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Rearing of Cattle, &c.

The system of rearing and fattening stock in this colony is simple and economical. Horses, in consequence of their rambling nature, are almost invariably kept in enclosures. In the districts immediately contiguous to Port Jackson, horned cattle are followed by a herdsman during the day, in order to prevent them from trespassing on the numerous uninclosed tracts of land that are in a state of tillage, and they are confined during the night in yards or paddocks. In the remoter districts, however, which are altogether devoid of cultivation, horned cattle are subjected to no such restraints, but are permitted to range about the country at all times. The herds too are generally larger; and although a herdsman is still required as well to prevent them from separating into straggling parties, as to protect them from depredation, the expence


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of keeping them in this manner is comparatively trifling, and the advantages of allowing them this uncontrouled liberty to range, very great; since they are found during the heat of summer to feed more in the night than in the day. This, therefore, is the system which the great stockholders almost invariably pursue. Few of them possess sufficient land for the support of their cattle; and as their estates too, however remote the situation in which they may have been selected, have for the most part become surrounded by small cultivators, who seldom or ever inclose their crops, they generally recede with their herds from the approach of colonization, and form new establishments, where the liability to trespass does not exist. They thus become the gradual explorers of the country, and it is to their efforts to avoid the contact of agriculture, that the discovery of the best districts yet known in the colony is ascribable.

The management of sheep is in some respects different. They are never permitted to roam during the night, on account of the native dog, which is a great enemy to them, and sometimes during the day, makes great ravages among them, even under the eye of the shepherd. In every part of the country, therefore, they are kept by night either in folds or yards. In the former case the shepherd sleeps in a small moveable


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box, which is shifted with the folds, and with his faithful dog, affords a sufficient protection for his flock, against the attempts of these midnight depredators. In the latter the paling of the yards is always made so high, that the native dog cannot surmount it; and the safety of the flock is still further ensured by the contiguity of the shepherd's house, and the numerous dogs with which he is always provided.

The natural grasses of the colony are sufficiently good and nutritious at all seasons of the year, for the support of every description of stock, where there is an adequate tract of country for them to range over. But in consequence of the complete occupation of the districts which are in the more immediate vicinity of Port Jackson, and from the settlers in general possessing more stock than their lands are capable of maintaining, the raising of artificial food for the winter months, has of late years become very general among such of them as are unwilling to send their flocks and herds into the uninhabited parts in the interior. This is a practice which must necessarily gain ground; since it has been observed, that the coldness of the climate keeps pace with the progress of agriculture. In the more contiguous and cultivated districts, the natural grass becomes consequently every year more affected by the influence


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of frost, and the necessity of raising some artificial substitute for the support of stock, during the suspension of vegetation, more pressing and incumbent. It is from this increase in the severity of the winters, that the custom of making hay has begun to be adopted; and should the future augmentation of cold be, as there is every reason to believe, proportionate to the past, this custom will, before the expiration of many years, become generally prevalent. It is indeed, rather a matter of surprise than otherwise, that so salutary a precaution has been so long in disuse; since such is the luxuriance of the natural grass during the summer, that it is the general practice after the seeds wither away, to set fire to it, and thus improvidently consume what, if mown and made into hay, would afford the farmer a sufficiency of nutritious food for his stock during the winter, and altogether supersede the subsequent necessity for his having recourse to artificial means of remedying so palpable a neglect of the bounteous gifts of nature.

This custom of setting fire to the grass, is most prevalent during the months of August and January, i.e. just before the commencement of spring and autumn, when vegetation is on the eve of starting from the slumber which it experiences alike during the extremes of the winter's


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cold as of the summer's heat. If a fall of rain happily succeed these fires, the country soon presents the appearance of a field of young wheat; and however repugnant this practice may appear to the English farmer, it is absolutely unavoidable in those districts which are not sufficiently stocked; since cattle of every description refuse to taste the grass the moment it becomes withered.

The artificial food principally cultivated in the colony are turnips, tares, and Cape barley; and for those settlers in particular who have flocks of breeding sheep, the cultivation of them is highly necessary, and contributes materially to the growth and strength of the lambs. On those also who keep dairies, this practice of raising artificial food, is equally incumbent; the natural grasses being quite insufficient to keep milch cows in good heart during the winter, when there is the greatest demand for butter. Good meat, too, is then only to be had with difficulty, and this difficulty is increasing every year. There cannot, therefore, be any doubt that it would answer the purposes even of the grazier to have recourse to artificial means of fattening his stock at that season; since it is then that he would be enabled to obtain the readiest and highest price for his fat cattle.

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