[From T.Quayle Agriculture of IoM, 1812]
THE original Manks breed of cattle were low, deep-chested, hardy animals, of a dingy black, often with the ridge of the back, and ears, brown, or wholly of a dark brown colour, having seldom white or light coloured spots; short jointed, but not full in the hind quarter; the horn very thick at the root, and rather curving up-wards. They gave rich mills, but in small quantities; were easy to feed and fat, though not of early maturity. It would seem a breed well adapted to the climate, and the then state of culture.
From the influx of a variety of other breeds, this original race is disappearing.
The produce, in the month of June, of a dairy, the cows of which approached most nearly to the indigenous breed, and which were in good pasture, proved to be eight ale quarts to each cow ; the produce, in butter, one pound of 16 oz. to ten quarts of milk, nearly.
The cattle at present met with, are a mixture of the breeds of different countries, the number of calves reared falling much short of the wants of the country The principal irrportatioris are from Ireland : sometimes these prove good milkers ; but are late in coming to maturity, and slow feeders. On the first year of their importation, they are observed not to thrive, and are not so productive of tallow as the primitive Manks.
Individuals of the most valuable breeds have been imported from England, but sufficient attention has not hitherto been paid to rearing. In 1810, a farmer in the Castletown vale, introduced a whole dairy of the short-horn species, containing remarkably handsome specimume of that valuable breed ; to which attention will probably continue to be given. Among the recent importations, none seem better adapted to the soil and climate, or perhaps are in themselves more valuable than that bearing in Scotland the name of the Airshire, from the county which produces them. In Airshire, they are called Cuningham-cattle ; and, in the district of Cuningham itself, they bear the name of Dunlop-cattle, from the family name of the gentleman upon whose estate, and under whose care, the breed originated. They result from a cross of the short-horned cow with an Alderney bull. The colour varies from a dark brown, approaching that of a Devon, to the cream colour of the Alderney, in both cases generally mixed with a considerable proportion of white, though in some individuals no white appears. The head and horns are small ; the latter closely resembling the short-horned ; the neck thin ; little dewlap ; round and strait in the barrel, and perfectly free from any disposition to rise in the back-bone ; the loin and space between the hips flat and wide. In the leg, rather short than otherwise; bearing a general similarity to each of the breeds from which they spring. The design was probably to produce milkers, which should unite the quantity given by the short-horned, with the quality of the Alderney ; it has been successful. About seventy years have elapsed since the cross was made, and the breed is said to be daily rising in estimation. Attentive breeders select the darkest browns with little white, these being found more hardy than the cream-coloured, or those with much white, though it is admitted that the milk of the latter is richer. In favorable pastures, individual cows, milked thrice in the twenty-four hours, have given twenty-four quarts. Though the cows introduced into the island have been selected with considerable attention, and disregard to expense, by a gentleman of the family to whom the agricultural world is indebted for the existence of the breed, yet they have not hitherto evinced that superiority in milk, which, it is probable, when habituated to the soil and climate, they may attain. All Mr. Dunlop's cows, seventeen in number, are soiled ; having their liberty about half an hour in the morning, and the same space of time in the afternoon, if fair, to range a pasture-field contiguous to their house. By soiling, they keep in higher condition, and hold their milk longer, than when pastured ; and it is probable that the average of milk through the whole year will be considerably augmented, while the dung much more than compensates the labor of cutting and carrying the grass to them. These cows average, for the summer months, twelve quarts and a half of milk, and one pound of butter, each per day; which is about ttvo-thirds of the quantity which the same average gives in the best pastures in Airshire. The muck produced by soiling them is estimated at thirty single-horse cart. loads, or about thirteen ton and a half on each cow. Mr. Dunlop had once a crop of ray and clover, which maintained four milch cows per acre, from the 17th of May to the 31st of October. But this crop was of un-common quality; and he deems 212 cows to the acre, for the same period of time, a fair average. He also estimates that the same quantity of grass will maintain five cows soiled, which would carry but three when graced. As to the disposition to fatten, of the Dunlop breed, sufficient experiments are wanting. In the district of Cuningham, all the male calves, except those kept for bulls, are sold to the butcher ; and the cows, in consequence of the great demand for them all over Scotland, are seldom fatted till old. The opinion, however, is there entertained, that they are kindly feeders. Mr. Dunlop is now rearing a number of oxen of the breed, intended both for draft and the shambles.
Many cottagers and persons of the lower ranks, who can purchase food and find winter stall-room for a cow, keep one for their domestic supply of milk. Her winter food is the straw of barley and oats, with a little hay, and, in some instances, a few potatoes; more rarely, turnips. To increase the quantity of the milk, chaff, on which boiling water has been poured, is given, in tubs, to the cow. During fine weather, she is permitted to go out for a few hours; but grass for the winter-feed of cattle is seldom, if ever, reserved. Young stock, indeed, remain abroad, with the occasional assistance of sheaf-oats in the morning and at night, 'till frost and snow make their appearance. On the 12th of May it is usual to turn out cattle, and to take them in again on the 12th of November, housing cattle being the universal custom, except for young stock. Cattle from six to eight score per quarter, are estimated to leave from 5l. to 7l. for four months winter fatting. Remarkable thrivers, and heavier beasts, kept for a longer space of time, of course yield larger returns.
Though the labour of oxen seems well calculated for rough stony land, their pace being slower, and they themselves more steady and obedient than horses, yet few ox-teams are kept. In the low-lands, the horse is preferred on account of its superior quickness, and being better fitted for road labour.
From half an acre to three quarters is thought a good day's work for a team of four small oxen ; and from three quarters of an acre to an acre, for a horse team of two, three, or four, according to their strength ; the small holders frequently joining to make up a team. The ox, never going on the road, is not shod.
The milk-maid here proceeds to her work with two vessels ; when the quantity of milk given down by the cow begins to diminish, the smaller vessel is presented ; the last drawn milk, to which is given the name of strippings, is preserved apart, and poured at once into the cream-vessel. The quality of the butter made in the mountainous part of the island is excellently good and high flavoured. The butter-milk is also deemed a grateful beverage, and wholly consumed in the family. The cheese-press is always small ; and sufficient attention has not yet been given to this manufacture.
At different times attempts have been made, and successively abandoned, by farmers in the neighbourhood of the principal towns, to send there a regular daily supply of milk. The demand, it was said, was irregular, in consequence, in some degree, of the supply of milk occasionally furnished by trades-people keeping cows, and parting with the milk beyond their own consumption to their neighbours. It is not improbable that the price fixed on the commodity by the farmer, was found by the consumer to be beyond the proportion paid for other provisions. In the summer 18I1, the price paid for new milk, in Douglas, was 3d, for the wine quart ; 2d. for skimmed milk ; and is. per pound for fresh butter. At the same time, on the coast of Cumberland, an equal measure of new milk, unadulterated, and of excellent quality, sold at 2d.
For the sake of the poor, it is always to be wished that an opportunity should be given them of purchasing this valuable addition to their provisions. It is indispensible for the health of their children ; and the greater the consumption of it by themselves, the more is economized in fermented liquors.
THE Isle of Man has also an indigenous breed of sheep, little and hardy, but of mean appearance, with high backs and narrow ribs, slow feeders, and long in coming to maturity. The ewes are sometimes polled, sometimes horned; the rams always horned. Their general colour is white; but many are grey, some, black, and a few of a peculiar colour, approaching to that of an unblanched bitter almond, which in the language of the country is termed laughton. In the whole breed, a general distinctive mark is said to appear in a laughton-coloured patch in the back of the neck, which in the sheep of other colours disappears as the wool grows. Parents of the ordinary colours occasionally produce laughton lambs ; and vice versa. Another peculiarity attaches to the breed in the conformation of the tail, which has some resemblance to that of a goat, thick at the root, and tapering to the extremity. The lamb is a remarkably sinewy active animal ; playful like a fawn, and graceful in his movements. This breed appears to have been once widely dispersed. A cargo of Iceland sheep, which a gentleman 1 resident in the Isle of Man had an opportunity of examining, resembled the Manks precisely, and in every point; having amongst them a laughton individual. In St, kilda there appear to be sheep of that color.2
In the Shetland Isles they appear of the same parentage ; and they so nearly agree with No. 13, in Culley's List, called the Dun faced, as to make it probable that each are derived from the same original. In quality of wool, and in flavour of mutton, they bear strong resem-blance to the North Welsh; and in wool to the sheep of Delamere-forest. It is observed that sheep of the laughton colour are more tender and slower feeders than their brethren. But the esteem in which cloth and stockings manufactured of their wool are held by some Manksmen, as a sort of national distinction, leads to the preservation of sheep of this colour. From the influx of foreign breeds, it is however in some danger of being lost. One instance has occurred of the half-breed Southdown and Manks retaining its laughton colour with the make of its English parent.3 Several attempts have been made by the introduction of selected animals of the best breeds from England, to improve the fleece, and hasten the maturity of the animal. None can be made for the improvement of the mutton ; the flavor of which is admitted to be superior, when the animal has been kept to a proper age, to any of them. Pure Merino rams, those of its fourth cross with the Ryeland, the new Leicester, and South-down, have been severally introduced. The cross of each of these with Manks ewes, promises well. The twolatter have well formed heavy lambs; and in particular the cross between the South-down and Manks is little inferior, in any respect, to the male parent.
The Ryeland Merino 4 ram has been put to a lot of Manks ewes, selected by a manufacturer as bearing the finest wool, and their progeny dispersed throughout the island. The result of the experiment, still in progress, promises favorably. The wool, 1811, of a flock of Manks-Merino sold, unwashed, at 4s. per lb.; the blue cloth to be manufactured from it being all bespoken at 1l. 10s. per yard. The half-breed Manks-Merino lambs do not, it must be admitted, promise to be good feeders.
The greater part of the native sheep are removed during the summer to the mountains. On the approach of winter, they return to the lower grounds, and are lanketed ; often meeting at home with more scanty fare than on the mountains. When the ploughing commences, they are turned by the smaller farmers into the newly ploughed fields, and fare sumptuously on the weeds and their roots, which the sheep dig up with great assiduity. Thirty sheep have been observed to derive their whole sustenance from one single ploughed field for two months. The treatment of the improved breeds is more liberal ; but the wretched state of the fences makes the lanket indispensible to all. Strange as it may seem, it is universally asserted that the Manks sheep will not eat either hay or turnips ; but if such be their rule, it must be allowed that they are not often put in the way of temptation to violate it. Though salt is imported duty free, yet it is not given to them, except when affected by a liver complaint, for which it is deemed a remedy, and then administered by force.
In the year 1806, previous to the establishment of a manufacture of cloth from Manks wool for home consumption, enquiries were carefully made, from parish to parish, as to the number of sheep then actually kept ; the result was, that the number did not, in the whole island, exceed 18600.
On small farms, folding is practised. Single sod fences are constructed in the month of May, on a field dedicated to next year's barley ; dividing it into small square partitions. The cattle of the farm, and the sheep, if any summer there, are driven into these successively, and penned up at night. Being dismissed at dawn, they are collected again, and confitred an hour or two about noon. In each subdivision they are kept about ten nights. After weaning the lambs, the ewes are sometimes milked in those folds, and small quantities of milk collected, which art converted into curds, as a delicacy eaten with cream, or with cow's milk: sometimes, but at present rarely, manufactured, with a proportion of cow's milk, into a small but excellent cheese. In these folds the cattle and sheep are in this mode retained 'till September. No very injurious effects to either are observed to result from the folding system. It is at present on the decline. The benefit does not compensate the trouble; and it is found that better corn grows on that portion of the land where the single sod fences have been erected and thrown down, than on that on which the cattle themselves have been folded.
A Manks fleece is all carding wool. It contains black hairs; and wool of widely different degrees of fineness. The proportion of fine wool in each, varies from one-eighth to one-fourth part. The sheep are not washed before clipping ; and the wool delivered in a foul state loses from one-third to a full half in cleaning, the finer wool losing the greatest proportion. It is stated by the manufacturer, that Manks wool, compared with Southdown wool of an equal degree of fineness: is softer to the touch, works more smoothly, mills finer, and stretches better. In sheep of the same flock, a striking difference is observable ; if part have been fed on good pasture, the remainder on indifferent, the wool of the former grows too deep for the purpose of ma-nufacture, though not materially coarser. Much mischief has been and still is done to the quality of Manks wool by the importation, many years ago, of a Scotch breed called the Linton, the wool of which is coarse, and neither fit for combing nor carding. Rams of this breed are still indiscriminately placed on the mountains. Good and ill are ever found intimately mixed; with the improvement of carcase and wool, the imported breeds have introduced diseases hitherto unknown in a Manks flock. The scab in particular has made great progress. As usually happens, when any malady for the first time attacks any race of animals, men or brutes, whose progenitors and themselves have been wholly unaccustomed to it, at present its virulence is remarkable, and no adequate remedy has hitherto been generally applied. Against the maggots, a solution of allum, poured at an early period into the wounds which they occasion, has been found effectual. The sheep attacked with foot-rot are walked across hot lime; but sufficient care to keep the foot clean has not been afterwards taken.
Though it would seem that the sheep system is certainly the most advantageous to which the Insular farmer can devote his capital ; and though his farm would by their means become annually more productive, yet their number in this island is diminishing. The immediate and apparendy larger profits from liming, marling, and then taking successive crops of grain, have seduced the farmer to abandon his forefather's sheep ; and the imperfect state of the fences has probably confirmed him in that resolution.
Sufficient care is not taken to keep apart the different improved breeds, or to observe the effects of different crosses. Were the attention of two or three individuals, who most meritoriously direct it to these objects, to remit, the benefit already attained would probably be of short duration.
Parliament has permitted the annual exportation of 300 sheep from certain ports in Great Britain to the Isle of Man.
THE island had formerly its peculiar breed also of ponies, fine boned, sure footed ; blacks, greys, and bays: from neglect this breed also has become nearly extinct. Still less care than with regard to horned cattle and sheep, has been taken to replace the indigenous breed by the introduction of good draft-horses. In the uplands a small breed is yet to be found, kept at slender expense, rarely housed in winter. When wanted, they are fetched home in the morning, and after a feed of sheaf-oats or hay, worked all day, and in the evening, after another feed, dismissed again to the pasture. The animal thus treated must be unequal to the spring-ploughing ; but from the cessation of work in summer, gradually recovers. Since the complete establishment of two-horse ploughs, it has become still more necessary that the husbandry-horses should possess strength. Those now in use in the low-lands are partly bred in the northern district of the island, where the luxuriant pasture make's them bony and strong, or they are imported from the north of Ireland ; the former having, in general, the preference. The amount of duties on the British side of the channel, with the custom-house charges, is so heavy, as to preclude the supply of ordinary horses from that quarter. Some good stallions have indeed been imported, from which considerable improvement has been effected. In the low-land farms, horses are taken from grass before the weather breaks in autumn, and fed with from half a peck to a peck of oats in the day. Chaff in horse-food is not in ordinary use ; sometimes cut straw economizes their hay, and for heavy work is thought better than hay alone. The winter-keep of a horse is now estimated at 18l. or 20l. ; his summer-grass at 61. This animal is not here subject to any peculiar maladies. The wind of horses is often affected in consequence, probably, of their feed being principally ray-grass-hay, which induces them to drink greedily. When too long stabled, the grease is also frequent.
When hard pressed for food in the winter and spring months, horses in rough pastures are said to have found out the means of procuring food from furze. They attack the growing bush with their fore-feet, and, with the aid of their shoes are enabled to pound it 'till it can be safely masticated. In North Wales, and in Scotland, horses resort to the same practice.
Shoes cost 3 1. per set for large horses; less for the smaller: this work is ill executed.
Asses and mules are here never employed in husbandry, and are extremely rare. It is admitted that the latter are strong and active ; but when pastured with horses they usually disagree.
THE Isle of Man had also its peculiar breed of pigs, now totally extinct. In summer they ran wild in the mountains ; were lank ; of a sandy or grey colour, with black spots, and, as tradition reports, partook of the wild-boar flavor. Their number was, in former days, sufficiently great to attract the cupidity of the tithe-owners. Though these animals ranged the mountains, yet the property in them was as clearly ascertained as that in sheep. In the year 1577, a collection of the spiritual laws and customs directs, an account to be taken, at Martinmas, of Purrs, (the provincial name of this breed) of which the tithes were to be received of the husbandman at Easter. From eight, nine, or ten purrs, one was to be taken, provided the husbandman, out of the whole number, might select one or two ; if any man had but five purrs, he still might select one, the proctor then to praise (appraise) the rest : and the husbandman to take or give; meaning, perhaps, that he might retain all his hogs, paying the tith of the whole value, as affixed by the proctor on the lot ; or give up one of them, retaining the best.
It is to be inferred from the period of time fixed for the delivery of the tithe-purr, that the whole were then within the power of the owner: and that therefore the time for sending them again to the mountain did not take place 'till after Easter. None are now sent thither of any description. Various breeds exist in the island, One large species is of a sandy colour, with black spots ; an arched back, narrow round the loins ; long legs and snout ; the ear flapping ; probably originating from their neighbours to the went. Another, coal black, short legs, round barrel, and in general well made, which are said to have been brought hither from the Guinea coast. They thrive well, and have a resemblance to the Chinese breed. Many other species, and their several mixtures, are found ; every cottager has one or more to consume the small potatoes and offal of the house. When ready to fatten, they are at first fed with potatoes raw or boiled; and, at their finishing, with corn or meal. In winter, the market is abundantly supplied with pork, at 5d. or 6d. per pound, exposed to sale in quarters, weighing from 30 to 50lb. Pigs at six weeks old sell at 9s. to 10s. 6d. each ; they are often delivered at that age to cottagers, who return to the breeder a quarter of the hog when slaughtered. A small quantity of hams and bacon is annually exported. Their styes are confined ; but the animal is not here subject to any particular distemper.
IN the large island, south-west of the Isle of Man, is a warren of the common rabbit. Nothing peculiar in its produce or management occurs to mention. There being no hares on that island, the experiment was made of turning loose a few brace. The rabbits never ceased pursuing these timid strangers, as long as they had life.
Manks hares are remarkably large. Pennant, who had visited the island, notices (British Zoology, 4th edit. vol, i. page 200), that "Hares differ much in size; " the smallest are in the isle of Islay; the largest in that of Man; where some have been found to weigh twelve pounds."
The necessary consequence of numerous cottage farmers, is abundance of poultry and eggs. When carried to market, the former are however very imperfectly fatted. The price of turkeys, which are small, is about 3s. 6d. ; geese, 2s. and 2s. 6d. ducks is. 6d. each ; barn-door fowls is. or is. 6d. per couple. Eggs in September 6d. per dozen.
ABOUT some gentlemen's residences, dove-cots are seen; and millers also breed a few pigeons. They are not numerous; but sufficiently so for the farmer's interest, in a country where bird-keepers are never employed.
The insular law inflicts a penalty of 20s. on shooting pigeons.
TPIE flavor of Manks honey is much esteemed, and bee-hives are not infrequent. In sheltered situations they do well ; but the storms of wind to which the island is continually exposed, must interrupt the labors, and often prove destructive to this industrious insect. Bee-hives are sometimes given out to cottagers, on condition to return half the honey, and account for the produce of the succeeding hives, the property in which continues with the original owner.
By the insular law, to steal bee-hives is a capital offence. The price of honey in 1810, was about 1s. per lb. In the comb ; 2s. 6d. clarified, per quart.
1 John Wade, Esq. of Port y' Shee ; to whose kindness the Reporter is indebted for the principal part of his information re-specting Manks sheep.
2 Martin's Voyage to St. Kilda, p. 27 "The sheep generally are speckled ; some white ; some phillamort."
3 Among the Norfolk sheep, (a breed now fast diminishing in number, though in two points superior to their more successful competitors, the Southdown; namely, in having a greater pro-portion of kidney-fat, and wool of a better quality for milling,) individuals occasionally appeared of a rusty brown color; but less uniform in hue than the Manks laughton. It was observed in the Norfolk breed, that sheep of this color were also of more tender constitutions, and slower feeders. They were called by some shepherds in Suffolk, by the provincial name of Brent-lambs. In the Manks language the participle passive plural "Burnt" is expressed by Loshtyn. Of this word, possibly, the term, Laughton, is a corruption, The color may be thought to resemble that of wool which has been singed. The more infrequent occurrence of Brent lambs in the Norfolk breed, may be accouured for, by the uniform rejection of individuals of this color as breeders, on account of their tender constitutions,
4 Imported by Mr. Kelly, a clothier. [FPC ? William Kelly of Union Mills]