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In the northern districts of Scotland, and in many of the islands, there is a breed of Sheep which differs from the others in the smallness of their size, many of them when fed weighing no more than six, seven, or eight pounds per quarter. They have dun faces, without horns; and their wool, which is very fine, is variously mixed, and streaked with black, brown, and red. To these various and numerous tribes of this useful animal, we must add, that, by the persevering industry and attention of Mr Bakewell, of Dishley, in Leicester shire, our breed of Sheep has been greatly improved; and he has been followed by many eminent breeders, with nearly equal success.
Thus, by selecting the handsomest and best proportioned of their kinds, the ju dicious breeder has gradually arrived at a degree of per fection in improving this animal, unknown at any former period. The superior qualities of the Leicestershire breed are, that they will feed quickly fat at almost any age, even on indifferent pastures, and carry the greatest quantity of mutton upon the smallest bone. This valuable breed has also found its way into North umberland.
Donkin and Co. Culley, of Fenton, and Mr Thompson, of Lilburn, have also, by a mixture of this with other kinds, improved their breeds of Sheep to the astonishment of the neigh bouring farmers and graziers, who are now fully con vinced of its great superiority. We are favoured by Mr Culley with the following ac count of a Wedder of his breed, fed at Fenton, in North umberland, and killed at Alnwick in October, , when four years old:—His dimensions were as follow,—girt, four feet eight inches and an half; breadth over his shoul ders, one foot three inches; over his middle, one foot se ven inches and a quarter; across the breast, from the in side of one fore-leg to the inside of the other, nine inches.
The proprietor of this Sheep laments, that he had not the of fals exactly weighed by offals, we would be understood to mean not only the tallow, but the head, pluck, and pelt, with the blood and entrails ; because it is now well known, that this breed of Sheep has a greater quantity of mutton, in proportion to their offals, than any other kind we know of, and is consequently cheaper to the consumer.
The Ram, from which the drawing was made, came from abroad, with two Ewes, as a pre sent to a gentleman in the county of Northumberland: They are very small, and have no horns.
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The Sheep, of which the annexed cut is an accurate representation, seem to differ from every other which we remember to have seen described. A pair of them was brought to this country, by way of Russia, from the bor ders of Tartary. They are rather larger than the English Sheep. The colour of the male is roan, or light-brown mixed with white; that of the female, black and white: Their ears are pendulous; and instead of a tail, they have a large protuberance of fat behind, which covers the rump.
When the drawing was made, they had just been shorn; at other times the wool is so long and thick, that their form cannot be well distinguished. The African or Guinea Sheep is found in most of the tropical climates. They are large, strong, and swift; with coarse hairy fleeces, short horns, pendulous ears, have a kind of dew-lap under the chin, and, though do mesticated, seem to approach nearest to a state of nature.
The Iceland Sheep, as well as those of Muscovy and the coldest climates of the Norths resemble our own in the form of the body, but differ in the number of their horns, having generally four, and sometimes eight, grow ing from the forehead: Their wool is long, smooth, and hairy: They are of a dark-brown colour; and under the outward coat of hair, which drops off at stated periods, there is an internal covering resembling fur, which is fine, short, and soft;—the quantity produced by each Sheep, is about four pounds.
The broad-tailed Sheep, common in Persia, Barbary, Syria, and Egypt, are remarkable chiefly for their large and heavy tails, which grow a foot broad, and so long, that the shepherds are obliged to put boards with small wheels under them, to keep them from galling.
The Sheep, bred on the mountains of Thibet, pro duce wool of extraordinary length and fineness, of which is made the Indian shawl, frequently sold in this country for fifty pounds or upwards. In Walachia, they have Sheep with curious spiral horns, standing upright, in the form of a screw; long shaggy fleeces; and in size and form, nearly resembling ours. They are also found in the island of Crete, and in many of the islands of the Archipelago. This is said to be the Strepsicheros of the ancients.
WHICH, by some authors, has been classed with the Sheep, and by others has been referred to the Goat kind, may not improperly be considered as standing in a middle place, and forming the link between each: For it is curious to observe, that Nature, in all her variations, proceeds by slow and almost insensible degrees, scarcely drawing a firm and distinguishing line between any two races of animals that are essentially different, and yet, in many respects, nearly allied to each other.
In all transitions from one kind to the other, there is to be found a middle race, that seems to partake of the nature of both, and that can precisely be referred to neither. Thus it is hard to discover where the Sheep kind ends, or the Goat begins. The Musmon therefore, which is nei ther Sheep nor Goat, has many marks of both, and forms the link between the two kinds. They often maintain furious battles with each other, in which their horns are frequently broken off. The general colour of the hair is reddish-brown; the in side of the thighs and belly is white tinctured with yel low; the muzzle and inside of the ears are of a whitish colour tinctured with yellow; the other parts of the sace are of a brownish-grey.
The Musmon is found in the wild and uncultivated parts of Greece, Sardinia, Corsica, and in the desarts of Tartary; where it maintains itself, by force or swiftness, against the attacks of all rapacious animals. It has been known to breed with the Sheep; and, from that circumstance, is supposed, by M. Buffon and others, to be the primitive race. The female of this species is rather less than the male; and her horns never grow to that prodigious size. Those of Kamtschatka are so strong, that ten men can scarcely hold one; and the horns are so large, that young foxes often shelter themselves in the hollow of such as fall off by accident.
They grow to the size of a young Stag, propagate in autumn, and bring forth one young at a time, though sometimes two. THIS lively, playful, and capricious creature occu pies the next step in the great scale of Nature; and, though inferior to the Sheep in value, in various instances bears a strong affinity to that useful animal. The Goat is an animal easily sustained, and is chiefly therefore the property of those who inhabit wild and un cultivated regions, where it finds an ample supply of food from the spontaneous productions of Nature, in si tuations inaccessible to other creatures.
It delights ra ther on the heathy mountains, or the shrubby rock, than the fields cultivated by human industry. Its favourite food is the tops of the boughs, or the tender bark of young trees. It bears a warm climate better than the Sheep, and frequently sleeps exposed to the hottest rays of the sun.
The milk of the Goat is sweet, nourishing, and medi cinal, being found highly beneficial in consumptive cases: It is not so apt to curdle upon the stomach as that of the Cow. From the shrubs and heath on which it feeds, the milk of the Goat acquires a flavour and wildness of taste very different from that of either the Sheep or Cow, and is highly pleasing to such as have accustomed themselves to its use: It is made into whey for those whose digestion is too weak to bear it in its primitive state.
Several places in the North of England and the mountainous parts of Scotland are much resorted to for the purpose of drinking the milk of the Goat, and its effects have been generally salutary in vitiated and debilitated habits. The flesh of the kid, which they do not allow themselves to taste, is considered by the city epicure as a great rarity; and, when properly prepared, is esteemed by some as little inferior to venison.
The Goat produces generally two young at a time, sometimes three, rarely four: In warmer climates, it is more prolific, and produces four or five at once; though the breed is found to degenerate. The male is capable of propagating at one year old, and the female at seven months; but the fruits of a generation so premature, are generally weak and defective: Their best time is at the age of two years, or eighteen months at least. The Goat is a short-lived animal, full of ardour, but soon enervated.
His appetite for the female is excessive, so that one buck is sufficient for one hundred and fifty females. Some of these horns have been found at least two yards long. The head of the Ibex is small, adorned with a large dusky beard, and has a thick coat of hair of a tawny colour mixed with ash; a streak of black runs along the top of its back; the belly and thighs are of a delicate fawn colour.
The Ibex inhabits the highest Alps of the Grisons' country, and the Vallais; and is also found in Crete. The chase of them is attended with great danger: Being very strong, they often turn upon the incautious huntsman, and tumble him down the precipice, unless he have time to lie down, and let the animal pass over him. They bring forth one young at a time, seldom two; and are said not to be long-lived.
The Chamois, though a wild animal, is very easily tamed, and docile; and to be found only in rocky and mountainous places. It is about the size of a domestic Goat, and resembles one in many respects.
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It is most agreeably lively, and active beyond expression. This ani mal is found in great plenty in the mountains of Dau phiny, of Piedmont, Savoy, Switzerland, and Germany. They are peaceful, gentle creatures, and live in society with each other. They are found in flocks of from four to fourscore, and even an hundred, dispersed upon the crags of the mountains. The large males are seen feed ing detached from the rest, except in rutting time, when they approach the females, and drive away the young.
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The time of their coupling is from the beginning of No vember to the end of October; and they bring forth in April and March. The young keep with the dam for about five months, and sometimes longer, if the hunters and the wolves do not separate them. It is asserted, that they live between twenty and thirty years.