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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

Mortality among Sheep

Mortality among Sheep.

The Revising Committee's report was as [unclear: for]lows:—"The great mortality in young [unclear: sheep] especially in the North Island, [unclear: aggravated] possibly by excessive rains of the last [unclear: two] page 21 seasons, is a subject requiring the latest information as to the best treatment of young sheep."

Mr Gray, delegate for North Canterbury, moved, "That it is desirable that the Conference discuss the question of mortality amongst sheep, including diseases necessitating drenching and curative treatment."

He then read an interesting paper on some diseases in sheep, and some preventatives.

The Chairman said that the paper was an instructive one.

Mr Overton said he had lost a good many ewes, and his remedy was now to provide the ewes with green food about three weeks before lambing. As to the blood-poisoning, his experience was not similar to Mr Gray's, for he had found that by tailing the lambs before they were a week old no deaths occurred, and he had long since come to the conclusion that the deaths which did occur were caused in many cases by the lambs being too large and fat. He took care that the lambs were not more than a week. He was fully in accord with Mr Gray as to the treatment which should be given to sheep. He had much pleasure in seconding the motion.

Mr Matthews agreed with the matter in the paper, and with what Mr Overton had said. Many sheep were lost by being left on poor pastures, and careful feeding was a preventive against lungworm. When he started sheep-farming, he, like a great many other beginners, lost many sheep on account of not knowing how to treat them. After a time, however, he introduced cattle more largely. By not keeping so many sheep he had reduced the death-rate to a minimum. He got a flock of sheep that were in low condition into his possession some years ago, and by judicious treatment he succeeded in bringing them through without any loss. With regard to the condition of ewes, he found that by keeping his sheep in good condition he had better lambs. A good deal of the mortality among lambs was brought about by keeping ewes on stale pastures.

Mr Cartwright Brown said the Hawke's Bay Association had procured about 200 sheep to be operated on by the proprietors of drenches. They divided them into lots of 20, and had each lot dosed with a drench belonging to each proprietor. Up to the present only a few of the affected sheep that were treated died, but one lot which was not drenched had already lost nearly half its number.

Mr Kirkbride said the Auckland Association consulted Professor Thomas on the question of lungworm, and that gentleman expressed his doubts as to the value of drenching. He was in favour of change of pasture, which was the only remedy proposed. Professor Thomas would not say that those remedies were of no use, but he considered them of very little use.

Mr Buchanan hoped the Government would employ the best scientific expert that the world could supply. He pointed out the good results that has ensued from the labours of M. Pasteur in treating the diseases of silkworms. The Government of the United States had spent thousands of pounds in establishing scientific schools for the purpose of teaching subjects necessary to be known by the farmer. He would much prefer to see sheep affected with scab than with footrot. The best way to prevent the disease is to get at the history of the organism. At his in-stance the Government procured several copies of the book published by the scientific department of the United States, and from that he learned they were unable to follow the various stages of the lungworm. If we could get at this matter, the whole subject would be clear He thanked Mr Gray for giving his paper to the Conference. He proposed, "That in the opinion of this Conference the Government should take steps to secure the services of a scientific expert, in order to assist settlers in the prevention and cure of disease in stock."

The motion was carried.

Mr Grigg thought that it was doubtful if the losses in pregnant ewes could be classed as a disease. He had always attributed such deaths to debility, and the fact that most deaths were in ewes bearing two lambs tended to show that debility was the cause. With reference to lungworm, that, although untraceable beyond a certain point, might probably be found to be caused by some parasite concealed in the grass. As to blood poisoning from tailing lambs in dirty yards, he had no doubt of such an effect, and he knew an instance of the loss of more than 100 lambs at one time from that cause. His practice in tailing lambs was to put up a hurdle yard at a gateway between two paddocks; by this means, also, lambs were easily mothered. Mr Gray had pointed out the best preventive for lungworm, and that was to keep the lambs in good condition. With regard to footrot he considered Mr Gray had pointed out the proper course to pursue.

Mr Barnett gave his experience with reference to dirty yards. Some pigs were castrated and allowed to run around a yard where milk was thrown out, with the result that he lost nearly all of them.

Mr Murdoch said he had some experience of lungworm among his sheep about two years ago, and had tried many remedies, but they were all ineffectual. Last year it made its appearance again, but at the same time he received a leaflet from the Agricultural Department advising to put sheep infested with the disease on bare pastures. This he did, with excellent results. He thought it was his duty to bring this matter before the Conference

Mr Henderson related how dirty sheep-shears had caused blood poisoning.

Mr Bedford said that the branches of pinus insignis scattered about the paddocks for sheep to nibble at were productive of good results.

Mr Barriball said that drenching with extract of bluegum had been found very useful in his district.

Mr Gray was very glad that his paper had provoked such an interesting discussion. He did not think that suggestions that were applicable to one part of the Colony would suit another. He replied at some length to the objections which had been raised to some of his remarks.

page 22

kind and properly applied. There is often a considerable difference between the agricultural and the commercial value of a manure. The former can only be ascertained by observing the increased yield of crop due to the manure. This increase, multiplied by the market price of the product, and divided by the quantity of manure applied will give the agricultural value. An example will make this clear. Supposing an acre of wheat is manured at the rate of 2 cwt per acre, the price of the manure being 5s. per cwt, and taking the increased yield as 8 bushels per acre, which at 2s. 6d. per bushel will be £1, then the agricultural value of the manure will be 8 × 2s. 6d.÷2=10s. per cwt., showing a profit of 50 per cent, on the commercial value of the manure. The farmer himself only can ascertain the agricultural value of a manure, and often a simple field experiment, showing the difference between the produce of a manured and an unmanured plot, will teach a lesson that can be learned in no other way.