All farm animals were once called _cattle_; now this term applies only
to beef and dairy animals--neat cattle.
Our improved breeds are descended from the wild ox of Europe and Asia,
and have attained their size and usefulness by care, food, and
selection. The uses of cattle are so familiar that we need scarcely
mention them. Their flesh is a part of man's daily food; their milk,
cream, butter, and cheese are on most tables; their hides go to make
leather, and their hair for plaster; their hoofs are used for glue, and
their bones for fertilizers, ornaments, buttons, and many other
There are two main classes of cattle--beef breeds and dairy breeds. The
principal breeds of each class are as follows:
I. _Beef Breeds_
1. Aberdeen-Angus, bred in Scotland, and often called _doddies_.
2. Galloway, from Scotland.
3. Shorthorn, an English breed of cattle.
4. Hereford, also an English breed.
5. Sussex, from the county of Sussex, England.
II. _Dairy Breeds_
1. Jersey, from the Isle of Jersey.
2. Guernsey, from the Isle of Guernsey.
3. Ayrshire, from Scotland.
4. Holstein-Frisian, from Holland and Denmark.
5. Brown Swiss, from Switzerland.
Other breeds of cattle are Devon, Dutch Belted, Red-Polled, Kerry, and
In general structure there is a marked difference between the beef and
dairy breeds. This is shown in Figs. 248, 249. The beef cow is square,
full over the back and loins, and straight in the back. The hips are
covered evenly with flesh, the legs full and thick, the under line, or
stomach line, parallel to the back line, and the neck full and short.
The eye should be bright, the face short, the bones of fine texture, and
the skin soft and pliable.
The dairy cow is widely different from the beef cow. She shows a decided
wedge shape when you look at her from front, side, or rear. The back
line is crooked, the hip bones and tail bone are prominent, the thighs
thin and poorly fleshed; there is no breadth to the back, as in the beef
cow, and little flesh covers the shoulders; the neck is long and thin.
The udder of the dairy cow is most important. It should be full but not
fleshy, be well attached behind, and extend well forward. The larger the
udder the more milk will be given.
The skin of the dairy cow, like that of the beef breeds, should be soft
and pliable and the bones fine-textured.
=The Dairy Type.= Because of lack of flesh on the back, loins, and
thighs, the cow of the dairy type is not profitably raised for beef, nor
is the beef so good as that of the beef types. This is because in the
dairy-animal food goes to produce milk rather than beef. In the same way
the beef cow gives little milk, since her food goes rather to fat than
to milk. For the same reasons that you do not expect a plow horse to win
on the race track, you do not expect a cow of the beef type to win
premiums as a milker.
"Scrub" cattle are not profitable. They mature slowly and consequently
consume much food before they are able to give any return for it. Even
when fattened, the fat and lean portions are not evenly distributed,
and "choice cuts" are few and small.
By far the cheapest method of securing a healthy and profitable herd of
dairy or beef cattle is to save only the calves whose sires are
pure-bred animals and whose mothers are native cows. In this way farmers
of even little means can soon build up an excellent herd.
=Improving Cattle.= The fact that it is not possible for every farmer to
possess pure-bred cattle is no reason why he should not improve the
stock he has. He can do this by using pure-bred sires that possess the
qualities most to be desired. Scrub stock can be quickly improved by the
continuous use of good sires. It is never wise to use grade, or
cross-bred, sires, since the best qualities are not fixed in them.
Moreover, it is possible for every farmer to determine exactly the
producing-power of his dairy cows. When the cows are milked, the milk
should be weighed and a record kept. If this be done, it will be found
that some cows produce as much as five hundred, and some as much as ten
hundred, gallons a year, while others produce not more than two or three
hundred gallons. If a farmer kills or sells his poor cows and keeps his
best ones, he will soon have a herd of only heavy milkers. Ask your
father to try this plan. Read everything you can find about taking care
of cows and improving them, and then start a herd of your own.
=Conclusions.= (1) A cow with a tendency to get fat is not profitable
for the dairy. (2) A thin, open, angular cow will make expensive beef.
(3) "The sire is half the herd." This means that a good sire is
necessary to improve a herd of cattle. The improvement from scrubs
upward is as follows: the first generation is one-half pure; the second
is three-fourths pure; the third is seven-eighths pure; the fourth is
fifteen-sixteenths pure, etc. (4) By keeping a record of the quantity
and quality of milk each cow gives you can tell which are profitable to
raise from and which are not. (5) Good food, clean water, kindness, and
care are necessary to successful cattle-raising.
The ownership of a well-bred animal usually arouses so much pride in the
owner that the animal receives all the care that it merits. The watchful
care given to such an animal leads to more thought of the other animals
on the farm, and often brings about the upbuilding of an entire herd.