Compiled by M.D. Wisdom, 1909
Oregon Commission of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition
The Livestock Industry in Oregon
by N.C. Maris, Associate Editor Rural Spirit.
Livestock production is one of the great industries of the State of Oregon.
A wise old Scotchman once said to his son: "If you would grow stock successfully, go where the grass grows green and the trees grow tall." That Scotchman was the father of the widely known Prof. W.L. Carlyle, whose opinions on livestock and agricultural matters pass at par throughout America. Professor Carlyle, as well as every other expert who has visited and studied conditions here, says they are as nearly ideal as any spot outside of the British Isles, where most of our great breeds of fine stock originated. In Western Oregon the climate and soil is very similar to that of Britain. Here the grass grows green almost the year around and the trees tower tall and conditions obtain that are conducive to the development of the highest type of animal life of all kinds with the exception of the fine wool sheep, it finding its ideal habitat in the higher, drier plains of that portion of the State lying east of the Cascade Mountains. In proof of the above assertion we need only to point to the fact that an Oregon herd contains most of the Jerseys that stood in the highest rank in the dairy contest at St. Louis, and that an Oregon herd of Shorthorns not only won first honors at that great show but repeated the feat at the Lewis and Clark world's fair the following year. Our sheep and goats do not fail to win when brought into competition with either eastern bred or imported stock, and their fleeces are unequaled for luster, length of staple and quality of fiber.
Great as are her interests in fruit, lumber, wheat and other things, Oregon is pre-eminently a livestock State, and although in the total value of this asset she leads all other states of the Northwest, yet this industry is very meagerly developed and splendid opportunities await the intelligent, persistent undertaker in any branch of this pursuit.
According to statistics prepared by the Department of Agriculture, Oregon's total livestock on January 1, 1909, was valued at $57,024,000, divided as follows:
These statistics are largely taken from county assessors' rolls and are not as nearly correct as might be desired, owing to the fact that some people suddenly become poor and forget a part of their stock and other assets when giving them in for the purpose of taxation.
The Oregon range-bred horse has long been noted for his wonderful constitution and endurance, as well as his toughness of character. But the Oregon cayuse is passing with the open range and will soon be a thing of the past. His successor, raised on the ranch, is more aristocratic, retaining his good qualities without the bad ones, and probably averages as high in quality and value as in any other State.
The building of railraods, the moving of our vast forests, the development of great irrigation schemes, the increase of commerce and growth of our cities, makes a demand for the draft horse that can hardly be over-supplied for years to come, and the prices he commands owing to these conditions makes his production a very profitable business.
The splendid qualities of the mule and his special adaptation to drawing the combined harvester and thresher and other such work are just being appreciated, and in his production an industry of importance is developing.
The above estimate of milch cows is generally conceded to be too low. The Dairy and Food Commissioner's estimate of the dairy products of the State in 1907 was $17,000,000. If this is correct there must have been more cows than our statistics show. Last year's dairy productions were considerably short of the previous year, however, as tempting offers from developing sections of neighboring states induced our dairymen to part with many carloads of cows. Our markets for dairy products are practicably insatiable, yet undeveloped and growing. A dairy cow famine is imminent. The high price of milk and butter fat has caused dairymen to neglect the raising of heifer calves, and those who will engage extensively and intelligently in the raising and supplying of good cows may demand almost any kind of prices for them the next few years. The coast counties, the great Willamette Valley and the irrigated sections of Eastern Oregon offer almost unequaled conditions for the dairy business.
Making Portland the leading meat market of the coast by the erection there of large plants by the leading packers of America is going to greatly improve the business of growing and feeding beef cattle, mutton, sheep and hogs by giving a more stable and discriminating market. Largely for lack of this Oregon has shipped from the East 85 per cent of the pork she consumes. This condition should not and will not long continue. Our farmers are fast finding out that our alfalfa, clover, rape, peas, barley and wheat coupled with this salubrious climate will produce the choicest of pork and at as great a profit as in the corn belt.
Oregon ranks sixth among the states of the Union as to the number and value of her sheep and first as to average weight of fleece, viz: 8 3/4 pounds. The average weight of fleece in the other leading sheep-growing states varies from 5 1/2 to 7 pounds. While the sheep industry on the range cannot be increased, it is not likely to diminish, as most of the range now used by the sheepmen is not land that can be devoted to agricultural purposes. The breeding of pure-bred bucks of the long and medium wool breeds in the Willamette Valley for supplying the range breeders presents almost unlimited opportunities. Conditions are ideal for the production of bucks that cannot be equaled in the Eastern states, and the rangemen having learned this stand ready to take all that can be produced.
In the production of mohair and the reduction of vast areas of brush land to cultivation, the Angora goat has become very profitable and popular, and there is much room for increasing this industry. In a recent address by John W. Fulton, National Secretary of the Angora Goat Association, he made the statement that Oregon not only produced 40 to 50 per cent of all the mohair produced in the United States, but that the quality of fleece is unequaledand that Texas alone ranks ahead of Oregon in number of goats.