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Sunday, 9 February 2014



Cattle are thought to have descended from middle eastern aurochs, which were large ox-like creatures.

It is believed that almost all cattle is descended from only 80 aurochs tamed in northern Mesopotamia about 10,000 years ago.

The last auroch was a female that was killed by a poacher in 1627 on a reserve near Warsaw, Poland.

Cattle branding was practiced 4,000 years ago. Old tomb paintings show Egyptians branding their fat, spotted cattle.

The Vikings brought European cattle to America about the year 1000. Their colony disappeared, however, and their cattle disappeared with it.

Columbus next brought European cattle to Hispaniola (Haiti) in 1493.

Cortez took Spanish cattle to what is now Mexico. Because of the great length of their horns, these cattle were called longhorns.

The first dairy cows in America were brought to Jamestown, Virginia in 1611.

The first Devon cattle reached what is now the United State in 1623. The ship Charity brought a consignment of red cattle (one bull and three heifers) from Devonshire to Edward Winslow, the agent for Plymouth Colony. These red cattle of Devonshire, brought in by the Pilgrims, were probably the first pure-bred cattle to reach North America

Beginning in 1742 with a bull calf from the cow Silver and two cows, Pidgeon and Mottle, inherited from his father's estate, Benjamin Tomkins is credited with founding the Hereford breed. This was 18 years before Robert Bakewell began developing his theories of animal breeding.

The selective breeding of cattle began in England in about 1770, with pioneer work by Robert Bakewell, an English farmer who lived between 1725 and 1795. His method was to pick a bull of good beef quality and mate it to a cow of similar good qualities. By carrying this plan of mating through several generations of cattle, he developed fine beef-type animals that usually had young of the same characteristics. His methods, qualified by later scientific discoveries in genetics, are still used by cattle breeders.

The Jersey breed of cattle originated on the Island of Jersey,  which is located in the English channel. The Jersey is one of the oldest dairy breeds,  the result of selected matings of the large, brindle cattle of Normandy and the small black cattle of Brittany. A 1789 law prohibiting the importation of cattle to the Isle of Jersey is still in effect.  Jerseys are the only cattle on the island.

The Jersey breed was known in England as early as 1771 and was regarded very favourably because of its milk and butterfat production. The first importations of Jerseys into the United States were in 1815.

Texas pioneers from the United States raised the longhorns. Their herds grew very large, and, soon after Texas joined the Union in 1845, Texans began driving cattle eastward to New Orleans and northeastward into Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa. Still later they were driven to feed on the grasses of the northern Great Plains. Until the 1870s and the arrival of railroads in the West, the drives continued. The whole great ranching country of the West prospered with longhorn cattle. There the techniques of herding and branding were developed.


The world's cattle population doubled, 1960-80.

There are 1 billion cattle in the world — 200,000,000 of those cattle are in India, where the slaughter of cows is largely illegal.

There are over 9 million beef and dairy cattle in New Zealand.

The word "cattle" comes from the Latin word "caput" which means property or capital.

Cattle are the only mammals that pee backwards.

The crossbreed of bison and domestic cattle is called a "Beefalo."

The word "maverick" came into use after Samuel Maverick, a Texan refused to brand his cattle. Eventually any unbranded calf became known as a 'maverick.'

Cattle can produce up to 180 liters of saliva in one day.

Source Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc.

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