« PreviousContinue »
instance, if you begin with the linear dimension two, the square, being four, will represent the surface upon which the wool grows; the cube, which is eight, representing the carcass of the sheep, which has to be sustained. Now, if you double the linear dimensions—instead of making them two, make them four-you have a surface upon which the wool grows of sixteen; and the cube will be sixty-four. In the one case it is as one to two; in the other, as one to four. According to that calculation it would seem that we ought to raise the greatest quantity of wool per acre upon small sheep.
THE CULTURE OF LONG-WOOLLED SHEEP IN THE UNITED STATES.
BY JOSEPH WALWORTH."
Read before the Wool-Buyer's Association of Michigan, June 2, 1868.
PACIFIC MILLS, LAWRENCE, MASS., May 27, 1868. GENTLEMEN: Your favor of the 25th came duly to hand, and in reply would say that if I could I should have been glad to have been at your wool-buyers' convention.
In reply to your questions on combing and delaine wools, I would say that the wool-growers of the country have run too much into the same quality of wool, viz: about three-fourths blood. Now there is a certain amount of this quality of wool needed; but the markets have been flooded with this one kind, while medium or one-half blood and onefourth blood wools are absolutely scarce. This was largely brought about by the introduction of the black Spanish bucks from Vermont, and the result has been a deal more soggy and inferior-stapled wool for delaine; so that to-day both in Michigan and Ohio many sections that used to yield largely of delaine yield but very little, and the wool is not so desirable nor salable. Let the farmers learn that it is not profitable, neither for them nor the manufacturers, for them to grow blacktopped, heavy, soggy Spanish wool; but rather let them grow good stapled bulky fleeces, that are wool, and not 50 per cent. of worthless grease, and let them grow more variety of wools, and not all just about the same quality. There is a great demand for medium or one-half blood wools, and I think it will be a permanent demand.
But as a buyer of combing and delaine wools, I wish to say a few words on that subject. It is a fact there are not near enough combing nor delaine wools grown, and I am satisfied that if we had more of such wools, especially of the well-bred combing wools, the business that now calls for them would increase very rapidly. For if we had more variety of wools, many kinds of goods which are not made in this country at present (owing to the impossibility of getting the right kind of wool) would be manufactured here. Many persons, and especially wool-growers, are not aware of the importance of the worsted business that call for these wools.
In England the worsted business has grown wonderfully during the last 30 years, so that they need more of the worsted wools than they can grow, and they have encouraged the growth of these wools in Holland and some other countries. This business has also increased very rapidly during the last few years both in Belgium and France. Two years since I was in one firm in the north of France where they combed 3,000,000 pounds of worsted wools a year. They combed on commission for the spinners of the surrounding country.
1 Mr. Walworth is exclusively employed in selecting and purchasing combing wools for the Pacific mills, and his suggestions are of great practical value.
The worsted business is comparatively a new business in the United States. In 1861 there were only three principal firms that used combing and delaine wools, and altogether they did not use over 3,000,000 pounds per year, while now there are 25 firms in the States, and altogether they use 12,000,000 pounds per year. Besides this large increase in the business in this country, we import very heavily every year of worsted goods. Many ask me if the demand for these wools will be permanent, or only transient. I unhesitatingly reply that the demand will not only be permanent, but must continue to increase; and any one will see that it must be so, when I name a few of the classes of goods made from combing and delaine wools, viz: Delaines, bareges, stuff dress goods of all kinds, serge and moreens for skirts and coverings, braid, Italian cloth for gentlemen's coat linings and for uppers for ladies' and children's boots; damask, for furniture coverings, pew coverings, and table-cloths; bunting, for banners and flags; (all the star-spangled banners in America and all other flags, except silk flags, are made from wool;) reins and girths for horses, many sashes for military men, picture cord and tassels, warps for carpets, clouds, Ristori shawls, &c., &c.
Where is the wool grown for these goods ? England and Ireland grow the most and best worsted wools. In some parts of France, in Transyl. vania, Hungary, and Holland—all these places grow a little combing wool, but they are all second-rate wools as compared with the English. In this country, Upper Canada is the principal place. We now begin to get some good wools from Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Maine, New York, and some other scattered points.
The man who grows combing wool has less competition than the man who grows the common merino wool, for England and France need all the combing wool grown in Europe, and they are already competing with us for the Canada wools; so the man who grows these wools has no competition, and he has a permanent and growing demand for his wool, while the man who grows the merino three-quarter blood has to compete with Australia, where it pays to grow these wools at eight cents per pound, and where but a very few years ago they only raised a few thousand pounds of wool. But now they export to England 100,000,000 pounds per year, and are rapidly increasing; they have to compete with New Zealand, where they grow splendid delaines wool; they have to compete with the Cape of Good Hope, where they now export 50,000,000 pounds per year. They have to compete with Buenos Ayres and the rest of South America. They have also to compete with California, Texas, and the cheap lands and prairies of the west. The merino sheep is adapted to run in large flocks, and pays best where land is cheap, and where they keep sheep only for the wool, for they are not a good mutton sheep, and in all the places I have mentioned mutton is almost valueless, while in England and Canada they keep these sheep as much for the value and profit of the mutton as the wool. And owing to the great improvement in the breeding of sheep and cattle, they can now bring sheep to maturity in England much earlier than formerly, and by this means get good young
mutton for the market. Their wool, as a consequence, has improved very much for worsted purposes. It is grown on younger, better bred, better cared-for sheep than formerly, consequently the wool of the same fineness will spin further and better. Wool from old sheep, or sheep that are running out in breed, is brashy, and will work hairy and rough, and make poor goods.
Canada wool has improved fully 10 per cent. during the last five years. Kentucky has taken hold of this business in good earnest, and they are getting good prices and a quick market for both their wool and mutton; and wherever these wools are grown in the States, they are readily sold at good prices. And they are the most profitable wools to grow for those who are adapted to keep such sheep, for the fleece will weigh from four to six pounds of well-washed wool, and the carcass is large, weighing from 150 to 250 pounds each.
These sheep are more profitable to keep than the merino. I extract* from the New England Farmer the following: Mr. Winnie, of New York State, fed the last season 901 head of sheep, 180 of which were merinos, the balance Canada Leicesters, and they were sold for $12,049.
To test the comparative profit of feeding the two kinds of sheep, Mr. Winnie set apart 60 Leicesters and 61 merinos, which were weighed February 10. The merinos were chosen from 600, and they were the best of their kind. They were kept till March 28, or 46 days. The following is the result:
Pounds. February 10, 60 coarse wools weighed.
8, 870 March 28, 60 coarse wools weighed...
Gain in 46 days....
Total cost of feed, (hay, grain, oatmeal, roots, &c.,) for 46 days $174 43
If the coarse wooled sheep gained 1,008 pounds at a cost of $174 43, the merinos ought to have gained 836 pounds at a cost of $144 78 for feed—whereas they gained only 480 pounds, or little more than half in proportion to cost.
As compared with live weight, the coarse wools gained 114 per cent. in the 46 days, and the merinos not quite 7 per cent.
In Brighton market, the day before Christmas in 1839, there were only 400 sheep offered for sale, while the same day, in 1859, 5,400 sheep were sold in the same market. Fine woolled sheep sold from $1 50 to $4 50, while Leicesters sold from $11 upwards, and in 1866, in the same market,
Leicesters sold from $10 to $16 per head. In Cleveland, this spring, I know one farmer who sold 24 Leicester sheep to the butcher for $12 50 a head.
In one market in England, in Norwich, there are sold every Saturday from 6,000 to 8,000 hoggets or yearling sheep, and they sell from $12 50 to $14 50 a head. These are mostly what we call half-bred—that is, some dark faced Down ewe, crossed by a Leicester or Cotswold ram. This makes better mutton than pure Leicester or Cotswold, the meat is not so fat, and the grain is finer, and the half-bred wool is valued in England as highly as any kind.
Now, although it may be most profitable to keep combing woolled sheep, yet it won't do for every one to go into it indiscriminately. Men who wish to have large flocks of sheep-say several thousand-or even a thousand in a flock, ought not to keep these sheep, but will do better with the merino. Men living on the prairies ought not to keep them, for the prairies will not grow combing wool. But I think they should in many parts of Kentucky, Ohio, the hills of Pennsylvania and New York, and in Maine, and in many parts of New England, and in best parts of Michigan. And in particular I would suggest to those farmers who have now in many of the States coarse native sheep, whose wool is common, and does not yield much combing or delaine, that if they would cross these sheep with a Leicester or Cotswold ram–I like the Leicester bestin one year they would receive more than 50 per cent. for their outlay, for their sheep would be larger, and their wool would yield probably 20 per cent. more delaine, or combing, which sells for more and sells quicker, and follow this cross up for a few years, and they might, with very little expense, improve the breed of all such sheep. I do not recommend them to buy very costly rams for common purposes. Let men who make breeding a business buy the fancy bucks.
I would not recommend the farmers in the far west, or in very new countries, to keep these sheep, for in such places the breed is apt to run out, and the wool becomes brashy and hairy, and of very little value. I think Michigan well-adapted for delaine wools of the medium grades. In that branch I have always classed her next to Ohio. Any farmers wanting combing woolled sheep can now find them in many parts of the States as well as Canada. I think Burdett Loomis, esq., of Windsor Locks, Connecticut, has some of the best sheep in the country, and F. W. Stone, esq., of Guelph, Ontario, has a great variety of sheep, and is a large dealer in long-woolled sheep.
Mr. Shields, of Newark, Licking county, Ohio, has tried the experiment on a small scale of keeping these sheep, and has proved it a great success. I saw his wool, and it was equal to any wool I ever saw anywhere. He says it is far more profitable to raise these sheep than the merinos, independent of the great advantage of having so much quicker and surer a market for both wool and mutton. Yours, truly,
JOSEPH WALWORTH. Messrs. THOMAS MCGRAW & Co., Detroit.