Rural Heritage Ox Paddock

Selecting Oxen
by Beverly Zimmer

The two questions most frequently asked about selecting oxen are:

Selecting a Breed

An ox may be defined as any breed of cattle trained to wear a yoke, obey commands, and work as a beast of burden. No one breed is best.

Consider the following points in making your choice:

Selecting a Calf

When you find calves you think will work for you, don't get in a hurry to buy them. In examining the calves, consider these questions:

The most important criteria in your oxen are: disposition, agility, size, scale, and color. As you look at potential calves, try to envision the ideal ox in your mind and relate that to the calves you see.

Select animals that will develop and grow similarly so that they will look and work alike as a mature team. It's a good idea, if they're available, to purchase three (3) calves with the hope that two (2) of them will closely match.

No one can guarantee that the calves you purchase will come together and work as you want them to, but these guidelines will help you in selecting ideal calves to train.


Beverly Zimmer is a previous editor of the Midwest Ox Drovers News, from which this page has been adapted with permission. For information on the Midwest Ox Drovers Association visit their website at or email Vicki Solomon, current editor.

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6 June 2011