England in the Fifteenth Century

By W. Denton | Go to book overview

NOTE A.
WEIGHT OF CATTLE, ETC.

(At pages156, 171.)

It is difficult to compare the cattle and sheep of the fifteenth century with the same kind of stock now. The present note is but an imperfect contribution towards such comparison. In the Chicago market at the end of 1884, steers under two years old were estimated to weigh 1,331 lbs.; from two to three years old they increased to 1,610 lbs., and from three years and under four to 1,887 lbs. live weight. When dressed for sale the carcases of the same beasts weighed 865 lbs., 1,067 lbs., and 1,275 lbs. respectively ( Chicago Breeders Gazette). English prize cattle weighed still more than this ( Report of Smithfield Club Show in Times, Jan., 1885). These, however, it ought to be borne in mind, are exceptional weights. At present a fairly fat sheep when alive will weigh 135 lbs., and frequently more than this; when trimmed and dressed for sale 76 lbs. From the neighbourhood of Boroughbridge, a correspondent of great experience writes that the dead weight of cattle in that district averages 45 stone, and sheep 72 lbs., in the latter case with a yield of 7 lbs. of wool. Lambs in Shropshire are sold in the markets 75 lbs. in live weight, 40 when dead. All cattle in England, or intended for the English markets, are grown every year of greater weight and bulk than formerly. In Skye the carcass of a steer two years old is estimated to weigh from 350 lbs. to 400 lbs., and Cheviots two years old from 64 lbs. to 70 lbs. dead weight; the black-faced sheep of the same age a fourth less. This is much the same as in England. The carcases of sheep in Hertfordshire weigh, usually, about 70 lbs. In the old statistical accounts of Scotland, we are told that beeves at Forfar in the middle of the last century weighed only from 16 to 20 stone, or from 224 to 280 lbs. It is not likely that cattle in England in 1500 weighed as much as cattle in 1740 in Forfar. In the middle of the sixteenth century ( A.D. 1547), when the pastures of this country had somewhat improved, cattle for the navy weighed rather less than 4 cwt. each ( Rogers' History of Prices and Agriculture, vol. i., p. 328). If we estimate the ordinary cattle of 1500 at a little more than three-fourths of this weight, and we can hardly allow more than this, we must conclude that beeves weighed, on the average, about 320 lbs. at that time. At the begin-

-309-

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England in the Fifteenth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter I 127
  • Chapter II 197
  • Chapter III 257
  • Note A. Weight of Cattle, Etc 309
  • Note B. the Statute of Labourers 311
  • Note C. Allowance of Food for Farm Servants 317
  • Note D 318
  • Index 321
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