Cattle in the Middle Ages.

This page was created by Marc Carlson
It was last edited 9 June 2004


Just don't ask...

About Cattle

Domesticated cattle (B. Taurus).
Height of 150 cm (59"), and weigh 410-910 kg (900-2,000 lbs.). Eat 70 kg (155 lbs) of green grass a day Eat 1.4 kg (3 lbs) of silage or .45 kg (1 lb) of hay for every 100 lbs of body weight. Lactating cows require an additional .45 kg (1 lb) of grain or feed for every 3 lbs of milk it produces
[2.7-4.4 gallons per day. Milk weighs 3.9 kg (8.6 lbs) per gallon].

Cattle were raised principally in history for either milk production or for muscle. Beef and leather are byproducts of an animal that has either died or is somehow otherwise surplus.

"Just how big were cattle in the Middle Ages anyway?"

To determine size, we look at two standards. The height to the top of the shoulder (aka the whithers), and/or the weight. This information will be given in the following manner: [female cm (in.); kg (lbs)/male cm (in.); kg (lbs)]

Therefore, in Britain, at least, cattle in the Middle Ages were smaller than the "average" modern cattle (I *think* 110 cm: 150 cm is about 73% and about 3.6"). On the other hand, the different breeds can give you a different idea of what an average Bovine should look like.

"What Breeds existed in the Middle Ages, and would that have an effect on the statistics?"

Most breeds of cattle can not be dated accurately before the 1700s, so it may be difficult to determine what breeds existed then. Let's look at some breeds assumed to have existed before the 17th century.


"Are there any other modern breeds that might have remained unchanged from the Middle Ages?"

The following breeds appear or claim to be pre-17th century "landraces".