|Better Farming Series 14 - Farming with Animal Power (FAO - INADES, 1977, 57 p.)|
You should choose:
· Big and rather heavy oxen
The bigger an ox is, the stronger it is. An ox that is too small cannot do much work.
Some oxen are too small for clearing the land and deep ploughing.
· Healthy oxen
The animals must breathe easily and not cough. The bones and muscles must be well developed. The legs, especially, must be strong. The hocks (joints) must be well formed, the hoofs must be solid and smooth.
An animal that walks with difficulty is not good for work.
Look at how an animal walks and you will see whether it will make a good working ox.
The horns must be hard; they must not be tender. You cannot put a head yoke (see page 19) on an ox with broken horns. The neck must be short and strong.
· Oxen not too difficult to train
If an ox is vicious, you cannot train it easily.
Bulls are castrated in order to make them easier to train. But they should not be castrated too young. Wait 18 to 24 months before castrating a bull, for then it will be stronger for work. But in that case it must be separated from the herd so that it does not cover the cows.
If an ox is spiritless and lazy it is not good for training, for it will not do much work.
· Oxen of the same size
If one ox is bigger than the other, the yoke cannot fit well. Then the yoke bothers the oxen and they cannot work well.
If one ox is stronger than the other, the strength of the stronger ox is not fully used.
· Oxen of about the same age
They will be able to work together for several years.
· Oxen of the right age
Do not take animals that are too old. Oxen that are too old are difficult to train. After being trained they will work for fewer years than oxen trained when young.
Do not take animals that are too young. They are not strong enough; they have not finished growing. Their bones are not hard enough. An animal that works when it is too young does not grow,
At the age of 2 or 3 years, you can begin to train oxen. If you begin early, the oxen get into good habits. But before the age of 4, let them do only light work.
At the aye of 4 years, oxen are strong enough to work hard. You can then keep them for several years. Oxen can work up to the age of 10 years.