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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/486

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As the calf, at least as far as it is identified with veal, is destined to die young—to be killed in comparative infancy—it may, at first sight, appear of little or no consequence to inquire to what particular variety or breed of the general stock his sire or dam may belong. The great art, however, in the modern science of stock-breeding has been to obtain an animal that shall not only have the utmost beauty of form of which the species is capable, but, at the same time, possess a constitution free from all taint, a frame that shall rapidly attain bulk and stature, and a disposition so kindly that every quantum of food it takes shall speedily, and to the fullest degree, be assimilated and converted into flesh. The breed, then, is of considerable consequence in determining, not only the quality of the meat to the consumer, but its commercial value to the breeder and butcher.

Under the System now adopted in the rearing of domestic cattle and stock in general, to gratify the arbitrary demands of luxury and fashion, we can have veal, like lamb, in the market at all seasons, but English veal is considered to be in season from February to September.

The Cow goes with Young for Nine Months, and the affection and solicitude she evinces for her offspring is more human in its tenderness and intensity than is displayed by any other animal; and her distress when she hears it lowing, and is not allowed to reach it with her distended udders, is often painful to witness; and when the calf has died, or been accidentally killed, her grief frequently makes her refuse to give down her milk. In a state of nature the cow, like the deer, hides her young in the tall ferns and brakes, and the most secret places; and only at stated times, twice or thrice a day, quits the herd, and, hastening to the secret cover, gives suck to her calf, and with the same circumspection returns to the community.

The Weaning of Calves is a process that requires a great amount of care and judgment, for though calves are in reality not weaned till between the eighth and the twelfth week, the process of rearing them by hand commences in fact from the birth, the calf never being allowed to suck its dam. As the rearing of calves for the market is a very important and lucrative business, the breeder generally arranges his stock so that ten or a dozen of his cows shall calve about the same time; and then, by setting aside a few, to find food for the entire family, gets the remainder of the herd with their full fountains of milk to carry on the operations of his dairy. Some people have an idea that skimmed milk, if given in sufficient quantity, is good enough for the weaning period of calf-feeding; but this is a very serious mistake, for the cream, of which it has been deprived, contains nearly all the oleaginous principles, and it is found that a calf reared on one part of new milk mixed with five of water, will thrive and look well, while another treated with unlimited skim milk, will be poor, thin, and miserable.