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American Cattle

Categories: History and Breeds

The breeds of cattle which stock the farms of the United States are all

derived from Europe, and, with few exceptions, from Great Britain. The

highest breeds at the present time are of comparatively recent origin,

since the great improvements in breeding were only commenced at about

the period of the American Revolution. The old importations made by the

early settlers, must consequently have been from comparatively inferior
r /> grades.

In some sections of the Union, and more particularly in New England, the

primitive stock is thought to have undergone considerable improvement;

whilst in many parts of the Middle, and especially of the Southern

States, a greater or less depreciation has ensued. The prevailing stock

in the Eastern States is believed to be derived from the North Devons,

most of the excellent marks and qualities of which they possess. For

this reason they are very highly esteemed, and have been frequently

called the American Devon. The most valuable working oxen are chiefly of

this breed, which also contributes so largely to the best displays of

beef found in the markets of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. By

means of this domestic stock, and the importations still extensively

made of selections from the short horns, and others of the finest

European breeds, the cattle, not only of New England, but of other

sections, are rapidly improving, especially in the Middle and Western


A brief sketch of the principal breeds of American cattle, as well as of

the grades or common stock of the country, will be of service to the

farmer in making an intelligent selection with reference to the special

object of pursuit--whether it be the dairy, the production of beef, or

the raising of cattle for work.

In selecting any breed, regard should be had to the circumstances of the

individual farmer and the object to be pursued. The cow most profitable

for the milk dairy, may be very unprofitable in the butter and cheese

dairy, as well as for the production of beef; while, for either of the

latter objects, the cow which gave the largest quantity of milk might be

very undesirable. A union and harmony of all good qualities must be

secured, so far as possible. The farmer wants a cow that will milk well

for some years; and then, when dry, fatten readily and sell to the

butcher for the highest price. These qualities, often supposed to be

utterly incompatible, will be found united in some breeds to a greater

extent than in others; while some peculiarities of form have been

found, by observation, to be better adapted to the production of milk

and beef than others.

It is proposed, therefore, to sketch the pure breeds now found in