The Foure Bookes of Husbandry, by Conrad Heresbach and Barnabe Googe, was published in 1578 (though I also used a later print in an attempt to get better images to work from)
One way to get to know your food, is to know how your food was raised. Well, today I was inspired (it does not take much really) to transcribe a little section on Cattle Husbandry.
(there might be errors as I did not proofread, however the spelling was kept in tact apart from using standard "s" and using "v" instead of "u" where appropriate in most cases... )
Section on Bullocks:
HIP. Go to EVPHORBUS, let us now see you discharge your part, according to your promise, and tell us some parte of your cunning in keeping your cattell: for next to the horse in worthinesse, commeth the Oxe.
EVPHOR Since it is so appointed, I am contented to shewe you what I can say touching my poore skill: and first, you may not suffer the horse to chalenge the cheefe place, when the olde writers and auncient people did alwaies give the garland and chiefe praise to the Oxe, as to a good plowman and faithfull servant: for Hesiodus, a most ancient writer, and the gravest author of our profession affirmeth, that the famely doth consist of the husbande, the wife, an the Oxe. The selfe same by his authoritie both Aristotle seeme to alleage in his Politickes, and in his Economickes, which beast was alwaies of that honor and estimation, that he was condemned in a great penalty, whosoever did kill him, being a fellow, and cheefe helper in our husbandry. By the woorthines of this beast, many great things received thier names of them: for the number, beautie, and fertilitie of Heyfars, did Italy (as they saye) first take hys name, because Hercules pursued the noble Bull called Italus. This is the cheefe companion of man in his labours, and the trustie servant of the goddesse Ceres: in many great things for the roialtie of the Oxe, they derives their names from the oxe, as in calling also the Grape Buneammam: in fine, Jupiter himself thought good to convert into this shape his sweete darling Eurpoa. Moreover, of a rotten Steere are engendered the sweete Bees, the mothers of honey, wherefore they were called of the Greekes (as Varro saith) The same Varro makes foure degrees in their age: the first of Calves, the second of Yeereings, the third Steeres, the fourth Oxen, the Seres: in the first, the Bulcalfe, and the Cowcalfe: the seconde, the Heyfar, and the Steere: in the third and fourth, the Bull, and the Cowe: the barraine Cow he calleth Tauram, the melch Cowe Hordam, from whence came the feasts called Hordicafesta, because the mitchkine were then sacrificed. The goodness of this beast is divers, according to the diversitie of the country: the best were counted in the olde time to be of the breeede of Albania, Campania, and Toseam: at this day we take the best kind to be in Hungary, Burgundy, Frisland, Denmarke, and in England. Of bullocks, some are for the drawght, some for the staul, and some for the payle: to what purpose soever they serve, whether it be for labout, for milcking, or for feeding, it is best alwaies to choose such as are young, of lusty age, rather than those that are olde and barraine, the woordes of couenant in the olde time (as Varro saith) in selling of Bullocks, were these: doo you warrant these Bullockes, or Steeres, that you sell to be sound, of a sound heard, and without fault. The Butchers that bie for slaughter, and such as bie for sacrifices, use no worde of warrantise: and though some bullocks are chosen by their strength, some by the greatness of their body, yet the best commonly have these properties: large, well knit, and sound limmes, a long, a large, and deep sided body, blacke horned, through in the colour there be no great matter, yet some mislike the white for their tendernesse, which when Varro consenteth, who would have them broade forheaded, great eyed and blacke, his eares rough and heary, his chawes to be large and wide, his lippes blackish, his necke well brauned, and thicke, his oe wlappes large, handing downe from his necke to his knees, his shoulders broade, his hide not hard, or stubborne in feeling, his belly deape, his legges well sette, ful of synowes, and straight, rather short then long, the better to sustaine the weight of his body, his knees streight and great, his feete one farre from the other, not broad nor turning in, but easely spreading, the heare of all his bodie thicke and short, his tayle long, and bigge heared. Palladins thinketh the best time for bying of drawght Oxen, to bee in March, when being bare, they cannot easely hide their faults, by the fraude of the Seller, nor by the reason of their weakenesse bee too stubborne to bee handled, It is best to bie them of your neighbour, least the change of the ayre and soile hur them: for the Bullock that is brought up neere home, is better then the stranger, because he is neither troubled with change of the ayre, water, nor pasture: if you can not have them neare you, bye them from some like country, or rather from a harder, and be well assured that you bye them even matches, left in their labor, the stronger spoyle the weaker. Looke besides that they be gentill, skilfull in their labour, fearefull of the goade, and the driver, not breading any water, or bridge: great feeders, but softly, and not overhastily: for such doo best digest their meate.
(Choosing Breeding stock and Breeding)
In choosinf of Bulles, or kine, the very like signes are to be required, that the Bull differeth from the Oxe, in that he hath a more frowning and fierce looke, shorter hornes, greater, and thicker neck so bigge, as it seemes the greatest part of his bodie, his belly something gaunter, and meeter for Bulling of kine. The Bull before he be suffered to goe with the kine, must be well fedde with graffe, chaffe, or hay, and kept severally by himselfe, neyther must he goe to the Cowe, till tenth of June. Varre woulde not suffer him before the rising fo the Lira: but Aristotle woulde have him all the redding time, to go in pasture with the kine. The cowe likewise would be hie of stature, and long bodied, having great udders, broade foreheade, faire hornes, aqnd smooth, and all the other tokens almost that is required in the Bull, specially to be yeong: for when they passe twelve yeeres old, they are not good for breede, but they live many times farre longer if their pasture be good, if they kept from diseases. The olde Cowe giveth more milk then the yoong, according to the countrey people proverbes, old kine, more milk, yoong Hennes more egges. Againe, under three yeeres old, you may not suffer them to go to Bull: if they chaunce to be with Calfe before, you must put the Calfe from them, and milke them for three daies after, least their udders be sore, afterwardes for beare milking. Plinie writeth, that at a yeere old they bee fruitfull, but the breede will be little, as it happeneth in all too timely ingendringes. You must everie yeere in these beastes (as in all other) sort your stocke, that the olde that be barraine, or unmeete for breeding, may be put away, sold, or remouved to the Plowe: for when they be harraine (as Columella saith) they will labour as well as Oxen, by reason they are dried up, but we use commonly to fatte them: their age is known by the knottes and circles of their hornes, which Plinie marketh likewise in Goates, The time for going to Bull, some take to be best in the midst of the spring: Palladius would have it in July, for so in the twelfth month the shal Calve, for so long the goeth with Calfe (as the common people say) a Cowe and a Quene have both one time. In many places they desire to have their Cowes goe to Bull a thirtie or fortie daies after the tenth of June, that they may calve in March, or Aprill: that they would have much milke, so order the matter, as their kine goe to Bull from the spring to winter, whereby they alwaies milke some: at once bulling the conceaveth, if the chaunce to faile, the goeth to Bull again with twentie daies after: some say, if to be the Bull come downe on the left side of the cowe, it will be a Cowe Calfe, if on the right side, a Bull Calfe. The Greekes affirme, that if you will have a bull calfe, you must knitte the right stone of the Bull, and for a Cowe Calfe, the left: Varro saith, that if you put the Cowe to the Bull immediatly after gelding, the conceaveth: Columella affirmeth fiftene kind to be yenough for on Bull. I think he will well yenough serve twentie kine, if he be such a Bull as I described: if you haus good store of pasture, you may let them goe to Bull every yeere, but you must beware your kine be not to fattte, for that will hinder their being with Calfe. The Cowe should when she is reddying, have but shirt pasture, and the Bull his belly full: so shall neither she be too farr, nor he be unlusty. If the cowe will not take the Bull, you must stampe sea Onyons in water, and rubbe her under the taile with it: if the Bull not lusty enough about his businesse, take the peezel of a Stagge, burne it, and make it in pouder, and with a little wine and pouder, bathe his stones, and his peezell withall, which will serve for the like purpose in all other beastes (as Quintillian saith) his courage is also stirred up by the like odours that you speake of for your horse. A Bull ought not to leap the Cowe above twise in a day as some thinke, but we finde by experience, that he may oftner. In some places they name common bulles, and common Boares to every towne: a Bull will ware furious at the sight of any redde thing, as the Elephant, and the Lyon, which cannot in no wyse abide the sight of any white thing. A Cowe will gyve sucke to a straunge Calfe, but let not the calves lie wyth them in the night, for feare of overlaying them. Some weane them at the first, and suckleth them wyth Mylke, or Whay, having a little Branne in it, or flowre, wherewith they bring them uppe, till they bee able to feede. Whether you meane to reare them for breede, labour, or feeding, you must let them want to store of good pasture: for though they bee of never so great a breede, yet if their pasture bee scantie, they will never come to their full growth: for pasture makes the beast (as the Countrey people saye.)
(this section on castration and steers)
Mago, and the olde husbandes, would have you to gelde them while they be verye yoong, which order wee likewise observe in cutting of them: and in the Spring, or at the fall of the leafe, when they be three moneths olde, or threre about, we use to gelde the Bull Calves, and spay the Cowe calves, sowing uppe the wounde, and annoiting it with fresh butter. Columella would not have them cur, but their stones broken by little and little with an instrument, which kinde of gelding he best liketh, because in the little yoong ones, it is done without bleeding: for when they be something growen up, it is better to cut them at two yeere old, then ar a yeere olde, which must be done in the spring, or at the fall of the leafe, the Moon being in the wane: you must tie up the Calfe to a frame, and before you cut him, you must fasten about the synows, whereby the stones bang, a couple of small stickes like a paire of tonges, and taking holde therwith, cut away the stones, so as a little of the upper parts of the may remaine with the foresaid synows: for by this meanes you shall not hazard the beast by overmuch bleeding, neither is his stomacke quite taken away, but hath something of the fatherremaining, and yet looseth his abilities of ingendring. Notwithstanding, if you suffer him immediately uppon thys newe cutting to go to the Cowe, it is certyne hee may get a Calfe, but let him not so doe, for feare of bleeding to death. The wounde must be annoynted with the Ashes of Vines, the Lytharge, and he must not be suffered the first day to drinke, but nourished with a little meat; three daies after he must be dieted, according to his feeblenes, with greene bowes, and sweete grasse cut for him, and looked to, that he drinke not too much: and if you will, you may annoint the sore for three daies with Tarre, and a little Ashes, and Oile, to heale him the sooner, and to keepe the place from flyes. You must use them while they be yet young, to suffer to be handled, and stroked, and tied up to the Manger, that when they should come to be broken, they may be handled with more ease, and lesse danger: but Columella forbiddes you to meddle with the breaking, or labouring of them, before three yeere old, and after fine: for the one is to soone, the other to late. Those that you have taken up wilde, and be well frames, and proporcioned, according to my paterne, you shall handle and breake in this sort. First of all, see that you have a large roome, where the breaker may easely goe up and downe, and out at his pleasure, without any danger. Before the stable, you must have a faire feelde, that the Steeres may have libertie enough, and not be feared, or heltred, with trees, or busshes. In the stable, you must have certaine stalles, or boordes, yoke wise set up, a seven foote from the ground, to which the Steeres may be tied: this done, choose you a faire day for the purpose, and takeing them up, bring them into the stable: and if they be unreasonable wild and curst, let them stand tied a day and a night without any meate, to tame them withall: afterwardes let him that keeps them, offer them a little meate, not sidewaies, or behinde, but before coying them al the while, and speaking gently to them, stroking their backes, and their moosels, sprinckling them with a little sweete wine, taking good heede, that they strike him neither with head, nor with heele: for if he once get that tricke, he will never leave it. This being a little aquainted with him, you shall bubbe his mouth with Salt, and let downe into his throte certaine lumpes of salt tallowe, and powring after a quart of good wine, which will make him in three daies, as good a fellowe as you would withe him to bee. Some use to yoke them together, I let them drawe some light thing, or plowe in a light plowed ground, that their labor hurte not their neckes. The redier may be breaking them, is to yoke them with an olde Oxe, that may easely instruct them: if hee happen to lie downe in the furrow, doe neither beate him, nor feare him, but binde his feete together, and let him lie, that hee may neither sturre, nor feede: which being well punished with hunger, and thirste, will teach him to leave that sullen tricke.
(This section on feeding cattle)
The feeding of this kinde of cattel is divers, according to the diversitie of Countries: if there bee store of good pasture in the Country, there is not foode to that: in Countries where wanteth pasture, and specially in Winter, hee must bee kept in the Stal, and fed with such fodder as the country yeeldes. Where there are Tares to bee had, it is the best feeding for them: and hay is very good, Chaffe, and Coolestalkes with Chaffe and Hay, and chopt straw sodde together in water, is very good feeding for Winter. In some places, they feede altogether with newe thrashed strawe: in many places they give them Lupines steeped in water, or Chiches, or Peson, mingled with Chaffe: besides the branches and leaves of Vines, the greene branches of Elme, Ashe, Poplar, and Holme, in winter, when other green bowes faile, the Figge Tree will serve, or the brousing of Oakes, and Holly. Oxen are soon fatte in good pasture, and with Wheate, Rapes, Apples, and Radishe: Oxen, or kine, will be passing fatte, where there wanteth pasture, by giving them Meale mixt with Wheate, Chaffe, and Rapes, or Graines. They will mare the sooner fatte, in washing them with warme water, or (as Plinie saith) by cutting their skinnes, and blowing in winde to their bellies with a reede. Sorion seacheth that they will be fatte, if when they are taken from pasture, you give them the first day Colwoortes chopt and steeped in sharpe Vinegar, and afterwardes Chaffe, being well cleaned, and mingled with Wheat branne, for the space of five or six daies, feeding them after with good store of fodder: in Winter you must feede them at the first Cockcrowing, and againe when the daye begins to breake: In Sommer first at the breaking of the daye, then at noone, and at night, in Sommer you must water them twise a day, three houres afore noone, and three houres after: in winter, once a day with warme waster, which is also throught to be good for fruitfulnesse: and therefore the Lakes that are filled with Raine water, are good for them. This kind of cattell desireth not cleane, or faire water, but foule and pudled: yet it were better to give them faire water. Also, you must provide them of warme pastures for the winter, and in sommer, very coole: chiefly Mountaines where they may browse upon the bushes, and picke up a good living among the Weeds: but in lowe groundes and neare the River, Oxen are sooner fatted, and kine give a greater quantitie of Milke.
(this section on housing, leading into medicine)
In Sommer, they lie abroade all the nightes in many places: yea, in England you shall have them fodred abroad all the Winter. Though they be able to abide colde, yet must you provide them of large stalles, for the succouring of such as be great with Calfe, Your stables, or Oxstals, must stand dry, and be well floored, either with stone, gravell, or sand: the stone will suffer no water to abide upon it, the other wil soone drinke it up and dry it: both sortes must be laied slope, that the water may run away, for rotting the groundsels, and marring their houses. Let them open toward the South, so shall they be the drier, and the warmer: notwithstanding, let your windowes open North and Cast, which being shutte in Winter, and open in Sommer, may give a healthful aire. In fine, as neare as ran be, let the houses be neither too hotte, nor too cold, and as day as may be: columella would have two orehouses, one for the winter, the other for the sommer both uncovered, but well and high walled, for keeping out of wilde beastes. The stals would be eight foot wide, that they may have roome enough to lye in, that the kine great with Calfe hurt not one the other, nor the stronger orewrong the weaker: and that there may be room for their keepers to come about them, and for yoking them Vitruuius would have the Orehouse open towardes the East, and to be neare the fire: for fire is naturally beneficiall to rattell, both for the drying up of the infective dampes, and the keeping of the cattell warme. Besides, by seeing of the fire, they are made gentler, and by the heate thereof, what cold they have taken in the pastures, is expelled, and divers inward diseases rured, The houses must be severed with divers rooms, enclosed and racked, the racke must stand no higher then the Oxe may easily reach, and must have such pertitions, as one beast beguile not the other, whereto they must be well haltred and tied, for hurting one the other: Cato would have the pertitions lettised. Moreover, it is to no purpose to feede them Wel, except you also looke to keeping of them in health, and sound, and therefore whether they be in house, or abroade, you must alwaies have a special regard unto them, and to overlooke them in the night, specially, if there be any kine amongst them with Calfe. And though it be needefull at all times to oversee them, both morening and evening, yet most needefull is it of all other times, to see to them in the spring, when you first put them to pasture: for at that time, by reason of their change of diet, both Oxen, kine, and Nayfarres, are most in danger of sickness: in Winter againe to looke to them, that they be not, for sparing of charges, kept of poore, as they be utterly spoiled. And therefor you must spare no litter, specially when they come from labout, to rubbe them, and fry them, stoking them with your handes, and raising the hide from the fleshe, which will do them great good. In comming from worke, or out of the pasture, you must wash their feete wel with water, before you bring them into the house, that the durt and filth cleaving to them, breede no diseases, nor soften their hoofes. Beware of too much cold, or heat, for too much of either, filleth them with diseases. You must take heede they be not chaste, nor chafed up and downe, specially in hotte weather, for that bringeth them to a feaver, or causeth them to have a flixe. Take heede also, that there come neither Swine, nor Poultry neare their stalles, for both of them with their dounging poisoneth the beast. The dounging of a sicke Swine doth breede the pestilence, or murraine amonst cattell. You must away with all manner of carrions, and bury them well for infecting your cattell.