28 AUGUST 1880, Page 17

THE COW. * IF we were to ask,—What is a cow

? the author of this book, and the greater part of the world also, would probably reply, "Simply and solely a machine for producing as much milk, cream, butter, cheese, veal, beef, and manure as possible ; " and if pounds, shillings, and pence are the only standard by which she is to be judged, then the answer is true enough, as far as it goes. But to consider it-as a complete and exhaustive descrip- tion of her is about as little accurate as it would be to ask,— What is a Queen P and answer that she is simply and solely a machine for exercising the functions of the head of the State ; without making any account of the likes and dislikes, and good • The Cow; a Guide to Dsiry Management and adtle Rearing, COnlaining all necessary Information regarding Animals, Grazusg, Milt, Batter, and Cheese. London: Ward, Lock, and Co.

and bad qualities, hereditary or acquired, which belong to the personality of the various members of that exalted class, and which make all the difference between Queen Victoria, Queen Isabella of Spain, and the Queen of the Undiscovered Islands.

We believe that each cow has her own separate characteristics and peculiarities, just as surely as each human being has, and that the popular idea of her as being merely a food-machine is both mistaken and unfair. The proofs of her individuality are, no doubt, very generally overlooked, and this is, probably, due to two reasons. Firstly, because her mechanical utility is so great, that people are quite contented therewith, and seek no further satisfaction from her ; and secondly, because she is brought into close contact with the world at large less than any other domestic animal, except the sheep and pig ; so that the only people who have the opportunity of an intimate acquaint- ance with her are cowmen and dairymaids, who are not, as a rule, likely to be careful observers, or apt to reason upon their observations, or to make known the results. From what the present writer has noticed about the cow—very limited as that knowledge is — the conclusion is warranted that she has never yet had full justice done to her ; that her mental and moral good qualities have not been developed, as they might have been, by cultivation ; and that—though less highly gifted with brains than the dog— she yet possesses enough intelligence to entitle her to a more respectful consideration than she usually receives. That cows acknowledge individuality among themselves is evident, from the fact that in every herd there is sure to be found one master- cow, who domineers over all the rest. Is not this clear proof that that particular cow is endowed with an unusual amount of talent, strength of character, gifts of leadership, decision, or some such distinguishing quality, which her companions are capable of recognising ? Watch the thirsty herd going to drink at a pool on a sultry summer day, and you will see the master-cow enter first, unopposed by the others, who—should the pool be a small one—will not presume to join her in it, but will wait patiently on the bank till she leaves the water, even though she may choose to remain there, swishing her tail at the flies and enjoying the cool bath for her legs, for some time after she has finished quenching her thirst. To the human spectator, it would seem that she is selfishly and needlessly prolonging- the thirst of her friends ; but they do not resent her self-indul- gence, nor attempt to hurry her, but only humbly wait till it shall be her pleasure to make room for them to go and drink. For is not she their undisputed chief, and shall not a chief have privileges ? The "top boss" in the present writer's herd is a cow named Dales. She is neither the biggest, nor the strongest, nor the longest-horned of the party, and how she has acquired her supremacy we know not, but we imagine that it must be through sheer force of character and will. We one day had an opportunity of watching her lead her companions to a piece of mischief, which they all quite evidently knew to be against the laws of their human superiors, and therefore to be done on the sly, if possible. The cows were in a field adjoining a rick-yard, and in the rick-yard was an out- house, wherein some mangels were stored. The field was separated from the rick-yard by a hedge, in which was a gap stopped by a hurdle ; ani twice in one day had the- cows broken through the gap, got at their beloved mangels, and been driven out again ignominiously. Undaunted by this, they- made a third attack, and we happened to arrive just in time to see it done. Whilst the men who had driven thern back to the field were still near, the cows all pretended to be grazing as tranquilly as though no higher ambition than grass had ever entered their innocent minds. But no sooner did the coast appear to be clear, than off set Dulas towards the hurdle, with a quick and resolute step, shaking her head with a most defiant and jaunty air as she walked. Instantly, every other cow left off eating, and followed her, all evidently perfectly aware of what she meant to do. Sticking her horns skilfully under a bar of the hurdle, and heaving up her head, to extract the hurdle from the ground, she very soon managed to remove the obstacle, and then proceeded triumphantly to the mangels, with all her companions at her heels. Now, in this case Dnlas seems to have used some kiud of reasoning power ;. for there was no attempt made to batter down the gate by„ brute force, and she had discovered the necessity of lifting it upwards. She has a talent for opening gates with easy fasten- ings which is rather troublesome, putting her horns in and working her head about until she gets the fastening undone. And in this, also, she seems to show reason or observation, for else how would she know which part of the gate to attack? We have another cow, named Eithin, whose situation, when tied up in the cow-house, enabled her to eat out of the division of the manger appointed to her right-hand neighbour, though her own division was out of reach of any cow except herself. Again and again have we seen Eithin, when each cow received her allowance of decorticated cotton-cake, turn at once to her neighbour's help- ing of the dainty (Eithin being the more masterful of the two animals), eat that up first, and then polish off her own share afterwards, her understanding being quite capable of showing her that it must be "now or never," if she meant to get a double portion of the much relished cake. We need scarcely observe that this piratical proceeding of Eithin's was easily overcome, by substituting a more masterful cow as her neighbour, who would allow no liberties to be taken. Another proof of the in- telligence of cows, of which many people are not aware, is that they soon learn to know their own names, and can be -made to answer to them readily. This we have often seen exemplified when our animals are brought into their house for the night. Each cow well knows which stall belongs to herAtand will generally go straight to it by herself ; but sometimes it happens that one of them has a fancy to try a change, and will endeavour to take possession of some other stall,—which attempt is sure to result in more or less scrimmaging, horn- ing, and commotion. On these occasions it is generally sufficient for the cowman, who is, perhaps, tying up another cow at the far end of the cow-house, to shout out authorita- tively, "Ha, Coch !" (or whatever the name of the offender may be), "what are you about there ?" and the offender is at once reduced to order, and obediently seeks her proper place,— proving that she perfectly well knows she is doing wrong, and that she understands that the reproof is addressed only to her.

That the cow is much influenced by affection for human beings is certain. Every one who has ever had much to do with her knows that she will give her milk most freely when milked by a person whom she likes, whereas she will not give it as well, or even will withhold it altogether, if the milker is a stranger, or any one to whom she has an aversion ; conse- quently, it is most important that all her attendants should be invariably kind, gentle, and patient withlher. In our childhood, there was in the herd a beautiful little Alderney, with whom we were on intimate and affectionate terms, and who, after calving, firmly declined to be milked. The dairymaid being in difficul- ties, the present writer went to her assistance, and found that the cow would remain as quiet as possible so long as we stood by her head and caressed her ; and after we had thus assisted for the first once or twice when she was milked, she became quite reconciled to the operation, and never afterwards gave any more trouble about it. At that time we were on an excellent footing with all the cows, through constantly taking them bits of bread, apple-parings, and similar luxuries ; and also through having discovered whereabouts they most enjoyed having their faces, necks, heads, &c., rubbed, or patted, or scratched. The conse- quence of this was that they used to greet the arrival of their friend amongst them cordially, and we well re- member the horror and dismay which this once caused to a German governess. We were crossing a field on one side of a bill, when the herd caught sight of us, and came charging towards us, tossing their heads with joy and excitement, and slipping and sliding down the steep slope in their hurry. The poor governess imagined that she was sur- rounded by mad bulls, and gave herself up for lost ; and never again could she be induced to trust herself in the same field with what she persisted in regarding as dangerous creatures, from whom she had had a most lucky escape.

In the matter of feeding the cow is eminently conservative, and will often go hungry rather than taste something to which she is not accustomed, even though she may eventually come to prefer it to anything else, when once the first prejudice against it has been conquered. Our cowman says, "A cow is the most pertick- lerest animal as there be about her meat," and this fastidious- ness on her part sometimes makes it rather a hard matter to introduce any new kind of food into the cowhouse ; all cows having a natural disposition to think hay, turnips, mangels, and bran, the only really satisfactory materials for their meals. But with patience and perseverance they can be educated, like any one else, and learn to relish cake, comfrey, gorse, malt-dust, palm-nut meal, and many other strange delicacies, at which they once turned up their noses. In the case of new cows coming into the herd, and objecting to any food which may be deemed desirable for them, we have found the quickest way of overcoming their repugnance is to place them between some of the old cows who have already learnt to appreciate the cake (or whatever the stuff to which they object may be) ; for when the new comers see their neigh- bours eating it up greedily, they are seldom very long in following suit, thereby showing imitativeness to be amongst the cow's attributes.

We have wandered far from the little book which we set out with the intention of criticising, and it is time to say a few words about it. It contains a good deal of information about dairy matters, but nothing very new ; and though its small size and cheapness may recommend it to some people, yet we certainly do not anticipate that it will ever attain the position of "a valuable and standard book of reference," which is claimed for it in the preface. When speaking about the proper colour of Shorthorns, how does the author reconcile the statement that "their prevailing colour, and that which is liked best, is black, with deep orange on the naked parts," with the following quotation from a work upon farming which we find a few pages further on ?—

"As the colour of Short-horns is a prominent characteristic of them, I may mention that roan is a handsome colour, and is, I believe, the general favourite now, the fancy for colour having gone from the red to the white, and is now settled on the roan. Dark red usually indicates hardness of constitution, richness of milk, and disposition to fatten; light red indicates a large quantity of thin milk, and little disposition to fatten ; but the red in either case is seldom entire, being generally relieved with white on some part of the sides and belly. White was considered indicative of delicacy of constitution, and to get quit of it, and, at the same time, avoid the dullness of red, the roan was encouraged and now prevails. The white shows the symptoms sooner than any of the other colours of breeding in-and-in. A single black hair on the body, and particularly on the nose, or the slightest blue or black spot upon the flesh-coloured skin upon the nose or around the eyes, or the least streak of black on the tips of the horns, at once proclaim, that a Short-horn sporting either one or more of these impurities is of mixed blood, notwith- standing all attestation to the contrary."

For our own part, we should unhesitatingly pronounce roan

to be the correct shorthorn colour, and not black. The book is full of platesrrepresenting churns, butter-tubs, milk-pans, &c.,

and also many different breeds of cattle, both British and foreign ; but the drawings are not first-rate, and two of them —those of the fat shorthorn heifer and cow—have a very strong resemblance to fat pigs. However, the price is only one shilling, and to expect superior art and a first-class work at so low a rate would be unreasonable.