; Mr Brydon, Burncastle; Mr Craig, Southhalls; Mr Fleming, Ploughlands; Mr Greenshields, West Town; Mr Sloan, Barnhill; Mr Howatson of Glenbuck; Mr Watson, Culterallers; Mr Melrose, Westloch; Mr Moffat, Gateside; Mr Robertson, Achilty; Mr Malcolm of Poltalloch; Mr Coubrough, Blairtumnock; and Mr Buchanan, Letter.

For the sale of blackfaced sheep, the market held at West Linton, in the end of June, continued the most important in Scotland till 1857, when it was transferred to Lanark, where blackfaced ewes and wedder hoggs are still largely represented ; but for tups it has been entirely superseded by the autumn ram sales, the most important of which are Edinburgh, Perth, and Ayr,—the sale at Edinburgh being established as the Lothian Bam Society in 1864. It is at Edinburgh that the highest prices are obtained. Till 1871 the trade remained at a comparatively low level. In this year, however, prices made a decided spring, Mr Greenshields averaging £12 for a lot of 46, and Mr Aitken, Listonshiels, £11, 2s. 6d. for a lot of 50. In 1872 the highest prices were those of the Overshiels sheep, which averaged £9, 14s., while the next were Mr Brydon's, at £9, 2s. 6d. Since that year Mr Archibald has always realised the highest prices, except in 1875. The highest prices yet obtained were those of last year (1882), when the Overshiels lot averaged £16, 12s. 11d. The largest figure ever given for a single tup was £71, which was paid by Mr Howatson in 1881 for one of Mr Archibald's lot.

In an essay of this kind it is not necessary to go into minute details of management, but merely to give a short outline of the general principles.

Throughout the south of Scotland, the method of management varies very little. There, as a rule, it is a ewe stock that alone is kept. Between the northern and southern counties there is, however, a considerable difference. In the first place the Highland farms are mostly under a mixed ewe and wether stock; then again the practice of wintering makes an important distinction between the two parts of the country. In the south nearly all the sheep are wintered on the farm. To this rule the principal exception is the case of the south-western counties, where the practice is to send away the hoggs to winter on the dairy farms in the low-lying districts. The Highland farmer, on the other hand, is compelled to winter away all his hoggs, and sometimes part of the one-year-old sheep as well. The routine of the year's management may briefly be described, —taking first the south. A fit time to begin the season's work is with the sale of the cast ewes in October, which are generally drafted when six years old. Formerly it was the almost universal practice to sell these sheep by the clad score ; but this custom has of late been disappearing, owing to the popularity of auction marts. The price generally realised by this class of stock has been in past years about 26s., but during this and last autumn they have reached the extraordinary price of from 35s. to 40s. The purpose to which they are generally put is one for which they are admirably adapted. This is the production of what are known as greyfaced lambs. The ewes, after being bought by the lowland farmer, are crossed for one year with a Leicester or some other long-woolled tup. Where the land is not suitable for bringing the lambs into the fat market, they are kept on, and brought out as hoggs in the following year. One characteristic of these ewes and their progeny, which tended greatly to popularise them, is their hardiness. This enables them to winter on rough ground without turnips or artificial feeding. In these days, when cultivation has been paying so badly, the inducement to farmers to give increased attention to this mode of adding to the resources of the farm has been very considerable, and it is therefore not surprising that the blackfaced trade has been materially benefited. The localities to which the ewes usually go are the northern counties of England, and the districts of Scotland where the pastures are not "stormed with snow," and where sheep can pick their way through the winter.

When the cast ewes have been put away, attention is generally turned to the dipping, though, as with Cheviots, it may be questioned whether it is not better to delay this operation till January or February. The dip that can be most recommended is a mixture that may easily be prepared by any farmer. The ingredients are—1 gallon of soluble carbolic acid added to about 90 gallons of water, 2 lbs. arsenic, mixed with the foregoing after having been dissolved in a slow boil in two or three gallons of water, and 4 lbs. of pearl ash or washing soda. With this mixture sheep can be dipped at a cost of 2s. 6d. per 100. To those who object to the use of arsenic, if a half gallon of carbolic is substituted, it will be found quite effectual. The practice of smearing has almost died out. After dipping, where this is done at the old time, immediately comes the marking of the stock and the checking of the numbers. Then, this over, the tups are put to the ewes on the 22nd November. The number of ewes given to one tup is usually three score. It is advisable, it may be said, to draw out some of the best ewes to a select tup. This practice has hitherto been far too seldom adopted among blackfaced sheep, and breeders would do well to give more attention to it. The taps are brought away from the ewes about the 1st of January. Wintering in the south is, as has been pointed out, a very simple matter. Occasionally, in trying seasons, there is no course except to give the sheep a little hay; but this the blackfaced require rarely, in comparison with the Cheviots, which are much less self-reliant and active. During lambing, which is the next business on hand, the ewes, which begin to drop about the 17th April,—a few days prior to which they should have all been udder-locked,—need much less assistance than any other breeds from the shepherd. A great ease in lambing is no doubt partly due to the care which has been given to shape of the horn, for since farmers began to show preference for sheep with horns that lie slightly back instead of the forward horned kind, the ewes appear even more easily managed than formerly. Another thing that takes a weight off the shepherd's mind is that the mothers are generally better milkers than the Cheviots, while the lambs are so much more hardy, that even with no better nursing they would manage to live, while Cheviots would succumb. Twins are not regarded as an advantage, except where there are parks for them, or where they are of service in "beating up" deaths. Of tup eild sheep there are fewer than among Cheviots. The castration of the lambs—after those to be kept as tups have been selected—takes place at the end of June, unless where the stock are intended for the fat market, in which case it is done a fortnight or three weeks earlier. It was the custom at one time to wash blackfaced sheep, but within the last twenty years the practice has been discontinued. Clipping begins about the 10th July. Blackfaced, like all other classes of wool, has suffered from the recent depression, but not to the same extent as Cheviot and some of the finer kinds,—the reason being perhaps partly the original lowness of price, and partly the improvement that has taken place in the quality and length of staple, long deep wool commanding the highest price. A fairly remunerative price may be said to be 18s. per stone of 24 lbs. The prevalent price of late has been from 12s. to 14s. The lambs are weaned at two different times—the wedders at the beginning of August, and the ewes a fortnight later. For both kinds the principal market is at Lanark, the one fair being held a fortnight later than the other. For wether lambs a satisfactory price is from 15s. to 18s. Before being marketed the ewe lambs are drawn, the best are retained for the maintenance of the stock; and the seconds, which are not required for this purpose, are sold. Of late years the demand for these lambs has been very brisk, in consequence of their popularity for crossing purposes, and also of the desire to substitute them for Cheviots. They have therefore commanded good prices, and from 22s. to 24s. has been a figure very commonly paid for them. This brings the round of the year to a close.

In the south, it may be added, rents average about 7s. or 8s. per head, where the hoggs are reckoned as part of the holding. This rent may be said to be largely the growth of recent years. In proof of this, it may be mentioned that in a General View of Berwickshire, written in 1794 by Alexander Lowe, it is stated that thirty or forty years before that date a common rent was 1s. 6d. per head, and that this figure had risen first to 2s. 6d. and then to 4s. 6d. In the north the management differs from that just described, inasmuch as is the necessary result of the stock being partly ewes and partly wethers. The sales from a Highland farm embrace the wethers, which are usually disposed of when three years old, and the draft ewes, which are sold at the same age as in the south. The principal markets for these are Inverness in July, and Perth sales and Falkirk tryst in October. In addition to these sales, there is of course the wool. Smearing is still followed by a number of farmers in these districts, The believers in this practice are, however, yearly becoming fewer. The most serious consideration which north country men have to face is the cost of wintering. Within the last twenty years the expenditure entailed by this has doubled, and now as much as 7s. and 8s. per head has to be paid. The rent itself usually runs from about 2s. to 3s. on the summer stock. In connection with the Highlands, it is important that it should be pointed out that the extension of the fences would be one of the greatest advantages that could be conferred on the pastoral interests. Were farms fenced, sheep would be prevented from straying and being lost, scab might at last even be got rid of, and in the neighbourhood of deer forests there would be no more trouble and annoyance arising from complaints of trespassing.

The principal diseases from which the blackfaced breed suffer are braxy, rot, louping-ill, pining, sturdy, and foot-rot. None of these diseases are of recent growth ; they are all common, and have been long common to all kinds of hill sheep. This is apparent enough from the mention that is frequently made of them by old writers. In several now forgotten works a number of curious opinions are formed with reference especially to braxy, which seems to have exercised the fears of the flockmasters of last century. To the present day this disease continues to inflict the most severe losses. In the south a death-rate equal to 3 in the score among hoggs, due to this cause alone, is not uncommon. In this breed, as in others, the fancy of the day varies considerably. It may, however, be said that the most successful breeders have a pretty definite ideal before them. The points which should be looked for in a perfect animal, as this is at present understood, are a thick, broad face; nostrils full; horns low set at the crown (that is to say, coming low out, and not rising too much), and turned backwards rather than forwards, and with a division or clear space on the crown between the horns; the colour of the face should be black and white, with the black predominating moderately clear and bright; the chest broad and deep ; the shoulders lying well back; the ribs widely arched and deep; the back short, wide, and level; the quarters full and lengthy; the thigh strong and large; the body well set on clean flat legs, with well-developed joints; the wool uniform in quality, coming well down to the knees, with a strong deep fleece, and a fine sharp curl upon it, and free from kemp hairs, and blue or black. A slight tuft of wool on the forehead in young sheep is generally an indication of good wool. Judged by this standard, the sheep of the present time are deficient principally in their wool, which too frequently does not stand age; it being a serious defect to cultivate a class of wool that only shows a curl upon it in one-year-olds, and afterwards becomes short and bare. Some objection might also be taken to many sheep as being too narrow in the chest. The advice might, therefore, be given to breeders to aim at having the ribs of their stock wider than they have generally been in the past. Some attention to the manner in which the sheep are set upon their legs would also be well bestowed, as their legs have very commonly been too close together. The colour of the face should be closely kept in view. In many cases, the quality of the wool, as well as the substance of the sheep, has been a good deal interfered with by a tendency to run too much on clear-faced sheep. For avoiding very bright colour, it is not, however, altogether desirable to go to the opposite extreme. It is no doubt true that dun faces very often go along with good fleeces, but these should not be strongly recommended, as it is best to keep the colour of the face in moderation. It has already been pointed out that it is important to have the horns lying a little back. To the change that has taken place in this respect may to some extent be ascribed the improvement of late noticed in the frames of the sheep with the "wheely" horns, so fashionable at one time; there almost invariably was found a hollowness between the eyes, which in turn indicated a certain slenderness of bone and delicacy of constitution. In regard to the development of the breed, it is only necessary to add that just in proportion as the practice of shedding ewes to select tups spreads, so will the maintenance of a good type be made the more certain. Any change in the breed which would in the smallest affect its hardiness is to be strongly guarded against; but there is little fears of this, or its powers of endurance being affected, so long as width of chest is made the chief point in the shape of the animal. There can be no doubt of the future of the blackfaced sheep. It has carried a high character ; its friends include many of the nobility of the country, whose purchases at the leading sale rings give an impetus to breeding; it has, in fact, become of paramount importance in relation to the pastoral resources of the country.


In the two preceding papers on blackfaced sheep, no allusion has been made to the importance of grazing cattle on the ground. I myself, from an experience of over thirty-three years, am quite confident that not only are sheep very much more healthy, but a greater number can be kept on a farm when cattle are grazed on the rough coarse grass. My system is to put a considerable stock of cattle on to the ground in the end of May or beginning of June, and I have them herded by a boy, who is directed by the manager from time to time where to keep them, and I take them off the end of August. When I first took my present farm, no cattle had been on it for some years, the sheep were very unhealthy, and the death-rate, chiefly from trembling or louping-ill, enormous. Now the deaths are very few, and trembling has all but ceased. I have letters from sheep farmers of great experience on the subject. A well-known farmer in Ross-shire writes— "I have had plenty of experience of this both with myself and others. I believe that the heavy tramping of cattle, where they don't cut the ground too much, helps to firm the ground and sweeten the grass. You can scarcely go wrong in putting a good many cattle along with sheep from March till the middle of August." He adds—"I can also corroborate your remarks as regards trembling."

A very skilful manager of both sheep and cattle in Perthshire, who is very successful in the prize rings, writes—"The grazing of cattle along with sheep is what I have advocated for a number of years. In a large tract of woodland here the sheep have always wintered better, and quite as many of them, since I summered cattle in it, and the rough grass on the hill has been much greater benefit to the sheep since I began to graze cattle on it." He adds—"I am often surprised the farmers on the upper farm here do not graze more cattle, and as a result, their sheep are deteriorating very much."

In those days of cheap wool and agricultural depression, surely the sheep farmers should not throw away a chance of adding to their farm receipts, and at the same time improving the health and quality of their sheep.

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