Cattle, a class of domestic animals. In its primary sense, horses and asses are included in the term, as well as oxen, cows, sheep, goats, and perhaps swine. In England, beasts of the ox species arc more precisely described as black cattle or neat cattle. In the United States, the term cattle is usually applied to horned animals alone. Like that of many other species of animals now domesticated, as the sheep, the dog, and our common barnyard poultry, the origin of the domestic ox cannot be traced distinctly to any type now existing in a state of nature. The distinctive characteristics of the common domestic cattle are smooth unwrinkled horns, growing sideways at their origin, and directed upward, or in some breeds downward and forward, with a semi-lunar curve. The forehead of the common ox is flat, longer than it is broad, and has the round horns placed at the two extremities of a projecting horizontal line, separating the front from the occiput; but the horns themselves differ so widely in the different breeds, which have been the result of thousands of years of domestication, that no specific character can be founded upon them.
In color, like all highly cultivated domestic animals, they run through all hues and shades, from the plain blacks, whites, browns, reds, duns, grays, and blues, to every variety of piebald, mottled, spotted, flecked, or brindled; the colors being in some degree distinctive of the various select breeds. Thus the Devonshires run to self-colored red and light tan or dun; the Durhams to dark red piebald, with the white portions sometimes flecked or sanded, though this is rather an Ayrshire mark; the Alderneys to light red or yellow, and white; the Ayrshires to roan and piebald; and the small Scottish kyloes, or mountain oxen, to self-colored blacks, reds, and brindles. In Calabria there is still a large breed of snow-white cattle, formerly in great request for sacrificial purposes, which has descended unchanged from classic ages; and every traveller in Italy knows the large, gentle, gray and mouse-colored oxen of the Campagna. In Hungary there is a remarkable breed of gray or dark blue cattle, which have wide-spreading horns and coarse flesh, but fatten easily.
In the East there exist many singular and distinct species, the most remarkable of which is perhaps the celebrated sacred or Brahman bull; a heavy, indolent, phlegmatic animal, with short reflected horns, large pendulous ears, and an enormous hum]) and dewlap of solid fatty matter. Its coat is smooth, and sleeker than even that of the common cattle, while its form approaches nearer to that of the bison. Besides this, they have the huge, morose, almost hairless buffalo, both wild and half domesticated, with its great, erect, crescent-shaped horns, of 18 inches girth at the root, and 4 or 5 feet measure round the exterior curve; the little, hump-backed zebu; the yak, or grunting ox of Thibet, with a tail like that of a horse; and probably many other varieties, yet imperfectly known and undescribed. - It was formerly supposed that domestic cattle were descended from the wild European bison, bos urus (see Aurochs); but Cuvier has shown this idea to be erroneous, by pointing out permanent characteristic distinctions in the osseous structure, particularly in the formation of the skull and insertion of the horns.
It appears that there has been generally overlooked by naturalists a race of perfectly wild cattle peculiar to the British isles, which, formerly known as the wild bull of the great Caledonian forest, seems to have ranged all the woody northern regions of the island. They were of medium size, compactly built, invariably of a dingy, cream-colored white, with jet-black horns and hoofs, and the upper half of the ears either black or dull red. They are represented as having formerly had manes; but that characteristic is lost. Within a few years three herds of these cattle were in existence: one in the chase of Chillingham castle, the property of the earl of Tankerville, in Northumberland; one in that of the duke of Hamilton, at Hamilton castle, in Scotland; and one at Drumlanrig, in Dumfriesshire. Lord Tankerville's herd were red-eared; those of the duke of Hamilton had the black ears which are considered characteristic of the pure Scottish race. Although kept in confinement within vast enclosed chases, these cattle were perfectly wild, tameless, and savage.
They would hold no connection with other cattle, more than the red deer will with the fallow; they would not brook the approach of man, and evinced their original wild nature by the pertinacity with which the cows concealed their calves in deep brakes of fern or underwood, and resisted any approach to their lair. The structural characteristics of these cattle differ in no respect from those of the domestic ox; their invariable self-color is a certain evidence of the purity and antiquity of their breed, as it is a strong proof that they are not the descendants of tame animals, relapsed into a savage state; since such, as is the case with the South American herds, long retain their variegated hues, the tokens of domestication and servitude. - Of the cattle of continental Europe, the Polish or Ukraine oxen are large and strong, and fatten readily, the flesh being succulent and well flavored. The cows are shy, not fit for the dairy; color light gray, seldom black or white; oxen docile at work. On the plains of Jutland, Holstein, and Schleswig there is a fine breed with small, crooked horns, supposed to be allied to the Friesland and Holderness breed; colors various, mouse or fawn interspersed with white being most common. Red cows of this breed are seldom seen.
The cows are good milkers in moderate pastures. The oxen fatten well when grazed or stall-fed at the proper age, being fine in horn and bone, wide in loin, but not as hardy and strong for labor as the Hungarian breed. Nearer the Alps the cattle are stronger and more active. The largest arc among the Swiss. The Fribourg race have very rich pastures in the vicinity of Gruyeres. The cows most prized are large and wide in the flank, strong in the horn, short and strong in bone; they show a prominence about the root of the tail which would be considered a blemish by short-horn breeders. Their milk is rich in pasture, or when stall-fed on clover or lucern; the oxen are good workers, but heavy and slow, and fatten well. In the Jura there is a small, active mountain breed, that keep well on little food; they are of a light red color; oxen active and strong for their size, drawing by the horns. They are not profitable for stall-feeding, but good for mountain cottagers, as they climb like goats, feeding on the patches of pasture.
The Norman breed give character to all the cattle in the north of France, except near the eastern frontier; they are light red, sometimes spotted with white; horns short, set well out, and turned up with a black tip; legs fine and slender; hips high; thighs thin; good milkers, with rich milk. They are usually fed on thin pastures, along roads and the balks which divide fields. In Normandy the pastures are better, and the cattle larger. The Alderneys or Jerseys, in France, are supposed to bo a smaller variety of the Norman, with shorter horns and more deer-like forms. This breed is very docile, having been for generations accustomed to be tethered in fields, along the roads, or in yards. They are found in gentlemen's parks and pleasure grounds in England. A large number have been brought to the United States, but they are not considered so profitable as some other breeds. The Italian breed is most remarkable for immense length of* horn. No pains is expended on this breed except in northern Italy, where the Parmesan cheese is made. The Italian cattle resemble the Swiss. - In England the breeding of cattle has been carried to the greatest perfection. Csesar states that the British in his time had great numbers of cattle, though of no great bulk or beauty.
The island being divided into many petty sovereignties, cattle were the safest kind of property, as they could be driven away from danger. When more peaceful times returned, cattle were neglected for other productions, their size and number diminished, and not until within the last 150 years was any considerable effort made to improve them. The breeds in England are as various as the districts they inhabit, or the fancies of the breeders. A curious classification by the horns has obtained, having been found useful. The long-horns, originally from Lancashire, were much improved by Mr. Bakewell of Leicestershire, and are now found in the midland counties. The short-horns first appeared in Lincolnshire and the northern counties, but are now found in most parts of the island. The middle-horns, a valuable and beautiful breed, came from the north of Devon, the east of Sussex, Herefordshire, and Gloucestershire. The crumpled horn is found in Alderney, on the south coast, and in almost every park in small numbers. The hornless or polled cattle were first derived from Galloway, and now prevail in Suffolk and Norfolk. Which is the original breed of all has been disputed.
It is held by some that the long-horns are of Irish extraction; that the short-horns were produced by the efforts of breeders; while the polled, though found in certain places from time immemorial, are supposed to be accidental; and that to the middle-horns must therefore he ascribed the honor of being the original breed. As the natives of Britain retired before invaders, they drove their cattle to the fastnesses of north Devon and Cornwall, the mountain regions of Wales, the wealds of Sussex; and there the cattle have been the same from that time until now, while on the eastern coast the cattle became a mongrel breed, conforming themselves to pasture and climate. Observation proves that the cattle in Devonshire. Sussex, Wales, and Scotland are essentially the same - middle-horned, not great milkers, active workers, easy to fatten; all showing traces of likeness to one breed, however changed by soil, climate, and time. - The earliest importation of cattle to America was made by Columbus in 1493; he brought a bull and several cows. Others were brought by succeeding Spanish settlers, of the Estremadura breed, and the vast pampas or plains of nearly the whole of Spanish America arc now covered with immense herds of cattle descended from these.
They arc of large size, long-legged, as various in color as Other breeds, and their distinguishing characteristic is their long and widely extended horns. Herds numbering many thousands roam at will in a wild state, under the care of a race of herdsmen called gaucbos. (See Gauchos.) Every year the calves are caught, branded with the marks of the respective owners of the herds, and turned loose again. The mode of capturing the cattle is by the lasso or the bolas, and when thus caught the wildest are soon reduced to submission. Those which are retained for dairy and other domestic purposes are kept in staked enclosures, capable of holding thousands of head, and called estancias. The lactiferous qualities of the cows of this breed are far below those of European and American domesticated cattle, but the milk is exceedingly rich, and particularly adapted to cheese making. Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, and the Argentine Republic are the great cattle-raising countries of South America. In Ecuador, Chili, Peru, and Bolivia the cattle are domesticated. For many years cattle raising was almost the only pursuit of Californians, and it is still the calling of a large number of the people.
In California, and also in Texas, the cattle of 20 or 50 owners roam over the pastures of all, every animal bearing on the left hip the brand, or "iron" as it is termed, of its owner; and the keepers or herders of these cattle are as expert as the South Americans with the lasso. (See Bolas, and Lasso.) - The Portuguese took cattle to Newfoundland about 1553, but no trace of them now exists. Norman cattle were brought to Canada about 1600. In 1611 Sir Thomas Gates brought from Devonshire and Hertfordshire 100 head to Jamestown. In 1G24 Francis Winslow brought three heifers and a bull to Massachusetts. At this period no fixed breeds, as such, were known in England. In the United States there is now a class of native cattle, arising from a mixture of various breeds imported by the early settlers, who, for the want of barns, and from habits established in a milder climate, allowed their cattle to suffer severely; many perished, the survivors degenerating in size and quality. As agriculture advanced and settlers became more prosperous, the cattle were improved; and there are to be found in different districts native cattle varying with the richness of soil, salubrity of climate, and care of breeders.
The English breeds, gaining celebrity, attracted the attention of enterprising breeders here, who commenced importing the Durhams, Devons, Ayr-shires, Herefords, and Alderneys, with a few Galloways and some long-horns, and occasionally a few Scotch cattle. These cattle, imported at great cost, and not inured to our climate and rough treatment, prospered only in the best situations, and for a long period attracted little attention from ordinary farmers. At present there are many places where the pure breeds are propagated, each having its advocates; while farmers who make money from milk, butter, and cheese, stoutly maintain the value of native cattle and their crosses with the best breeds. There are, however, few neighborhoods where traces of imported blood may not be found; indeed, the high prices for cattle and their products which have prevailed since 1850 have done much to stimulate breeders to improvement. The short-horn or Durham is becoming the favorite breed in the West. The model of this breed forms a solid rectangle, or parallelopiped, when the head and legs are removed, leaving no unfilled space and much solid meat with little offal.
Of this breed "Allen's American Short-Horn Herd Book" says: "They are, as a race, good milkers, remarkable in the richness of its quality, and the quantity is frequently surprising. For beef, they are unrivalled. Their capacity to accumulate flesh is enormous, and they feed with a kindliness and thrift never witnessed in our native breeds. In milk, instances have been frequent in which they have given 24 to 36 quarts a day, on grass pasture only, for weeks together; yielding 10 to 15 lbs. of butter per week. Cows have slaughtered 1,200 to 1,500 lbs. neat weight, with extraordinary proof; and bullocks upward of 2,500 lbs." The short-horn crosses with native stock are much prized, forming good milkers, easy keepers, and profitable animals for beef, and in the hands of ordinary farmers prove better than the pure breed of short-horns. About 1835 some Ayrshires were imported, and this breed has ever since borne in the United States a high character for milk, yoke, and shambles. The Hereford breed does not seem to find general favor. A large herd of Alder-neys, of the most symmetrical proportions for that breed, was imported some years since, and seem admirably adapted to light thin pastures. Though their milk is very rich, the quantity is small.
They are poor for beef, and not famous as workers; some breeders in the eastern states, however, believe them to be very profitable for butter and cheese. The long-horns have been sparingly imported, and do not find favor. The Sussex are better liked, though few have been introduced, while their supposed congeners, the Devons, are held by many intelligent men to be superior to the Durhams for all the southern and most of the older states. Being an original breed, and without cross or admixture of blood, they have sustained a superior capability of improvement among the best breeders wherever they have been bred with care. The hide is soft and mellow, indicating an aptitude to fatten, the bones small, and in color, grace, and elegance of carriage, they possess a superiority over all other British cattle. The little Kerry cow of Ireland, termed the "poor man's cow," has been recommended for poorer lands in mountainous regions, but as yet no steps have been taken to introduce her there. - Cattle have many complaints, yet generally they are exempt from great mortality.
Sometimes, however, an epidemic prevails widely among them for a time, carrying off great numbers. (See Murrain, and Pleuro-pneumonia.) Occasionally the "milk sickness" appears in some districts W. of the Alleghanies, when the animal sickens and dies, giving the peculiar disease to all who partake of her milk or flesh. It is supposed to originate from the rhus toxicodendron or poison ivy. The remedy is feeding large quantities of Indian corn. The horn distemper and hoof ail sometimes prevail extensively, and about cities where the cattle are closely confined and badly fed, they become ulcerated and otherwise diseased. No class of animals are so free from maladies as neat cattle when well treated. Good pasturage, good hay, grain, roots, and water, and airy stables, with sufficient exercise, are necessary to maintain good health in cattle or to improve their condition. Variety of food is essential, and the feeding of roots in winter is particularly necessary. The practice of soiling in summer has found favor with those who have fairly tried it.
The cattle are kept in cool, clean stables, and green rye, oats, corn sown broadcast, lucern, clover, and sorghum are cut and carried to them. (See Calf, and Ox.)
Long-Horned Brazilian Ox.
Short-Horn Durham Bull.
Dolly Ayrshire Cow.