Of the quadrupedal animals, the flesh of those that feed upon herbs is the most wholesome and nutritious for human food. In the early ages, the ox was used as a religious sacrifice, and, in the eyes of the Egyptians was deemed so sacred as to be worthy of exaltation to represent Taurus, one of the twelve signs of the zodiac. To this day, the Hindoos venerate the cow, whose flesh is forbidden to be eaten, and whose fat, supposed to have been employed to grease the cartridges of the Indian army, was one of the proximate causes of the great Sepoy rebellion of 1857. There are no animals of greater use to man than the tribe to which the ox belongs. There is hardly a part of them that does not enter into some of the arts and purposes of civilized life. Of their horns are made combs, knife-handles, boxes, spoons, and drinking-cups. They are also made into transparent plates for lanterns; an invention ascribed, in England, to King Alfred. Glue is made from their gristles, cartilages, and portions of their hides. Their bones often form a substitute for ivory; their skins, when calves, are manufactured into vellum; their blood is the basis of Prussian blue; their sinews furnish fine and strong threads, used by saddlers; their hair enters into various manufactures; their tallow is made into candles; their flesh is eaten, and the utility of the milk and cream of the cow is well known.

Among the various breeds of the ox, upon which man has bestowed his highest powers of culture, there is now none takes a higher place than that known by the name of Short-Horns. From the earliest ages, Great Britain has been distinguished for the excellence of her native breeds of cattle, and there are none in England that have obtained greater celebrity than those which have this name, and which originated, about seventy years ago, on the banks of the Tees. Thence they have spread into the valleys of the Tweed; thence to the Lothians, in Scotland; and southward, into the fine pastures of England. They are now esteemed the most profitable breed of cattle, as there is no animal which attains sooner to maturity, and none that supplies meat of a superior quality. The value of some of the improved breeds is something enormous. At the sale of Mr. Charles Colling, a breeder in Yorkshire, in 1810, his bull "Comet" sold for 1,000 guineas. At the sale of Earl Spencer's herd in 1846, 104 cows, heifers, and calves, with nineteen bulls, fetched L8,468. 5s.; being an average of L68. 17s. apiece. The value of such animals is scarcely to be estimated by those who are unacquainted with the care with which they are tended, and with the anxious attention which is paid to the purity of their breed. A modern writer, well acquainted with this subject, says, "There are now, at least, five hundred herds, large and small, in this kingdom, and from six to seven thousand head registered every alternate year in the herd-book." The necessity for thus recording the breeds is greater than might, at first sight, be imagined, as it tends directly to preserve the character of the cattle, while it sometimes adds to the value and reputation of the animal thus entered. Besides, many of the Americans, and large purchasers for the foreign market, will not look at an animal without the breeder has taken care to qualify him for such reference. Of short-horned stock, there is annually sold from L40,000 to L50,000 worth by public auction, independent of the vast numbers disposed of by private contract. The brood is highly prized in Belgium, Prussia, France, Italy, and Russia; it is imported into most of the British colonies, and is greatly esteemed both for its meat and its dairy produce, wherever it is known. The quickness with which it takes on flesh, and the weight which it frequently makes, are well known; but we may mention that it is not uncommon to tee steers of from four to five years old realize a weight of from 800 to 1,000 lbs. Such animals command from the butcher from L30 to L40 per head, according to the quality; whilst others, of two or three years old, and, of course, of less Weight, bring as much as L20 apiece.

Long-Horns: This is the prevailing breed in our midland counties and in Ireland; but they are greatly inferior to the short-horns, and are fast being supplanted by them. Even where they have been cultivated with the nicest care and brought to the greatest perfection, they are inferior to the others, and must ultimately be driven from the farm.

The Alderney: Among the dairy breeds of England, the Alderney takes a prominent place, not on account of the quantity of milk which it yields, but on account of the excellent quality of the cream and butter which are produced from it. Its docility is marvellous, and in appearance it greatly resembles the Ayrshire breed of Scotland, the excellence of which is supposed to be, in some degree, derived from a mixture of the Alderney blood with that breed. The distinction between them, however, lies both in the quantity and quality of the milk which they severally produce; that of the Alderney being rich in quality, and that of the Ayrshire abundant in quantity. The merit of the former, however, ends with its milk, for as a grazer it is worthless.

Scottish Breeds: Of these the Kyloe, which belongs to the Highlands of Scotland; the Galloway, which has been called the Kyloe without horns; and the Ayrshire, are the breeds most celebrated. The first has kept his place, and on account of the compactness of his form, and the excellent quality of his flesh, he is a great favourite with butchers who have a select family trade. It is alike unsuitable for the dairy and the arable farm; but in its native Highlands it attains to great perfection, thriving upon the scanty and coarse herbage which it gathers on the sides of the mountains. The Galloway has a larger frame, and when fattened makes excellent beef. But it has given place to the short-horns in its native district, where turnip-husbandry is pursued with advantage. The Ayrshire is peculiarly adapted for the dairy, and for the abundance of its milk cannot be surpassed in its native district. In this it stands unrivalled, and there is no other breed capable of converting the produce of a poor soil into such fine butter and cheese. It is difficult to fatten, however, and its beef is of a coarse quality. We have chosen these as among the principal representative breeds of the ox species; but there are other breeds which, at all events, have a local if not a general celebrity.

The general Mode of Slaughtering Oxen in this country is by striking them a smart blow with a hammer or poleaxe on the head, a little above the eyes. By this means, when the blow is skilfully given, the beast is brought down at one blow, and, to prevent recovery, a cane is generally inserted, by which the spinal cord is perforated, which instantly deprives the ox of all sensation of pain. In Spain, and some other countries on the continent, it is also usual to deprive oxen of life by the operation of pithing or dividing the spinal cord in the neck, close to the back part of the head. This is, in effect, the same mode as is practised in the celebrated Spanish bull-fights by the matador, and it is instantaneous in depriving the animal of sensation, if the operator be skilful. We hope and believe that those men whose disagreeable duty it is to slaughter the "beasts of the field" to provide meat for mankind, inflict as little punishment and cause as little suffering as possible.

Colonial Sense recipes using ox (6)

Hearty soup

"a Scotch Recipe"

Cow-Heel may also be used

Basic meat

Basic cooking

"For Benevolent Purposes"

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