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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/487

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423
GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON QUADRUPEDS

It is sometimes a matter of considerable trouble to induce the calf—whose instinct only teaches him to suck, which he will do at anything and with anything—to acquire the knowledge of imbibition, and for the first few days it is often necessary to fill a bottle with milk, and, opening his mouth, pour the contents down his throat. The manner, however, by which he is finally educated into the mystery of suction, is by putting his allowance of milk into a large wooden bowl; the nurse then puts her hand into the milk, and, by bending her fingers upwards, makes a teat for the calf to grasp in his lips, when the vacuum created by the suction of the fingers causes the milk to rise along them into his mouth. In this manner, one by one, the whole family are fed three times a day, care being taken that new-born calves are not at first fed on milk from a cow who has calved some days.

As the Calf Progresses towards his Tenth Week, his diet requires to be increased in quantity and quality; for these objects his milk can be thicked with flour or meal, and small pieces of softened oil-cake are slipped into his mouth after sucking, in order that he may grow familiar with its taste, when it may be softened and scraped down into his milk-and-water. After a time, sliced turnips softened by steam are given to him in tolerable quantities; then succulent grasses, and finally, hay may be added to the other food. Some farmers, desirous of rendering their calves fat for the butcher in as short a time as possible, forget both the natural weakness of the digestive organs and the limited capacity of the stomach, and allow the animals either to suck ad libitum, or give them, if brought up by the pail or by hand, a larger quantity of milk than they can digest. The idea of overloadng their stomach never suggests itself to their minds. They suppose that the more food the young creature consumes, the sooner it will be fat, and they allow it no exercise whatever, for fear it should denude its very bones of their flesh. Under such circumstances the stomach frequently becomes deranged; its functions are no longer performed; the milk, subjected to the acid of the stomach, coagulates, and forms a hardened mass of curd, when the muscles become affected with spasms, and death frequently ensues.

Veal. Veal is, by many, considered both unwholesome and indigestible. The practice, now illegal, of bleeding calves before killing them, until they were actually in a state of disease, had probably some effect in producing a general belief in the unwholesomeness of veal. The flesh of the immature animal is less easily digested because its fibres offer greater resistance to the digestive agents. When its fibres are reduced to a fine state of division by the various processes of mastication, mincing, pounding and sieving, veal is easily digested. Weight for weight, it contains less nourishment than beef, in consequence of having in its composition a higher percentage of water, (78 in 100 parts as compared with 72 per cent. in beef), and a corresponding decrease in the proportion of proteids and fats,