'Rural Economy of Norfolk' volume 2 page 136.) Marshall relates (3/86. 'Youatt on Sheep' page 312. On same subject, see excellent remarks in 'Gardener's Chronicle' 1858 page 868. For experiments in crossing Cheviot sheep with Leicesters see Youatt page 325.) that a flock of heavy Lincolnshire and light Norfolk sheep which had been bred together in a large sheep-walk, part of which was low, rich, and moist, and another part high and dry, with benty grass, when turned out, regularly separated from each other; the heavy sheep drawing off to the rich soil, and the lighter sheep to their own soil; so that "whilst there was plenty of grass the two breeds kept themselves as distinct as rooks and pigeons." Numerous sheep from various parts of the world have been brought during a long course of years to the Zoological Gardens of London; but as Youatt, who attended the animals as a veterinary surgeon, remarks, "few or none die of the rot, but they are phthisical; not one of them from a torrid climate lasts out the second year, and when they die their lungs are tuberculated." (3/87. 'Youatt on Sheep' note page 491.) There is very good evidence that English breeds of sheep will not succeed in France. (3/88. M. Malingie-Nouel 'Journal R. Agricult. Soc.' volume 14 1853 page 214 translated and therefore approved by a great authority, Mr. Pusey.) Even in certain parts of England it has been found impossible to keep certain breeds of sheep; thus on a farm on the banks of the Ouse, the Leicester sheep were so rapidly destroyed by pleuritis (3/89. 'The Veterinary' volume 10 page 217.) that the owner could not keep them; the coarser-skinned sheep never being affected.
The period of gestation was formerly thought to be of so unalterable a character, that a supposed difference of this kind between the wolf and the dog was esteemed a sure sign of specific distinction; but we have seen that the period is shorter in the improved breeds of the pig, and in the larger breeds of the ox, than in other breeds of these two animals. And now we know, on the excellent authority of Hermann von Nathusius (3/90. A translation of his paper is given in 'Bull. Soc. Imp. d'Acclimat.' tome 9 1862 page 723.), that Merino and Southdown sheep, when both have long been kept under exactly the same conditions, differ in their average period of gestation, as is seen in the following Table
Merinos 150.3 days. Southdowns 144.2 " Half-bred Merinos and Southdowns 146.3 " 3/4 blood of Southdown 145.5 " 7/8 blood of Southdown 144.2 "
In this graduated difference in cross-bred animals having different proportions of Southdown blood, we see how strictly the two periods of gestation have been transmitted. Nathusius remarks that, as Southdowns grow with remarkable rapidity after birth, it is not surprising that their foetal development should have been shortened. It is of course possible that the difference in these two breeds may be due to their descent from distinct parent-species; but as the early maturity of the Southdowns has long been carefully attended to by breeders, the difference is more probably the result of such attention. Lastly, the fecundity of the several breeds differs much; some generally producing twins or even triplets at a birth, of which fact the curious Shangai sheep (with their truncated and rudimentary ears, and great Roman noses), lately exhibited in the Zoological Gardens, offer a remarkable instance.
Sheep are perhaps more readily affected by the direct action of the conditions of life to which they have been exposed than almost any other domestic animal. According to Pallas, and more recently according to Erman, the fat-tailed Kirghisian sheep, when bred for a few generations in Russia, degenerate, and the mass of fat dwindles away, "the scanty and bitter herbage of the steppes seems so essential to their development." Pallas makes an analogous statement with respect to one of the Crimean breeds. Burnes states that the Karakool breed, which produces a fine, curled, black, and valuable fleece, when removed from its own canton near Bokhara to Persia or to other quarters, loses its peculiar fleece.