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Oxen in the United States of America have played an important role throughout its history. Unlike other countries,oxen were never completely given up for horses, mules, or tractors. Instead, the culture of keeping oxen has been maintained by a small group of teamsters in the North- eastern states collectively called New England. Their continued presence has been largely due to agricultural fairs and exhibitions where they have been used in competition for the last 200 years. Ox teamsters were sur- veyed in 2021via social media using Qualtrics. The 423 ox teamsters responding owned 1791 oxen in 39 states, with the majority of oxen and teamsters in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachu- setts and New York respectively. The gender breakdown of ox teamsters was 59 % men, 40 % women. Results showed 257 teamsters used their oxen for farm work, 213 for exhibitions and parades, 191 for logging, 173 for recreation, 165 for competition showing, 144 for competition pulling, 85 at living history farms and in historic settings, and 18 in television and movies. Teamsters worked oxen an average of 7 hours/week and 89 % train the oxen as calves. 289 people learned to train from friends, 211 from family, 202 from books, 158 from organizations related to oxen, 156 from the Internet, 152 in the 4-H program, 129 from videos, 94 at hands- on workshops, 54 from magazines and 42 from living history farms. More than 20 breeds of cattle were used as oxen with Milking Shorthorns (11.9 %), Holstein-Friesians (10.9 %), Chianina (9.6 %) and Brown Swiss (9.3 %) being the most numerous.
Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Conroy, Andrew B.: Oxen: Status, Uses and Practices in the U.S.A., Encouraging a Historic Tradition to Thrive, in: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Hessen, Kropp, Claus and Zoll, Lena (Eds.): Draft Animals in the Past, Present and Future, Heidelberg: Propylaeum, 2022, p. 137-152.
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For the link to the chapter on Oxen by Andrew Conroy
Oxen: Status, Uses and Practices in the USA, Encouraging a Historic Tradition to Thrive.
For the Full Book on Draft Animals Past, Present and Future