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AGRICTURE.I i

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AGRICTURE. I i Failures in Hatching. We have received many letters, says the editor of the Field, respecting the failures that so often occur in hatching. The determination of the cause is puzzling alike to the oldest fanciers and the youngest tyroos in gallinacean lore. We really know but little about the subject. It is true that we are able to state with certainty that eggs that have not been fertilised remain perfectly clear, and, by examining the batoh egg by egg against a candle, can be readily detected at the end of a week, when they should be removed to afford more warmth and space for the others; but of the cause of certain eggs laid by the same hen being fertile and others sterile, we know no more than we do of the cause of some seeds in a pea-pod being fertilised and others not. Again, why chickens should die half-formed in the shells, or why, if fully developed, they should not have power to burst their prison, wecannot tell. It is all very well to say that birds in an artificial state are not so fertile as those under more natural conditions, which is doubtless true. But this state- ment will not explain the ever-varying circumstances that puzzle the breeder. In one yard under our ewn immediate inspection, three white Cochin hens are running with a vigorous young cook. They have free range over grass and arable land, are fed without stint, and well housed. A month since one hen hatched out two wretched chickens from 11 eggs. This week another produces 13 healthy chickens from 13 eggs. The accommoda- tion is the same now as then, and the weather has not been warmer; moreover, the advancing season would not aocount for the difference, as the earlier hatches from the eggs laid by the same hens were very fair. It appears one of those circumstances that in our pre- sent amount of knowledge does not admit of being satisfactorily explained. All we do know is the general rule, that the more healthy and vigorous our stock birds, and the more nearly they are kept under natural conditions, having wholesome food, clean water, exten- sive run, cleanly kept roosting-houses, and all those conditions which conduce to vigorous health both in man and the lower animals, the more successful we shall be in hatching. The Supply of Animal Food. An instructive paper on this subject was lately read fcy Mr. Robert Smith before the Farmers' Club. For some years past, and more especially within the last year or two, the question of How to increase our live stock" and meet a constantly growing demand has naturally engaged the attention of thinking men, and still remains to a great extent unanswered. Until the recent returns of the Board of Trade, we were, as a nation, profoundly ignorant of our resources. Very few had taken any trouble on the matter, and those who, like Caird, Lavergne, and others had attempted a calculation, arrived at conclusions from very insuffi- cient premises. Lavergne, for example, in 1850, cal. culated the area of the British Isles at over 77,000,000 acres, and put the horned cattle at about 8,000,000, and the sheep at 35,000,000, whereas, unless the returns just published are altogether incorrect, we had, on a certain day in March, 8,316,960 head of cattle, and 25,794,708 sheep. The latter are lamentably short of the estimate, and we cannot but feel that the proportion of sheep stock ought to be increased; and we believe that there is room for this. We naturally ask how ? Unanimity then changes into diversity. Every one has a theory; every one can suggest a plan which, if carried out, would set us all straight; but, unfortunately for these oracles, conditions are variable, and though much may be done and must be done, the plan of proceeding will be different. We de not know at present the proportion of stock kept on heavy and light soils; this would be valuable information. We believe that the heavy land is sadly deficient in sheep stock, and that under good manage- ment a great improvement is possible. Of course, nothing can be done until the land is made healthy by drainage. Then we feel confident that breeding flocks may be kept with advantage, the sheep being yarded during the winter, and the roots drawn from the land. Grass land is now too often shamefully neglected, and judicious outlay will bring a better return than money laid out on the arable land. Having made the pastures sufficiently dry-a point that can only be ascertained by experience, for grass may be and often is over drained, and frequently the effects of poverty are mistaken for evidences of moisture-we must see about restoration. The ques- tion of breaking up, cleaning, and relaying will depend upon the condition of the sward and the nature of the soil and climate, as favouring grass or otherwise. Where there is anything like a bottom, where the whole surface is not one mass of twitch-in short, in all but the very worst oases, we strongly recommend keeping the sward as it is. The first thing to do in the spring is to give it a good tearing with heavy iron harrows, to let in the air and tear up moss and bad grass; then, on a clay soil, sow a mixture of super- phospate of lime and a manure supplying nitrogen; nitrate of soda is perhaps the most direct and effective. The application should be made some time in April. The grass may be mown, or fed by sheep and cattle, eating some corn or cake; the good grasses are thus encou- raged, and the next year the land has a better face on it. Continue the artificial, and contrive a moderate dress- ing of soil and manure well mixed. The results on clay must be satisfactory. The face of the land alters, and we have double the produce, and sweet nutritious grasses in place of sour, unwholesome growth. Ewes that previously could not have been kept alive through winter will now, with management, live well if supplied with a moderate allowance of roots, and thus we at once secure a large increase of breeding stock. 0 -?1 by the assertion that clay land is t sh?ep> and thafc ifc WOQld be useless to breed. But assertions are not arguments; and whilst we entirely agree that, in the present exhausted and neglected state of grass land the attempt to winter sheep would be ridiculous, we as confidently affirm that, when done well good sheep keep will be produced, and the stock will thrive. The grass land thus being put in a fair way of recovery, we must turn attention to a snrmfv of food from the arable land. With proper drainage and deep cultivation no one will deny the possibilty of grow- ing good swedes, &-c.-indeed, they are more certain than on light soils; but, as these cannot be consumed on the land, there ia heavy outlay in removing them and the risk of poaching the soil; therefore a limited amount of such will suffice. The mangold ripening earlier and keeping better, is more suitable ⢠but even of these we shall not need a very large area', and the bulk of our fallow ground is at liberty for summer and autumn crops, which can be safely eaten off in preparation for wheat; autumn and spring vetches, Italian rye grass and early turnips and rape, sown in spring, will afford a supply of good stuff all the summer, which will be desirable food for the lambs after weaning, the ewes either running on the grass or following and clearing up behind. When these crops are consumed the lambs must go to the market, and will be purchased by the light land farmer to make up his winter stock. There is no sort of difficulty in working sheep on strong land provided there is management, and with- out this success is out of the question anywhere. It is absurd to suppose that this country, at its present If it of increase, can ever supply its own population. It is probable that the present importations, enormous as they are, and rapidly as they have developed, will be exceeded, when new railways give increased faoi- i1 J 1 of transport, and improved systems of farming add to the breeding stock of our neighbours.

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