(29) Berriarah, sheep, mode of fattening them [[159-163]]
[] The berriarah, or gurrearah, devotes
to tending sheep and goats; and, in most situations beyond the
[] obtains a place among the servants attendant upon the out-door
concerns of a family.
"The most approved mode of fatting sheep is to have about a dozen on full feed, allowing as much gram as they can eat; which is about two pounds daily for each. Another dozen should be upon half feed, having an allowance of very fine chaff to complete their diet; or perhaps some cut grass, such as is brought in for horses. All these twenty-four sheep should be confined in an area enclosed either by mud walls, or by railings of a suitable height; taking care to allow them access to sweet water, and to salt, of which a small quantity should be provided in a flat vessel.
"Thus they will fatten admirably in the course of six or seven months; their flesh becoming fine grained, juicy, and high flavoured. Besides these, about as many more, kept on a small allowance of gram, should be suffered to graze, in company with half a dozen milch goats and their kids, under charge of the berriarah, in some place remote from any camp or town, so as to insure their feeding clean; for all sheep, especially those of India, are apt to feed on any excrements which they find in their way."
[] Within the last twenty years, great improvements have taken place, not only in rearing sheep for domestic expenditure, but also for the public markets, all over the country, wherever there are a number of respectable Europeans at one station. The great evil now is the over-feeding [of] butcher's meat by private families, whence it is often too fat and bilious for a warm climate.
The dress of the berriarah is usually similar to that of the cooly, with the addition of a substantial blanket, on account of the oppressive heats at one season, the heavy rains at another, and the sharp cold during three months. This blanket is generally black, the ordinary colour of the sheep. In the hot season, it serves to repel the heat; during the rains, to keep the berriarah dry; and in the winter, to keep him warm.
As any cross folds or pleats would rather retain, than cast off, the rain, these people have an effectual mode of managing the blanket; tying it together very regularly, after puckering the longest side, and placing that part over their heads. Whatever moisture may lodge within the short pleats above the ligature, cannot sink downwards, if it be properly made; while all the pleats below it, being in a perpendicular direction, serve as channels, to carry the water downwards. The blanket, indeed, becomes a bell-tent, of which the inhabitant is himself the pole.
The wages of the shepherd are usually from three and a half to four rupees monthly; but some gentlemen regulate them by the number of sheep maintained. This by no means answers their expectations; for if the number be great, one or two deficiencies, imputed to the wolves, are rarely noticed; arid if the flock be small, a shepherd is tempted to take a fat sheep to his own use. No sheep can be fatted, taking all things into consideration, under four rupees, equal to about ten shillings, including the original [] price; which has risen of late years to about a rupee per head, for such as have six teeth. All below that age are generally rejected, because their food increases their growth rather than their flesh; which is seldom of a good colour, but retains a certain light hue, like very young beef, after the second year.
The wool of the Bengal sheep is coarse and lank, more resembling dog's hair than a fleece, and by no means valuable as an article of commerce. The natives manufacture it into puttoos, a very heavy close kind of felt, which stands proof against the severest weather, and may be made in any form. Their usual shape is nearly conical, resembling a bell-tent, with a rudely worked border of some colour strongly contrasting with the body of the cloak. Thus, a black puttoo would have a white pattern; and a white puttoo, a black. This extremely simple manufacture is performed by means of a carding machine that entangles the wool, which is previously mixed in a very strong lather of soap.
"The average price of a sheep fit for fatting," says Captain
"is about a rupee.; but that price has existed only for about twenty
Before that date, the common value of a coarge (or score) was
six to eight rupees; and at an early date, a sirkar to a
for European recruits, has bought several coarges for their
at three, and three and a half, rupees. Thus six sheep were purchased
a rupee, which in British currency would be five-pence each. The sheep
were certainly not fat; being driven into the camp from the flocks
in the adjacent plains, and in general, taken without much selection."