SHEEP Improvement in U. S. Should Result from Recent Importations

During the last decade the Bureau of Animal Industry has made a special effort to supply the State agricultural colleges and experiment stations with rams of the highest quality to be used by them in the production of superior breeding animals. These in turn are passed on to farmers for the production of lambs and wool. Such animals have gone out from this Federal Bureau to 31 State institutions and in most cases have left a decided impression upon the sheep industry.

In order that this service may be made as useful as possible and that the quality of the animals may be the most meritorious, the Bureau recently acquired for its breeding operations at Sheep Acres, Beltsville, Md., some of the finest animals of the Shropshire, Hampshire, and Southdown breeds available from the most successful sheep-breeding establishments in England and Scotland. A consignment of merit which arrived in November 1933, consisted of 20 ewes and 4 rams especially selected at the dispersal sale of the famous Corston flock of Shropshires owned by the late T. A. Buttar of Coupar Angus, Scotland (figs. 58 and 59).

A second consignment of the most select animals available arrived at the Government farm in September 1934. In this last importation were 6 yearling ewes (fig. 60) and 2 stud rams of the Hampshire breed.  One of these rams, bred by Maj. V. S. Bland of Aldbourne, England, was selected for his outstanding individuality (fig. 61). He was a show ram that was undefeated during the entire show season. The other ram was a show ram as a lamb, bred in the famous Pendley flock of Tring, England. He was used extensively as a sire the following fall and has proved his ability to sire lambs of exceptional merit. Four of the ewes were outstanding show animals, bred by E. Clifton Brown of Burnham, England, and two were select breeding ewes from the famous Flower flock at Chilmark, England. This consignment of Hampshires gives the Bureau as good a representation of the breed as was possible to find in England. Their offspring should prove to be of superior merit and should justify their importation by the increased efficiency of their progeny in the flock.

FIGURE 58.—Shropshire stud ram, Corston no. 84, yearling ram in service in the Bureau of Animal Industry’s flock, Beltsville, Md.  The ram was obtained at the dispersal sale of T. A. Buttar, of Coupar Angus, Scotland, in 1933.

FIGURE 59.—Shropshire yearling and 2-year-old ewes obtained at the T. A. Buttar dispersal sale and imported to add to the Bureau’s breeding flock at Beltsville, Md.

FIGURE 60.—Three of the Hampshire yearling show ewes which won first prize wherever shown in England, including the English Royal Show at Ipswich. These ewes were part of the importation in 1934 and are now a part of the breeding flock at Beltsville, Md.

The Southdown selection consisted of the champion pen of yearling ewes at the English Royal Show, 3 other show ewes, and a show ram (fig. 62) of exceptional merit from the flock of J. Pierpont Morgan.

In addition to these, 5 yearling breeding ewes and an exceptional stud ram selected from the famous Luton Hoo flock were obtained. This outstanding ram was champion at all the principal shows during the season, including the Royal at Ipswich.  This consignment is unquestionably one of the best of the breed ever brought into the country and the superior merit of the animals should be manifest through their progeny for many years to come in Southdown flocks of the United States.

   The other animals other animals in this importation were two Shropshire rams, one show ram that was bred in the flock of E. Craig Tanner, Eyton-on-Severn, England, which was first in his class at the Royal, and the other a show yearling bred by Maj. J. N. Ritchie of Tern, England. These rams should combine well in blood with the Buttar stock, imported the preceding year.

FIGURE 61.―Hampshire yearling ram with won first prize at all principal English shows, including the Royal at Ipswich in 1934.  Obtained for a stud ram in the Government flock at Beltsville, Md.

Although these English-bred sheep are not considered superior in all cases to those produced in the United States, the admixture of the best available imported blood to the best strains now being produced in this country should hasten flock improvement materially.  Complete performance records are being kept on these imported sheep and only production of wool and lambs will be retained for use in the Bureau’s experimental flocks.

FIGURE 62.—Southdown ram, Aldenham 839. An outstanding show ram and sire. Obtained for use at Beltsville, Md.

C. G. POTTS, Bureau of Animal Industry.