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Driving And Slaughtering

Category: Diseases and their Remedies

It is necessary that cattle which have been disposed of to the dealer or
butcher, or which are intended to be driven to market, should undergo a
preparation for the journey. If they were immediately put to the road to
travel, from feeding on grass or turnips, when their bowels are full of
undigested vegetable matter, a scouring might ensue which would render
them unfit to pursue their journey; and this complaint is the more
likely to be brought on from the strong propensity which cattle have to
take violent exercise upon feeling themselves at liberty after a long
confinement. They in fact, become light-headed whenever they leave the
barn or enclosure, so much so that they actually "frisk and race and
leap," and their antics would be highly amusing, were it not for the
apprehension that they may hurt themselves against some opposing object,
as they seem to regard nothing before them.

On being let out for the first time, cattle should be put for awhile
into a larger court, or on a road well fenced with enclosures, and
guarded by men, to romp about. Two or three such allowances of liberty
will render them quiet; and, in the mean time, to lighten their weight
of carcass, they should have hay for a large proportion of their food.
These precautions are absolutely necessary for cattle which have been
confined in barns; otherwise, accidents may befall them on the road,
where they will at once break loose. Even at home serious accidents
sometimes overtake them, such as the breaking down of a horn, casting
off a hoof, spraining a tendon, bruising ribs, and heating the whole
body violently; and, of course, when any such ill luck befalls, the
animal affected must be left behind, and become a drawback upon the
value of the rest, unless kept for some time longer.

Having the cattle prepared for travel, the drover takes the road very
slowly for the first two days, not exceeding seven or eight miles a day.
At night, in winter, they should be put into an open court, and supplied
with hay, water, and a very few turnips; for, if roots are suddenly
withdrawn from them,--since it is taken for granted that these have
formed a staple portion of their food,--their bellies will become
shrunken up into smaller dimensions--a state very much against favorable
appearance in market. After the first two days they may proceed faster,
say twelve or thirteen miles a day, if very fat; and fifteen, if
moderately so. When the journey is long and the beasts get faint from
travel, they should have corn to support them. In frosty weather, when
the roads become very hard, they are apt to become shoulder-shaken, an
effect of founder; and if sleet falls during the day, and becomes frozen
upon them at night, they may become so chilled as to refuse food, and
shrink rapidly away. Cattle should, if possible, arrive the day before
in the neighborhood of a distant market, and be supplied with a good
feed of roots and hay, or grass, to make them look fresh and fill them
up again; but if the market is at but short distance, they can travel to
it early in the morning.

In driving cattle the drover should have no dog, which will only annoy
them. He should walk either before or behind, as he sees them disposed
to proceed too fast or to loiter upon the road; and in passing
carriages, the leading ox, after a little experience, will make way for
the rest to follow. On putting oxen on a ferry-boat the shipping of the
first one only is attended with much trouble. A man on each side should
take hold of a horn, or of a halter made of any piece of rope, should
the beast be hornless, and two other men, one on each side, should push
him up behind with a piece of rope held between them as a breeching, and
conduct him along the plank into the boat; if it have low gunwales, a
man will be required to remain beside him until one or two more of the
cattle follow their companion, which they will most readily do. From
neglecting this precaution in small ferry-boats, the first beast
sometimes leaps into the water, when it becomes a difficult task to
prevent some of the rest doing the same thing.

Whatever time a lot of cattle may take to go to a market, they should
never be overdriven. There is great difference of management in this
respect among drovers. Some like to proceed upon the road quietly,
slowly, but surely, and to reach the market in a placid, cool state.
Others, again, drive smartly along for some distance, and then rest to
cool awhile, when the beasts will probably get chilled and have a
staring coat when they reach their destination; while others like to
enter the market with their beasts in an excited state, imagining that
they then look gay; but distended nostrils, loose bowels, and reeking
bodies are no recommendations to a purchaser. Good judges are shy of
purchasing cattle in a heated state, because they do not know how long
they may have been in it; and to cover any risk, will give at least five
dollars a head below what they would have offered for them in a cool
state. Some drovers have a habit of thumping at the hindmost beast of
the lot with a stick while on the road. This is a censurable practice,
as the flesh, where it is thumped, will bear a red mark after the
animal has been slaughtered,--the mark receiving the appropriate name of
blood-burn--and the flesh thus affected will not take on salt, and is
apt to putrefy. A touch up on the shank, or any tendonous part, when
correction is necessary, is all that is required; but the voice, in most
cases, will answer as well. The flesh of overdriven cattle, when
slaughtered, never becomes properly firm, and their tallow has a soft,
melted appearance.

A few large oxen in one lot look best in a market on a position rather
above the eye of a spectator. When a large lot is nearly alike in size
and appearance, they look best and most level on a flat piece of ground.
Very large fat oxen never look better than on ground on the same level
with the spectator. An ox, to look well, should hold his head on a line
with the body, with lively ears, clear eye, dewy nose, a well-licked
hide, and should stand firmly on the ground on all his feet. These are
all symptoms of high health and good condition. Whenever an ox shifts
his standing from one foot to another, he is foot-sore, and has been
driven far. Whenever his head hangs down and his eyes water, he feels
ill at ease inwardly. When his coat stares, he has been overheated some
time, and has got a subsequent chill. All these latter symptoms will
be much aggravated in cattle that have been fed in a barn.

Cattle are made to fast before being slaughtered. The time they should
stand depends upon their state on their arrival at the shambles. If they
have been driven a considerable distance in a proper manner, the bowels
will be in a tolerably empty state, so that twelve hours may suffice;
but if they are full and just off their food, twenty-four hours will be
required. Beasts that have been overdriven, or much struck with sticks,
or in any degree infuriated, should not be immediately slaughtered, but
allowed to stand on dry food, such as hay, until the symptoms disappear.
These precautions are absolutely necessary that the meat may be
preserved in the best state.

The mode of slaughtering cattle varies in different countries. In the
great slaughter-houses at Montmartre, in Paris, they are slaughtered by
bisecting the spinal cord of the cervical vertebrae; and this is
accomplished by the driving of a sharp-pointed chisel between the second
and third vertebrae, with a smart stroke of a mallet, while the animal is
standing, when it drops, and death or insensibility instantly ensues,
and the blood is let out immediately by opening the blood-vessels of the
neck. The plan adopted in England is, first to bring the ox down on his
knees, and place his under-jaw upon the ground by means of ropes
fastened to his head and passed through an iron ring in the floor of the
slaughterhouse. He is then stunned with a few blows from an iron axe
made for the purpose, on the forehead, the bone of which is usually
driven into the brain. The animal then falls upon his side, and the
blood is let out by the neck. Of the two modes, the French is apparently
the less cruel, for some oxen require many blows to make them fall. Some
butchers, however, allege that the separation of the spinal cord, by
producing a general nervous convulsion throughout the body, prevents the
blood from flowing as rapidly and entirely out of it as when the ox is
stunned in the forehead. The skin is then taken off to the knees, when
the legs are disjointed, and also off the head. The carcass is then
hung up by the tendons of the hough on a stretcher, by a block and
tackle, worked by a small winch, which retains in place what rope it
winds up by means of a wheel and ratchet.

After the carcass has hung for twenty-four hours, it should be cut down
by the back-bone, or chine, into two sides. This is done either with
the saw, or chopper; the saw making the neatest job in the hands of an
inexperienced butcher, though it is the most laborious; and with the
chopper is the quickest, but by no means the neatest plan, especially in
the hands of a careless workman. In London, the chine is equally divided
between both sides; while in Scotland, one side of a carcass of beef has
a great deal more bone than the other, all the spinous processes of the
vertebrae being left upon it. The bony is called the lying side of the
meat. In London, the divided processes in the fore-quarters are broken
in the middle when warm, and chopped back with the flat side of the
chopper, which has the effect of thickening the fore and middle ribs
considerably when cut up. The London butcher also cuts the joints above
the hind knee, and, by making some incisions with a sharp knife, cuts
the tendons there, and drops the flesh of the hind-quarter on the flank
and loins, which causes it to cut up thicker than in the Scotch mode. In
opening the hind-quarter he also cuts the aitch bone, or pelvis through
the centre, which makes the rump look better. Some butchers in the north
of England score the fat of the closing of the hind-quarter, which has
the effect of making that part of both heifer and ox look like the udder
of an old cow. There is far too much of this scoring practised in
Scotland, which prevents the pieces from retaining--which they should,
as nearly as possible--their natural appearance.

In cutting up a carcass of beef the London butcher displays great
expertness; he not only discriminates between the qualities of its
different parts, but can cut out any piece to gratify the taste of his
customers. In this way he makes the best use of the carcass and realizes
the largest value for it, while he gratifies the taste of every grade of
customers. A figure of the Scotch and English modes of cutting up a
carcass of beef will at once show the difference; and upon being
informed where the valuable pieces lie, an opinion can be formed as to
whether the oxen the farmer is breeding or feeding possess the
properties which will enable him to demand the highest price for them.

The sirloin is the principal roasting-piece, making a very handsome
dish, and is a universal favorite. It consists of two portions, the
Scotch and English sides; the former is above the lumbar bones, and is
somewhat hard in ill-fed cattle; the latter consists of the muscles
under these bones, which are generally covered with fine fat, and are
exceedingly tender. The better the beast is fed, the larger is the under
muscle, better covered with fat, and more tender to eat. The hook-bone
and the buttock are cut up for steaks, beefsteak pie, or minced
collops, and both these, together with the sirloin, bring the highest
price. The large round and the small round are both well known as
excellent pieces for salting and boiling, and are eaten cold with great
relish. The hough is peculiarly suited for boiling down for soup, having
a large proportion of gelatinous matter. Brown soup is the principal
dish made of the hough, but its decoction forms an excellent stock for
various dishes, and will keep in a state of jelly for a considerable
time. The thick and the thin flank are both admirable pieces for salting
and boiling. The tail, insignificant as it may seem, makes a soup of a
very fine flavor. Hotel-keepers have a trick of seasoning brown soup or
rather beef-tea, with a few joints of tail, and passing it off for
genuine ox-tail soup. These are all the pieces which constitute the
hind-quarter; and it will be seen that they are valuable both for
roasting and boiling, not containing a single coarse piece.

In the fore-quarter, is the spare rib, the six ribs of the back end of
which make an excellent roast, and when taken from the side opposite to
the lying one, being free of the bones of the spine, it makes a large
one; and it also makes excellent beefsteaks and beefsteak pie. The two
runners and the nineholes make salting and boiling pieces; but, of
these, the nineholes is much the best, as it consists of layers of fat
and lean without any bone; whereas the fore parts of the runners have a
piece of shoulder-blade in them, and every piece connected with that
bone is more or less coarse-grained. The brisket eats very well boiled
fresh in broth, and may be cooked and eaten with boiled greens or
carrots. The shoulder-lyar is a coarse piece, and fit only for boiling
fresh to make into broth or beef-tea. The nap, or shin, is analogous to
the hough of the hind-leg, but not so rich and fine, there being much
less gelatinous matter in it. The neck makes good broth; and the
sticking-piece is a great favorite with some epicures, on account of the
pieces of rich fat in it. It makes an excellent stew, as also sweet
barley-broth, and the meat eats well when boiled in it.

These are all the pieces of the fore-quarter; and it will be seen that
they consist chiefly of boiling-pieces, and some of them none of the
finest--the roasting-piece being confined to the six ribs of the spare
rib, and the finest boiling-piece, corned, only to be found in the

The loin is the principal roasting-piece; the rump is the favorite
steak-piece; the aitch-bone, the favorite stew; the buttock, the thick
flank, and the thin flank are all excellent boiling-pieces when corned;
the hock and the shin make soup and afford stock for the various
requirements of the culinary art; and the tail furnishes ox-tail soup--a
favorite English luncheon. These are all the pieces of the hind-quarter,
and they are valuable of their respective kinds.

In the fore-quarter, the fore-rib, middle-rib, and chuckle-rib are all
roasting-pieces, not alike good; but in removing the part of the
shoulder-blade in the middle-rib, the spare-ribs below make a good
broil or roast; the neck makes soup, being used fresh, boiled; the back
end of the brisket is boiled, corned, or stewed; the leg-of-mutton piece
is coarse, but is as frequently stewed as boiled; the shin is put to the
same use as the shin and hock of the hind-quarter.

On comparing the two modes of cutting-up, it will be observed that in
the English there are more roasting-pieces than in the Scotch, a large
proportion of the fore-quarter being used in that way. The plan, too, of
cutting the loin between the rump and aitch-bone in the hind-quarter,
lays open the steak-pieces to better advantage than in the Scotch
bullock. Extending the comparison from one part of the carcass to the
other, in both methods, it will be seen that the most valuable
pieces--the roasting--occupy its upper, and the less valuable--the
boiling--its lower part. Every beast, therefore, that lays on beef more
upon the upper part of its body is more valuable than one that lays the
same quantity of flesh on its lower parts.

It is deemed unnecessary to enter into details as to the modes of
cutting-up most in vogue in this country, as there is a needlessly great
want of uniformity.

Of the qualities of beef obtained from the different breeds of cattle in
England, there is no better meat than from the West Highlanders for
fineness of grain and cutting up into convenient pieces for family use.
The Galloways and Angus, when fattened in English pastures, are great
favorites in the London market. The Short Horns afford excellent steaks,
being thick of flesh, and the slice deep, large and juicy, and their
covered flanks and nineholes are always thick, juicy, and well-mixed.
The Herefords are somewhat similar to the Short Horns, and the Devons,
may, perhaps, be classed among the Galloways and Angus, while the Welsh
cannot be compared to the West Highlanders. Taking, then, the breeds of
Scotland as suppliers of good beef, they seem to be more valuable for
the table than those of England.

There are, perhaps, not sufficient data in existence to determine the
true proportion of offal of all kinds to the beef of any given fat ox;
but approximations have been made, which may serve the purpose until the
matter is investigated by direct experiment, under various
circumstances. The dead weight bears to the live weight a ratio varying
between .571 and .605 to 1; and on applying one or the other multiplier
to the cases of the live weight, a pretty correct approximation is
reached. The tallow is supposed to be eight one-hundredths of the live
weight; so that the multiplier is the decimal .08. The hide is supposed
to be five one-hundredths of the live weight; so to obtain its weight, a
multiplier, .05, is used. The other offals are supposed to be in a
proportion of about one-fourth of the live weight; so that the
multiplier, .28, is as near as can be proposed under existing

Beef is the staple animal food of this country, and it is used in
various states--fresh, salted, smoked, roasted, and boiled. When
intended to be eaten fresh, the ribs will keep the best, and with care
will keep five or six days in summer, and in winter ten days. The middle
of the loin is the next best, and the rump the next. The round
will not keep long, unless it is salted. The brisket is the worst, and
will not keep more than three days in summer, and in winter a week.

In regard to the power of the stomach to digest beef, that which is
eaten boiled with salt only, is digested in two hours and forty-five
minutes. Beef, fresh, lean, and rarely-roasted, and a beefsteak broiled,
takes three hours to digest; that fresh, and dry-roasted, and boiled,
eaten with mustard, is digested in three and a half hours. Lean fresh
beef fried, requires four hours, and old hard salted beef boiled, does
not digest in less than four and a quarter hours. Fresh beef-suet boiled
takes five and a half hours.

The usual mode of preserving beef is by salting; and, when intended to
keep for a long time, such as for the use of shipping, it is always
salted with brine; but for family use it should be salted only with good
salt; for brine dispels the juice of meat, and saltpetre only serves to
make the meat dry, and give it a disagreeable and unnatural red color.
Various experiments have been made in curing beef with salt otherwise
than by hand-rubbing, and in a short space of time, and also to preserve
it from putrefaction by other means than salt. Some packers put meat in
a copper which is rendered air-tight, and an air-pump then creates a
vacuum within it, thereby extracting all the air out of the meat; then
brine is pumped in by pressure, which, entering into every pore of the
meat formerly occupied by the air, is said to place it in a state of
preservation in a few minutes. The carcass of an ox was preserved, in
France, for two years from putrefaction by injecting four pounds of
saline mixture into the carotid artery. Whether any such contrivance can
be made available for family purposes, seems doubtful.

Cattle, when slaughtered, are useful to man in various other ways than
by affording food from their flesh,--their offal of tallow, hides, and
horns, forming extensive articles of commerce. Of the hide, the
characteristics of a good one for strong purposes are strength in its
middle, or butt, as it called, and lightness in the edges, or offal.
A bad hide is the opposite of this--thick in the edges and thin in the
middle. A good hide has a firm texture; a bad one, loose and soft. A
hide improves as the summer advances, and it continues to improve after
the new coat of hair in autumn until November or December, when the coat
gets rough from the coldness of the season, and the hide is then in its
best state. It is surprising how a hide improves in thickness after the
cold weather has set in. The sort of food does not seem to affect the
quality of the hide; but the better it is, and the better cattle have
been fed, and the longer they have been well fed, even from a calf, the
better the hide. From what has been said of the effect of weather upon
the hide, it seems a natural conclusion that a hide is better from an ox
that has been fed in the open air, than from one that has been kept in
the barn. Dirt adhering to a hide injures it, particularly in stall-fed
animals; and any thing that punctures a hide, such as warbles arising
from certain insects, is also injurious. The best hides are obtained
from the West Highlanders. The Short Horns produce the thinnest hides,
the Aberdeenshire the next, and then the Angus. Of the same breed, the
ox affords the strongest hide; but, as hides are applied to various
uses, the cow's, provided it be large, may be as valuable as that of the
ox. The bull's hide is the least valuable. Hides are imported from
Russia and South America.

Hides, when deprived of their hair, are converted into leather by an
infusion of the astringent property of bark. The old plan of tanning
used to occupy a long time; but, such was the value of the process, that
the old tanners used to pride themselves upon producing a substantial
article--which is more than can be said in many instances under modern
improved modes, which hasten the process, much to the injury of the
article produced. Strong infusions of bark make leather brittle; one
hundred pounds of skin, quickly tanned in a strong infusion, produce one
hundred and thirty-seven pounds of leather; while a weak infusion
produces only one hundred and seventeen and a half,--the additional
nineteen and a half pounds serving only to deteriorate the leather, and
causing it to contain much less textile animal solid. Leather thus
highly charged with tanning is so spongy as to allow moisture to pass
readily through its pores, to the great discomfort and injury of those
who wear shoes made of it. The proper mode of tanning lasts a year, or a
year and a half, according to the quality of the leather wanted and the
nature of the hides. A perfect leather can be recognized by its section,
which should have a glistening marbled appearance, without any white
streaks in the middle. The hair which is taken off hides in tanning, is
employed to mix with plaster, and is often surreptitiously put into

The principal substances of which glue is made are the
parings of ox and other thick hides, which form the strongest article
and the refuse of the leather-dresser. Both afford from forty-five to
fifty-five per cent. of glue. The tendons, and many other offals of
slaughter-houses, also afford materials, though of an inferior quality,
for this purpose. The refuse of tanneries--such as the ears of oxen and
calves--are better articles. Animal skins also, in any form, uncombined
with tannin, may be worked into glue.

Ox-tallow is of great importance in the arts. Candles and soap are
made of it, and it enters largely into the dressing of leather and the
use of machinery. Large quantities are annually exported from Russia.
Ox-tallow consists of seventy-six parts of stearine and twenty-four of
oleine, out of one hundred parts.

The horns of oxen are used for many purposes. The horn consists of two
parts: an outward horny case, and an inward conical-shaped substance,
somewhat intermediate between indurated hair and bone, called the
fluid of the horn. These two parts are separated by means of a blow
upon a block of wood. The horny exterior is then cut into three portions
by means of a frame saw. The lowest of these, next the root of the horn,
after undergoing several processes by which it is rendered flat, is made
into combs.

The middle of the horn, after having been flattened by heat, and its
transparency improved by oil, is split into thin layers, and forms a
substitute for glass in lanterns of the commonest kind. The tip of the
horns is used by makers of knife-handles and of the tops of whips, and
for other similar purposes. The interior, or core of the horn, is boiled
down in water. A large quantity of fat rises to the surface; this is put
aside, and sold to the makers of yellow soap. The itself is used as a
kind of glue, and is purchased by the cloth-draper for stiffening. The
bony substance remaining behind is then sent to the mill, and, after
having been ground down, is sold to farmers for manure.

Besides these various purposes to which the different parts of the horn
are applied, the clippings which arise in comb-making are sold to the
farmer for manure, as well as the shavings which form the refuse of the
lantern-makers. Horn, as is well known, is easily rendered soft and
pliant in warm water; and by this peculiarity and its property of
adhering like glue, large plates of horn can be made by cementing
together the edges of small pieces rendered flat by a peculiar process,
as a substitute for glass. Imitation of tortoise-shell can be given to
horn by means of various metallic solutions. Horn, also, when softened,
can be imprinted with any pattern, by means of dies.

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