County Down Livestock

The cattle being generally procured more for the dairy than for feeding, special attention has not been paid to the improvement of the breed: hence there is a mixture of every kind. The most common and highly esteemed is a cross between the old native Irish stock and the old Leicester long-horned, which are considered the best milchers. But the anxiety of the principal resident landowners to improve every branch of agriculture having led them to select their stock of cattle at great expense, the most celebrated English breeds are imported, and the advantages are already widely diffusing themselves. The North Devon, Durham, Hereford, Leicester and Ayrshire breeds have been successively tried, and various crosses produced; that between the Durham and Leicester appears best adapted to the soil and climate, and on some estates there is a good cross between the Ayrshire and North Devon; but the long-horned is still the favourite breed of the small farmer.

Great improvements have also been made in the breed of sheep, particularly around Hillsborough, Seaford, Downpatrick, Bangor, Cumber, Saintfield, and other places, where there are several fine flocks, mostly of the new Leicester breed. In other parts there is a good cross between the Leicester and old native sheep. The latter have undergone little or no change in the vicinity of the mountains; they are a small hardy race, with a long hairy fleece, black face and legs, some of them horned; they are prized for the delicacy and flavour of their mutton.

The breed of pigs has of late been very much improved: the Berkshire and Hampshire mostly prevail; but the most profitable is a cross between the Dutch and Russian breeds, which grows to a good size, easily fattens, and weighs well; the greater number are fattened and slaughtered, and the carcases are conveyed either to Belfast, or Newry for the supply of the provision merchants, where they are mostly cured for the English market. The breed of horses, in general, is very good. There are some remains of ancient woods near Downpatrick, Finnebrogue, Briansford, and Castlewellan; and the entire county is well wooded. The oak every where flourishes vigorously; in the parks and demesnes of the nobility and gentry there is a great quantity of full-grown timber, and extensive plantations are numerous in almost every part, particularly in the vale of the Lagan, from Belfast to Lisburn, and around Hollywood, and many of the hills have been successfully planted.

County Down | English Settlement of County Down | County Down Baronies and Towns | County Down Topography | County Down Soil | County Down Agriculture | County Down Livestock | County Down Geology | County Down Linen | County Down Fisheries | County Down Rivers | County Down Antiquities | County Down Monasteries and Castles | County Down Mineral Springs | County Down Wildlife

Search Topographical Dictionary of Ireland »