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The the article “A few minutes with” Tom Jenkins referred to his oxens as bulls, but in the pictures they look like steers. Is it common in that part of the country to refer to oxens as bulls, not trying to be picky but just wondering. One more question on the oxen topic, in the articles that I have read in RH they all talk about using steers, why don’t more drovers use cow instead of always steers? In my opinion using cows as oxen would be the same as using mares. I know that i have seen some old homesteading picture from Nebraska that some of them homesteader did use their cows in their oxen teams.

Klaus Karbaumer says 2018-04-02 08:15:18 (CST)

I didn't get mine yet, but with the return of winter (over an inch of snow yesterday and morning temperatures in the low 20s today) I'd really like to wait out this weather readin the RH magazine!

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Uncle Joe says 2018-04-04 06:13:42 (CST)

From the author, Rob Collins: Great questions: It's pretty common, particularly for New Englanders, to refer to a team of oxen as "bulls," even though they are definitely castrated. Teamsters would be taking their life in their hands to yoke up mature, intact bulls from any of the American dairy breeds, although internationally it's common for bulls to be worked (the animals are much smaller and generally haven't been selectively bred).

As to the second question, cows can, and definitely were, worked like steers in a yoke, sometimes alongside a steer or even with equines at times. A few teamsters still prefer to work heifers and cows, although it's not too common. The analogy to mares is sound, but horses haven't been selected for milk production for generations like dairy cows have (most oxen are from the dairy breeds, as they have been selected for calmness and less girth compared to beef breeds), so a cow puts a great deal of energy into making milk, probably moreso than a mare does. A cow also carries an udder much closer to the ground / work. Neither would prohibit a cow from being a fine work animal, just something to think about.

I hope these answers help!



1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2018-04-04 08:48:32 (CST)

We had this discussion before and I like the answer Mr. Collins gives. He says that cows can be worked "like steers", which means in the same manner. He doesn't say "as" steers. In my understanding of English that would make steers out of the cows, and that's not possible. Maybe I am a bit too punctilious!
When I grew up in Bavaria there still were quite a number of small farms that worked with teams of oxen, oxen and cows or even oxen and horses in mixed teams, single oxen or single cows. By the early sixties all but a very few of them were left and the countryside was dominated by tractors. A few decades later with the vanished draft animals small farms had ceased to operate, their land largely leased to bigger operations (even though the latter ones still would be considered smallish by US standards). Along with this development came the widespread disappearance of mutual help. One could have thought the opposite should have happened since with tractors farmers had more time left after the work ws done more quickly.

1 year ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

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