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NATIVE CATTLE

The American Native cattle as described in writings around the 1864 time frame. 

       The foregoing comprise the pure-bred races in America; for, though other and well-established breeds, like the Galloways, the long horns, the Spanish, and others, have, at times, been imported, and have had some influence on our American stock, yet they have not been kept distinct to such an extent as to become the prevailing stock of any particular section.

     A large proportion, however, by far the largest proportion, indeed, of the cattle known among us cannot be included under any of the races to which allusion has been made; and to the consideration of this class the present article is devoted.

     The term "breed", as was set forth in the author's treatise, "The Horse and his Diseases", when properly understood, applies only to animals of the same species, possessing, besides the general characteristics of that species, other characteristics peculiar to themselves, which they owe to the influence of soil, climate, nourishment, and the habits of life to which they are subjected, and which they transmit with certainty to their progeny. The characteristics of certain breeds or families are so well marked, that, if an individual supposed to belong to any one of them were to produce an offspring not possessing them, or possessing them only in part, with others not belonging to the breed, it would be just ground for suspecting a want of purity of bloods.

     In this view, no grade animals, and no animals destitute of fixed peculiarities or characteristics which they share in common with all other animals of the class of which they are a type, and which they are capable of transmitting with certainty to their descendants, can be recognized by breeders as belonging to any one distinct race, breed, or family.

     The term "native" is applied to a vast majority of our American cattle, which, though born on the soil, and thus in one sense natives, do not constitute a breed, race, or family, as correctly understood by breeders. They do not possess characteristics peculiar to them all, which they transmit with any certainty to their offspring, either of form, size, color, milking or working properties.

     But, though an animal may be made up of a mixture of blood almost to impurity, it does not follow that, for specific purposes, it may not, as an individual animal, be one of the best of the species. Indeed, for particular purposes, animals might be selected from among those commonly called "natives" in New England, and "scrubs" at the west and south, equal, and perhaps superior, to any among the races produced by the most skillful breeding.

     There can be no objection, therefore, to the use of the term "native," when it is understood as descriptive of no known breed, but only as applied to the common stock of a country, which does not constitute a breed. But perhaps the entire class of animals commonly called "natives" would be more accurately described as grades; since they are well known to have sprung from a great variety of cattle procured at different times and in different places on the continent of Europe, in England, and in the Spanish West Indies, brought together without any regard to fixed principles of breeding, but only from individual convenience, and by accident.

     The first importations to this country were doubtless those taken to Virginia previous to 1609, though the exact date of their arrival is not known. Several cows were carried there from the West Indies in 1610, and in the next year no less than one hundred arrived there from abroad.

Native Cattle - Draft Oxen

DRAFT OXEN

     The earliest cattle imported into New England arrived in 1624. At the division of cattle which took place three years after, one or two are distinctly described as black, or black and white, others as brindle, showing that there was no uniformity of color. Soon after this, a large number of cattle were brought over from England for the settlers at Salem. These importations formed the original stock of Massachusetts.

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