Open main menu

Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/479

This page has been validated.

or enveloped in corneous hoofs, and thereby cannot exercise any prehensile power.

According to the Design and End of Nature, mammiferous animals are adapted, when arrived at maturity, to subsist on various kinds of food—some to live wholly upon flesh, others upon grain, herbs or fruits; but in their infant state, milk constitutes the natural food of the whole. That this food may never fail them, it is ordained that the young should no sooner come into the world than the milk should flow in abundance into the organs with which the mother is supplied for the secretion of that nutritious fluid. By a wonderful instinct of Nature, the young animal, almost as soon as it has come into life, searches for the teat, and knows by the process of suction, to extract the fluid necessary to its existence. To man the lower animals are useful in various ways. Some of their bodies afford him food, their skin shoes, and their fleece clothes. Some of them unite with him in sharing the dangers of combat with an enemy, and others assist him in the chase, in exterminating wilder sorts, or banishing them from the haunts of civilization. Many indeed, are injurious to him; but the greater number, in some shape or other, he turns to his service. Of these, there is none more subservient to his purposes than the common ox, for there is scarcely a part of this creature that man has not been able to convert to some useful purpose. Of the horns he makes drinking vessels, knife-handles, combs and boxes; and when they are softened by means of boiling water, he fashions them into transparent plates for lanterns, etc. Glue and gelatine are made of cartilages, gristles, and the finer pieces of the parings and cuttings of hides. Their bone is a cheap substitute for ivory. The thinnest calf-skins are manufactured into vellum. Their blood is made the basis of Prussian blue, and saddlers use a fine sort of thread prepared from their sinews. Their hair is valuable in various manufactures; their suet, fat and tallow are moulded into candles; while the muscular tissues of the carcass constitute beef, and the milk and cream of the cow yield butter and cheese. Thus every part of this animal valuable to man, who has spared no pains to bring it to the highest state of perfection.


Cattle, like sheep, belong to the orders Ruminantia and to the same hollow-horned division. The entire order is classed according to the peculiarities of the horn, and includes hornless ruminants like camels and llamas. The giraffe constitutes a genus by himself, known as Camelopardida; deer shed their horns annually; antelopes, bush antelopes, oxen, sheep and goats are hollow-horned; hence cattle and sheep are zoologically not very remote from each other. Domestic European cattle form a distinct group among the Bovidae or oxen.

Oxen include:—