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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 47

Kind of Sheep

Kind of Sheep.

The sheep, of course, must be adapted to the country. This is a fundamental principle in sheep-farming. A man may change his "run," but he cannot easily change his flock.

It is the opinion of several experienced sheep-farmers in Scotland, with whom I have consulted, that a suitable breed for the whole of British Columbia might be found in a cross between a Cheviot ewe and a Leicester ram.

The large and heavy Cheviot proper would stand the wetness of the West Cascade region, as well as the winter cold of the East Cascade region; but this sheep might not like the hot summers of the latter. Again, the Cheviot is inclined to roam, and yields comparatively little wool. Crossing a Cheviot ewe with a Leicester ram, however, would produce a sheep which probably would stand both the heat and cold of the East Cascade region; this crossing would at the same time tame the Cheviot, make the sheep more disposed to take on fat, and would almost double the fleece, while improving the quality of the wool.

While travelling in Colorado last year, where the climate somewhat resembles that of portions of British Columbia, I was told that the favourite plan there for wool-sheep was to cross imported thorough-bred Merino rams with native Mexican ewes. The latter are believed to be the old Spanish Merino breed, run out, but healthy, hardy, and acclimated.

This cross prepared the way for mutton-sheep, crossing readily with Southdown or Cotswold, and giving a large frame and fine mutton.

page 85

There are good breeds of sheep in Oregon (quite close to British Columbia)—Southdowns, Cotswolds, Merinos, and also a cross of the Merino and Leicester.

Oregon and California, which by their surface, and also climatically, do not seem to me quite so well suited for sheep as British Columbia, produced the following clips in 1871, 1870, and 1869:—
California: 1871. 1870. 1869.
Spring clips, lbs 13,134,680 12,847,760 8,959,545
Fall clip, lbs. 9,052,508 6,624,900 4,718,175
22,187,188 19,472,660 13,677,720
Oregon, lbs 921,000 1,403,970 1,039,400
23,108,188 20,876,630 14,717,120
In San Francisco the receipts from foreign countries for 1871 aggregated 1139 bales, weighing 365,649 lbs. The average price obtained for wools in 1870, by the commission-houses in San Francisco, on account of consignors, was:—
California Spring Wools 29 cents per lb. (1s. 2½d. English)
California Fall Wools 25 cents per lb. (1s. 0½d English)
Oregon Wools 40 cents per lb. (1s. 8d. English)
Foreign Wools 45 cents per lb. (1s. 10½d. English)

These prices were not maintained in 1871 and 1872, and the California "growers" and speculators did not make much in those years. The reader will see above the difference between the value of California and Oregon wool. British Columbia would class with, probably surpass, the produce of Oregon. The price at one term in 1872, in San Francisco, for best "Northern" wool came down from a nominal price of 40 cents to about half that price.