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This State is well adapted for the raising of stock, of almost every variety, on account of the rich grass-land, and the prairies, which yield an abundance of excellent fodder.
The value of cattle consists chiefly in the quantity and quality of milk and beef they will produce at maturity.
She Durham breed seems to thrive very well in Illinois ; they are the kind called also short horns. A few of the most prominent and never-failing characteristics, are: color, which is always red or white, or a mixture of the two-no other colors are ever found
themand a bright, full eye, encircled with a skin of rich cream color; the nose also of the same color. Any variations from these—any black in the skin of the nose, is an indication of an impure breed. The horns are small and tapering, generally bent, and of a yellow or light waxy color; small, but lengthy, tapering head; fine, tapering tail; rather short legs; fine, and bony body.
James N. Brown, the first President of the State Agricultural Society, is one of the best stock farmers of the State—his herd of “short horns" standing almost unrivalled, and his other stock being the best of their kind. If any one desires to see a fine sample of a Central Illinois stock-farm, and some of the best Durham's in the State, he need only go to Mr. Brown's farm, at Island Grove, Sangamon County, Illinois.
Another gentleman, B. F. Harris, Esq., residing in the edge of the Sangamon timber, ten miles west of Urbana, is also a very successful and enterprising stock-farmer. A herd of one hundred cattle, averaging 1965 pounds, fed by him, took the premium at the World's Fair, in New York. For stock-raising, Central and Southern Illinois offer great advan
tages, as the winters are comparatively mild and short, and domestic animals consequently require less feeding, and can be raised with less expense than in a higher latitude.
Last year, cattle did well upon the prairies until late in December. It is expedient to feed from the middle of November until the latter part of March. A pasture of blue grass will keep cattle and other live stock in good condition for ten months.
The different kinds of cattle reared and bred in this State, are, besides the Durham, or "short horn," of which we have spoken before, the Devons, the Herefords, the Ayrshires, the Holsteins, and the Alderney, or Guernsey cattle. Although it must be admitted that the Durhams grow to a larger size, and come to maturity younger, it should not be asserted that they are, for these reasons, superior to all other breeds. The Devons are notable, and perhaps even superior to any other kind, for the creamy properties of their milk, for being firstrate working cattle, and for the quality of their beef. They are of two kinds—the North, and the South Devons. The North Devons are of a deep red color, with long, well turned, and beautifully tapering horns; stand low, on small bony legs; compact, symmetrical forms, so much so as to deceive the eye with regard to their weight; hair soft and silky, and generally in curled and wavy lines; eyes bright and prominent, encircled with a golden-colored skin; small, wellformed heads, shorter and broader than the Durhams; muzzle fine, the skin of the nose like that around the eyes, of a rich, golden color; tail set on high, even with the back, and rather long, terminating in a tuft of silvery white hair. These are never failing marks of the breed.
Price of Cattle and Beef.—Working oxen are sold from $80 to $125 per yoke. Young cattle cost from $2 50 to $3 per hundred weight, or about $25 per head. Cows sell in the fall at from $20 to $25—in the spring, together with the young calf, at $30. Some five years ago, the price for cow and calf was not over $15. The prices rise more and more every year, and it is seldom now that a weaned calf can be bought in autumn as low as $6.
Good beef sells at present at from $4 to $5 per hundred weight. Of all markets in the State, the most extensive business in cattle and
beef is done at Chicago, which from its location offers such facilities for eastern transportation.
The dairying interest of Illinois must doubtless be very great. The value of the butter and cheese of Illinois, for 1850, was $1,668,076. Each cow in the great State of Illinois, produced on an average for her owner, in 1850, 42 pounds of butter, and from 4 to 5 pounds of cheese, which brought him about $5 50. Butter in the Chicago market usually averages about 22 cents per pound. Cheese usually sells for from 8 to 123 cents.
Horses.-Illinois is well adapted for the rearing of horses.
Till within a few years, little attention has been paid to the improvement of horses. Hay is abundant, and oats can always be raised at a trifling cost, so that there is no reason for this want of attention to the breeding of horses, the more since the climate in general is so well suited to the most perfect development of the carriage, the draught, and the dray-horse.
Horses are rather high in price a good working horse sells now at from $125 to $150, while some four or five years ago, they were worth from $75 to $100. A weaned foal is worth in his first fall, from $30 to $40.
As the buying of horses entails a considerable expense on farmers, they would do much better to raise them themselves, and to keep for the purpose
at least one good mare. There is no scarcity of stallions. The mare should be spared a couple of weeks before and after the foaling, leaving her in the prairie for grazing. The young foals are left with the mare for about four or five months, after which time they are to be accustomed to the collar with care, and kept in the stable for a short time. The foals are usually broken for work after they are three years old, and one should not commence with them sooner.
Mules are also raised pretty extensively in this State, and high prices are paid for them; they may feed upon coarser food than horses, and are often fed with corn-stalks, straw, &c.
Sheep do very well in Illinois, and are found to be a profitable stock, since wool-growing is becoming quite a business in some portions of the State. There are a number of flocks in Sangamon, Morgan, and adjacent counties. Prairie-wolves in the early history of this State, made great havoc among the flocks, but they make their
appearance very seldom and in some sections they have been entirely exterminated. A herd of sheep will do very well on a farm for trimming the pastures ; and some farmers say the average yield of fleece from large flocks is about three pounds. The flocks in some parts of Central Illinois are not sheltered in winter. It may be said that sheep consume food in proportion to their weight, that is to say, two sheep weighing 150 pounds each, require as much food as three sheep weighing 100 pounds each. A good fattening food for sheep is cake or corn, with chaff and roots.
Shorn sheep, sufficiently fat for the market, will contain about fifty pounds of carcass in every hundred pounds of the unfatted live weight.
Hogs.—This State is considered to be very suitable for raising swine. The favorite food of this animal, consisting in corn, is, we have seen, abundantly produced here. It is true that on prairie farms they are not found in large numbers, owing to the law which prohibits the running about of hogs, on account of the danger to the newly-erected fences; prairie farmers are therefore compelled to keep their hogs shut up in a comparatively small place, where the feeding of them during the whole year costs a great deal more than it would if they could freely run about, in search of their food.
One may therefore find larger herds in the neighborhood of woods, where the hogs are allowed to go to the bottoms after acorns, nuts, &c. Such food is very good for fattening them, and making them fit for market. The hog may be reared and fatted at much less
than any other domestic animal.
The breeds of swine that are most valued in North Illinois, are the Middlesex and the Suffolk ; these two varieties are very like in most respects; they are famous for their early maturity, as well as for their small consumption of food, and great proclivity to fatness. They do not grow to a large size, but their rapid development, in addition to their above mentioned qualities, renders them marketable much sooner than other varieties. This more than recompenses the farmer for their want of size. Suffolk pigs have been slaughtered when they were not over six months old, and their weight was then between three and four hundred pounds; they will easily bring from 11 to 2 cents
per pound more than other varieties of hogs, on account of their fine quality of meat and little loss in offal.
Many experiments have already been made by farmers in this State, with regard to hog-breeding; more than twenty different kinds exist here, and yet experience has led most farmers to the conviction, that the “Suffolk breed” is the best and most profitable of all varieties that are known throughout the State. The Suffolk may be continued either pure or crossed with the Mackay or different other varieties; by this means an increase in the size of the breed will be created.
The Suffolk pig was brought to this country by a gentlenian of Boston, who, amongst other importations, obtained this breed from Suffolk County, England, whence the London markets have received most of their supplies of pork during the last eight or ten years.
The inclination to fatness in hogs may be distinguished by the following points: head small; short snout; a dished face ; neck thick and short; the ear thin and small; the breast broad; the ribs round; the back straight; the loin broad; the rump long, from the hips backward; legs pretty small, and straight; the skin soft and smooth, with fine, thin bristles.
The principal varieties of "swine," besides those already mentioned, are : the Mackay breed; the Neapolitan; the Essex; and the Middlesex breed.
It would make this treatise too lengthy, should a full description, with all the particulars of these varieties be given; it may therefore suffice to say, that no practical farmer will fall short of his expectations, if he breeds the “Suffolk ;” and if he should wish to have larger hogs than are usually found in this race, he may try to make a breed, by using a full blood Suffolk or Middlesex, and an Essex boar. The breed thus raised will probably grow to a pretty large size, and weigh from 600 to 800 pounds, at the age of 15 or 18 months.
The average price for pork during the last four or five years, was from 33 to 4 cents a pound, while formerly it was still cheaper. At the beginning of last winter, (1855-6) an advance in pork took place, and from 7 to 77 cents per pound were paid; but these high rates gradually declined, so that soon after New Year's day the market prices were as follows: