Steers & Oxen

Steers & Oxen

An integral part of traditional Vermont agriculture, working steers (castrated bulls) and oxen (steers that have reached at least four years of age and been trained to work) were originally used for farm work because draft horses were frequently unavailable or prohibitively expensive. We’re currently training two pairs of young steers, a long process before they’ll have the size and skills necessary to pull a wagon and take part in other jobs around the farm. Make sure to check in at the horse barn to see how they’re doing!

Huck and Finn

 

Huck & Finn are American Milking Devons and the newest arrivals to the Billings Farm draft animal team. Historically prized as draft animals, Devons have played an integral part in Vermont’s rural heritage, helping to build much of the state’s original infrastructure and earning them a place on the official flag. Unfortunately, the breed is now considered critically endangered by the Livestock Conservancy, with only 500 or so in the United States.

In temperament, Devons are known to be friendly and eager to please. They’re also one of smartest breeds of cattle, and this team is no exception, as we’ve found out the hard way during halter training… Check back next summer, when they’ll be old enough to work in yoke and meet visitors.

Colt and Rooster

Colt and Rooster are five-month-old Jersey steers, currently being trained by Amy, one of our teamsters. She’s been working with them since they were born, and the boys are already walking in a yoke (as you can see in their photo). It won’t be long before they graduate to pulling a small cart and sleigh.