Sheep, or Ovis, a genus of quadrupeds consisting, according to LiNNAEus, of three species; though later naturalists admit only one, and consider the others as varieties. The principal is the aries, or common ram and ewe. Their bodies are covered with long, whitish, slender interwoven hair, which is termed wool; and, when shorn, the fleece : - they have eight fore-teeth in the lower jaw ; and the heads of the males or rams, are furnished with concave horns, remarkably wrinkled and curved
In a wild state, the sheep is lively, robust, and able to support fatigue; dog, for protect age of- expe them to till they of con- period. The. first object therefore is, whether the breeder has sufficient grass to maintain the ewes and their lambs in the spring; or, whether he has a stock of turnips adequate to their support, till the pasture affords them food. The next consideration is the choice of ewes, in which case the same characteristic marks should be observed, as have already been stated under the article Ram: - another circumstance of great importance, i, that of attending to the breed;. because no certain degree of excellency can be attained in any of cattle, unless the female possess an equal degree of sometimes three lambs, after a ges-tation of twenty weeks low, over a moderate fire, in a proportion sufficient to produce a deep black colour, and a proper consistence. To render this compound more durable, he observes, that one-fourth, sixth, or eighth part of tar maybe molted together with the tallow ; the whole of which, however, will be readily discharged from the wool, by washing it in soap-water. - We understand, that Sir JOSEPH Banks has, likewise, contrived a compound metal, from which the wool receives no damage.
With respect to the feeding and fattening of sheep, the most useful grasses and other vegetables have already been stated in the articles Cattle (vol.i.p.459-60), GRass, MeaDOw, etc.: hence our attention will now be directed to the nourishment derived from turnips, which experience has evinced to be one of the most lucrative methods. Some farmers turn the sheep into a field promiscuously, suffering them to eat the roots at pleasure ; but this practice is by no means economical. Others divide the land by hurdles, and inclose the animals in such a space as they arc able to clear in one day ; advancing progressively till all the turnips are consumed. Another mode consists in digging or pulling up a sufficient quantity of turnips, and then admitting the sheep into the inclosure. The must advantageous expedient, therefore, is that of exposing these roots on the surface of the soil, and removing the sheep to a fresh place every day ; and if a small quantity of pease (not exceeding two or three bushels per diem for 150 wethers) be allowed, the animals will eat both the turnip.-, and their leaves, from which they will obtain additional nutriment, and grow uncommonly fat. Farther, this management will be attended with beneficial effects on the soil ; so that a piece of land, contiguous to the turnip-field, may be manured without the expence of conveying dung by: carriage. And, as the ground on which turnips are generally cultivated, is too moist for sheep in autumn or winter, it would not only be poached by the opposite old method, but the roots would also be trodden in ; and, from their great moisture, the animals become liable to be seized with the rot.
Sheep are subject to various diseases, in common with other cat- . tie, such as that of being hoven (see vol. i. p. 464-5), etc.; but there are several disorders peculiar to the former; and which, it will be useful . to state, together with the most approved remedies : namely,
1. The Fly-struck, which see.
2. The Rubs, or Rubbers, may be known by the restlessness of the animals, which rub themselves in every attitude; their skins being perfectly clean, without any trace of scab : when dead, their, flesh assumes a greenish cast, but does not possess a bad taste. Sheep fed in fine meadows are more liable to be thus affected, than such as are pastured on poor soils : the disease generally terminates at the end of three or four mouths. No cause has yet been assigned for the Rubs; the malady having hitherto appear--ed chiefly in the county of Norfolk. Mr. Young, however, informs us, that it originates from a whitish-yellow worm which settles in the brain; being about an inch and a half in length, and of the thickness of a common goose-quill , He observes that, at pre sent, there is no prospect of cure ; but, if the generation of this insect could be discovered, the disorder may possibly be prevented.
3. The Rot ; and,
4. The Scab ; to which we refer.
6. The Dunt is occasioned by a vesicular collection of water in the head; and for which no cure has hitherto been devised.
7. The Fly or Maggot, is an insect that breeds in the skin of sheep. If the animal be attacked before shearing, it becomes sickly and indisposed; its wool, not yielding a sufficient quantity of yolk, affords a warm Best for the reception of the eggs, which are speedily hatched. The maggots immediately feed on the flesh of the sheep ; and, if they be not timely destroyed by the application of tar, the vermin will multiply so rapidly, as to destroy the animal in a short time.
3. Giddiness is conjectured to proceed from a worm, which insinuates itself under the horns, and causes the sheep to stagger, or reel: it may be cured by perforating those parts. Such distemper is also said to be induced by weakness, in con sequence of poor keep : hence, relief may be afforded by removing the animal to better pasture, and allowing it a sufficiency of dry, nourishing food.
10. The Tick is a small, flat, brownish insect, that infests sheep; and, if it be not speedily destroyed, is very detrimental both to the fiesh and wool: it has six legs, and a flat proboscis with three notches on each side ; by means of which it insinuates itself into the pelt or skin. Soon after the insect has thus settled, its legs drop off, and a scab is formed on the surface; from which a small portion of ichorous matter is discharged. The scabby crust increases with the growth of the tick : which, when arrived at its full size, Dearly resembles that of a middling horse-bean ; and other insects are generated, to the great injury of the flock. In order to remove these troublesome vermin, it has been recommended to mix an ounce of corrosive sublimate, a quarter of a pound of bay-salt, and one ounce of cream of tartar (the last two articles being iousiy pulverized and sifted). with two quarts of soft water. The wool must be separated, and the diseased spots washed with this liniment two or three times, or oftener, if it be found necessary ; till the insects be effectually destroyed.
11. The White Scour is an ut-common looseness, occasioned by feeding sheep on putrescent vegetables ; and particularly on the. shells of turnips, which have been suffered to lie on the ground for-some time, after the animals have eaten or scooped out the substance of the root. As soon as this malady appears, it has been directed to pulverize and silt half a pound of dry bay-salt, which is first to be gradually mixed with a pint of old verjuice, and then with half a pint of common gin. The diseased quadrupeds must be separated from the rest of the flock, and three large spoonfuls be given to each ; the dose being repeated on the second; cond or third succeeding day, according to the exigency of the case. 12. The Staggers; 13. The Foot-halt; 14. The Foot-rot; 15. The Pelt-rot; 16. The Gall; 17. The Rickets; 18. The Flux ; for which respective disorders the reader is referred to the alphabet.
19. The Sheep-fagg, or Hippo-bosca ovina, is an insect well known to shepherds. Its beak, consisting of two valves, is cylindrical, obtuse, and pendent; and the feet have several claws. These depredators live among the wool: they materially prevent sheep from thriving, in consequence of the severity with which they bite, and the blood they extract from the tortured animals ; but, on account of the hard shell, or cover surrounding them, they are with difficulty destroyed. - The remedy suggested by Sir Joseph Banks for curing the Rot (which see), may also be safely applied to the extermination of the Sheep-fagg ; as thus tits quality of the wool will not be in the least impaired.
20. Obstructions in the lacteal ducts of the udders of ewes, after the lambs are yeaned. The whole udder is covered with hard tumors or knobs, which, in a short time, become inflamed; and, if the parts affected be not speedily relieved, a mortification will take place in the course of 24 hours ; and the animal must consequently perish. As soon, therefore, as the tumors appear, it will be proper to clip off the wool closely to the skin, and to open the principal milk vessels with a razor, or similar sharp instrument; the morbid matter should then be expressed, and a little fresh butter applied to the wound. The ewe, thus a fected, must be separated from the flock ; and, though perhaps losing the use of one teat, she may be suffered to suckle her lamb ; but, if both teats be diseased, the latter must be reared by hand, and the dam fattened for sale.
Sheep are farther liable to be bitten, torn or worried, from the carelessness, or impatience of the shepherd; or, from his dogs not being sufficiently broken in, as well as from the dogs of other persons ; in consequence of which, the wool is often injured, and its value greatly reduced. Such accidents, however, may be prevented by proper care and attention.
Lastly, to preserve the health of sheep, it will be advisable that every farmer, or breeder, daily inspect his flock, and take particular care, that their tails be kept perfectly clean: nor should they be folded two successive nights on the same spot; being more tender and obnoxious to disease than other quadrupeds.
No animal is more useful than the sheep, which supplies man with food and clothing, while it furnishes numerous poor families with constant employment, in the various branches of the woollen manufacture. Its milk is very nutritious (see vol. iii. p. 201); and its flesh is a grateful and wholesome food (see Mutton) : farther, the principal parts of the skin are advantageously converted into parchment; and the clippings, or shreds, are boiled into Glue; a substance which is indispensable to carpenters, joiners, and cabinetmakers. The horns are formed into buttons, and various other ar-ticles of conveniency : the trotters afford, on expression, an oil which is usefully employed in several branches of the boiled, or baked, they fa nourishing repast. - Lastly, Dung (see vol. ii. p. 198) luable and even their bones, when reduced to ashes, constitute a principal ingredient in the compositions for artificial for ornamental pieces, cornices, etc.
On account of these numerous it will, there-uninteresting to give a . view of the different existing in Britain, and which is selected from Mr. CulLEy's practical Observations on Live Stock, 8vo. 2d edit. Robinsons, 1795.
To these different breeds must be added, 1. The improved Gloucester, or the Cotswold Sheep, enlarged by the old producing full well-flavoured mutton : and, 2. The Staffordshire Cannock -heath sheep, which resembles those of the South Down. Both these breeds are said to be susceptible of great improvement by crossing, and been highly recommended to the attention of breeders.
Beside the native kinds, or varieties, of this valuable animal, we. cannot in this place omit to mention the Spanish Sheep, which have within a imported into Britain, with a view to improve the English breeds. Numerous experiments consequently instituted, immediate superintendence of Lord Somerville, and the Board of Agriculture ; which a tended with the most desirable that patriotic no-lately performed a journey into Spain, with the sole of collecting a number of the finest Spanish sheep : and thence imported twelve rams. From his acknowledged skill in the symmetry of this valuable animal, we trust that they will be a real acquisition to animated by the motives, has to give upwards of one ewes, to have engaged to conduct experiments by ing ; and we understand, that our Gracious Sovereign, in 1801, permitted some of his male and fethe Spanish breed, to be sold at reasonable prices, with a view to the national improvement of that staple commodity, WooL.