Home Page

Stefan's Florilegium


This document is also available in: text or RTF formats.

livestock-msg - 12/24/06


Medieval livestock. Pigs, cattle, sheep. Modern efforts to preserve older breeds. Differences between period and modern livestock.


NOTE: See also the files: butchering-msg, cattle-msg, pig-to-sausag-art, rabbits-msg, horses-msg, fishing-msg, animal-prices-msg, The-Sheep-art, sheep-lambs-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

   Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



From: Uduido at aol.com

To: sca-cooks at eden.com

Date: Thu, 10 Apr 1997 18:51:30 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: sca-cooks Fatty meat


<< Possible, but it seems to me equally likely that modern meat animals are

MORE fatty.  >>


Modern breeds of cows and chickens are, indeed more fatty, however, modern

pigs are decidedly LESS fatty. Until the early part of this century pigs were

specifically raised for fattiness, as lard was essential to cooking and

preserving and was generally used to make anything we would now use vegetable

shortening or cooking oil in.


(REF: The 1975 USDA Agricultural Yearbook (That We May Eat), "Streamlining

the Hog, an Abused Individual by Ruth Steyn; pgs.133-138)



From: Deloris Booker <dbooker at freenet.calgary.ab.ca>

Date: Mon, 14 Apr 1997 14:08:11 -0600 (MDT)

Subject: SC - Re: common land for grazing, etc.


In the middle ages, the term "common land" referred to land worked

communally by the peasants/serfs for their own benefit, as opposed to

"demesne lands" which were worked by the peasants/serfs for the benefit of

the lord of the manor.  All the land, whether common or demesne, belonged

to the lord.


"Common land" included fields (grain, vegetables, etc.), pasturage,

woodlands, fish ponds, etc.


Animals (cattle and pigs) were pastured on the stubble after the crops

were cut, on "pasturage" - land used exclusively for that

purpose due to its being unfit for one reason or another for croping -,

on mast (the fallen leaves and acorns of oak forests - this mostly for

pigs), and on binds - the stems left over after the beans have been



Sheep, if being raised for the wool crop as opposed to being just meat

animals, were pastured on permanent pasturage on land that was either too

wet (the fens) or too rough - most of yorkshire for example - for

convenient cropping given the level of medieval farm technology.


The notorious "enclosures " began in the Elizabethan period and continued

right up until the 19th century.  They resulted in the movement of large

numbers of rural poor into the towns and provided cheap labour for the

expanding industrial base of the elizabethan/stewart period as well as for

the much more famous "industiral revolution" of the georgeian / regency

period. (This is, by the way, a gross over-simplification of a very

complex socio/ecoonomic/political upheaval.)


Anyway, hope this is of some help.  


Aldreada of the lakes



Date: Fri, 09 May 1997 09:21:02 -0400

From: nancy lynch <lughbec at erols.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Mediaeval chickens and cows


Carllein wrote:

> Current hen breeds are another wonder of modern "technology" - they lay eggs

> at abnormal times of year, like winter.  


Lughbec wrote:

I have Aracanas (an older breed, still have "wild sense")

and these hens close up for the winter. No eggs. They also like to

roost in my trees at night.  I have to leave a couple "pretend

eggs" in the nests or they seek out a new place to lay.  They

are bad at counting, so can't tell two from twelve, but seem to

be able to tell if there is less than two and will stop laying

in that place.


> Cows give milk after having a calf, which occurs after breeding, which also

> used to be seasonal. They didn't get help from vets with gloves up over

> their elbows (or is that out-of-date now? That is how artificial

> insemination was done 40 years ago).  Cows have also been specially bred for

> abnormally high and long milk production.


While in mediaeval times there was selective breeding practiced for

some of these attributes, they were no where near what exists today,

and were not achieved equally by all feudal lords.  The study of

ancient cattle breeds that still exist today indicates the

seasonality of the natural beastie.


Again, what "could have been" was not what "normally was".  We make

trade outs in this matter, and try to enjoy ourselves while getting

a feel for the lifestyle of that period.

Sonas ort!

Lughbec ni Eoin



Date: Fri, 9 May 1997 09:37:54 CST

From: "Katy Corey" <k_corey at WJHS.NWSC.K12.AR.US>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Mediaeval chickens and cows


   I have araucanas, too! We love the colorful eggs. Mine have very

sweet dispositions but nearly no survival instincts. I have always

put that down to selective breeding. I agree that they have not been

selected for quantity egg production. Mine are not particularly good

mothers, either, though they like to brood eggs.

    I am very interested in periodish livestock. I think that the "old" breeds

of which we have existing represntatives are mostly not really that

old, with some notable exceptions. White Park cattle are supposed to

be the original wild cattle of Britain. There is one strain that is

known to be genetically distinct from the other "British" breeds.

They are also, I read, known for being aggressive & wild as deer -

traits that have long ago been selected out of our modern breeds.

   Back to my araucanas - a stray dog killed 12 of my favorites a

few weeks ago. I also have one old game hen and several of her half

araucana daughters. All of them survived - I'm sure that they flew up

in the trees and observed the slaughter. The araucanas probably had

no sense that anything would really want to hurt them.

  Anyway, I'd love to here from anyone else with period animal &/or

plant projects.


                           Katherine of Blacklea



Date: Sun, 11 May 1997 23:18:04 -0400 (EDT)

From: Carol at Small Churl Books <scbooks at neca.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: old breeds of farm animals


>So, says I with little farming experience in my past, is it possible to

>get hold of stock of such breeds anymore? It is a thought I"ve been

>toying with, particularly after hearing about sheep "shedding" wool...


There was an article in Smithsonian on old breeds of ?cattle? ?and? ?sheep?,

some time within the last couple of years.  Sorry not to be more specific.

One thing that was striking was that some old breeds were so much SMALLER

than the ones we have now.  In that or some other article, there was a

description of milk cows in Ireland having once been tiny compared to what

we have now.


Also, for many years I've had dogs called schipperkes.  They are small dogs

- up to 18 pounds in the U.S.  Yet when they were developed, apparently in

the 1400's in Belgium, they were used to herd sheep.  This worked because

the sheep were so much smaller.  This information comes from a group of

people in Belgium who are interested in schips and Belgium shepherd dogs.

(There is a schip home page in the US that links to the pages in Belgium:



Anyway, the point is that old breeds of sheep and cows were different in

many ways from what we have now.


Lady Carllein



Date: Mon, 12 May 1997 00:56:32 -0400 (EDT)

From: DianaFiona at aol.com

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: old breeds of farm animals



There was an article in Smithsonian on old breeds of ?cattle? ?and? ?sheep?,

some time within the last couple of years.  Sorry not to be more specific.


     There was also an article in a back issue of TI on period breeds of

animals. It was short, and I think the main thrust of the article was to

interest folks in helping preserve some of the endangered breeds. I believe

there were even addresses of an organization or two devoted to the subject.

Sorry I can't remember which issue it's in, but a querry to the stock clerk

should do the trick.


Ldy Diana Fiona O'Shera

Vulpine Reach, Meridies



Date: Mon, 12 May 1997 00:58:54 -0400 (EDT)

From: ALBAN at delphi.com

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: old breeds of farm animals


>So, says I with little farming experience in my past, is it possible to

>get hold of stock of such breeds anymore? It is a thought I"ve been

>toying with, particularly after hearing about sheep "shedding" wool...


I've seen one book on old breeds in England, in a small bookstore in

Tubac, Arizona; it might contain information on contact

groups. Unfortunately, I'll be damned if I can remember either

the title or author of the book, or the name of the bookstore.


If you can wait until December when I revisit the place, I'll

see if they still have copies.


Alban, helpful as ever.



Date: Mon, 12 May 1997 14:14:23 GMT

From: "Kirsten Garner  at  Archaeology" <KGARNER at hsy1.ssc.ed.ac.uk>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: old breeds of farm animals


> >So, says I with little farming experience in my past, is it possible to

> >get hold of stock of such breeds anymore? It is a thought I"ve been

> >toying with, particularly after hearing about sheep "shedding" wool...


Something else I can stick my nose into. :) Going back a bit further

than the Middle Ages here....


Technically what I'm doing over here is zooarchaeology, that is - I

deal with dead animals and the early development of breeds. We've

found that the closest thing to the very early breeds of sheep and

cow are Soay sheep and Dexter cattle.


On size: back at the original domestication of animals (esp the

accepted domesticates: sheep, cattle, pigs, horses and dogs), there

was quite a dramatic loss in size (of the first three anyway). It's

one of the ways we tell early domesticates from those animals of the

same species that were hunted. Why this happened is not quite clear

but it's thought to have something to do with loss of ground for the

animals to range over and therefore loss of nutrients, combined with

the early 'farmers' lack of knowledge as to how to manage them



Wool: all animals shed their winter coats in the spring. Modern sheep

have been bred to retain their coats a bit longer, but they too will

shed out if you don't shear them at the right time. :) So early

animals would shed out regularly. My guess would be that people in

the middle ages just knew when to shear. :)


Open to flames, comments, thoughts.....Julian



Date: Mon, 12 May 1997 14:25:24 GMT

From: "Kirsten Garner  at  Archaeology" <KGARNER at hsy1.ssc.ed.ac.uk>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Mediaeval chickens and cows


>    Anyway, I'd love to here from anyone else with period animal &/or

> plant projects.


Guess I'll sign up even though I'm not technically 'period' (bit

before). I do, however, do a lot of work with horses and breeding

thereof - not current stuff, but from domestication on.  At the

moment I'm working on Iron Age stuff (PhD) but in my spare time (what

little of it there is) I work forward in time looking at the horse in

Rome, and medieval Europe. :)


The horse that we've found to be the closest to the "early" horse in

Britain is the Exmoor pony. This also seems to be the base for the

ponies used by the border reivers in Scotland through the 1300s. I

don't know if this has gotten to the US but over here there's a big

push to preserve the Eriskay pony - it's called  the first true

native Scottish pony (and it sets its origin back pre-history). If

anyone's heard of this, do not be taken in. This is *not* a native

breed and if anyone's really interested, I'd be glad to set the

record straight. Just thought I'd get that out there since we're

talking about early breeds. :)





Date: Mon, 12 May 1997 10:26:13 -0700

From: telyn at gte.net

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: old breeds of farm animals


PWAM1 at aol.com wrote:

> You might try asking a living history museum.  Many of these include period

> farming for whatever period they do.  They might be able to point you in a

> good direction for actually purchacing livestock for yourself.


> Andrea (no SCA name)


ALHFAM (The association for living historical farms and agricultural

museums- at least I *think* that's what it stands for ;-) has a page of

links. Many of the listings focus on American farm history but there

are some links to European sites that deal with medieval farming (and

even Roman agriculture!). You can find them at:



Susanna von Hallwyl


telyn at gte.net



Date: Wed, 14 May 1997 18:39:38 -0400 (EDT)

From: Uduido at aol.com

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: old breeds of farm animals


<< I think the main thrust of the article was to

interest folks in helping preserve some of the endangered breeds.  >>


Also the Farmer's Almanac lists sources for old poultry breeds in their ads.

Classifieds in gardening magazines, etc. can be a useful place to find

information. Look specifically for "Poultry Fanciers" and similar phrases.

Since preservation of genetic stock is a real and needed service, if you

possess the land and facilities to care for and breed these important

animals, I would encourage you to do so!


As far as them being a source of food> Certainly the use of actual period

type animals would be an exciting way to present period recipes but the fact

that chicken breeds from the Middle ages are skinny and scrawny, period pigs

were bred for high fat/lard yield and period cows were small and milk yield

was low, the return of these breeds for general agricultural uses is not

practical nor even desirable in the Current Middle Ages.


Lord Ras



Date: Mon, 19 May 1997 08:59:31 CST

From: "Katy Corey" <k_corey at WJHS.NWSC.K12.AR.US>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Chickens & Eggs & thought on period practices


  Have I got some chickens for you... I would agree that nearly

anyone who keeps chickens primarily for eggs would be thrilled to

find someone else to dress & eat the older layers & excess roosters.

Or maybe I'm the only wimp in the bunch. I love fresh yard eggs but

can't bring myself to kill the chickens.


  This really is appropriate to a period discussion. Any period,

actually except our current bizarre one where we are so isolated from

the sources of our food. Long time ago I decided that if I was going

to eat meat I was going to be involved in the whole process. I have

raised and dressed out a steer, a hog, a lamb, rabbits & chickens.

This has been over a period of twenty years or so. I still hate it

and can almost not eat the meat of the animals I have raised. I'm

giving serious thought to another round of vegetarianism. (Been

there, done that, too.)


  In period I would guess that though meat was a dietary staple eggs

and milk would have been more common every day foods, for the simple

reason that cows, sheep, goats & chickens can convert lots of things

that people can't or won't eat into things that we can. If you've got

a little mobile bug and/or cellulose converting machine working for

you for free, why eat the factory? With the exception of the cultures

who had unlimited grazing room & could support large herds, livestock offspring

would have represented a large part of yearly income but probably

could not have been maintained to full maturity. They were probably

eaten fairly young or traded or sold.


   I've lived & visited in third world countries where the people marvel

that one family would eat a whole chicken for so few people. Their chickens

are often their most valuable possesions and an essential source of

protein. They use the eggs, then cook the old chickens up with rice, veggies, etc, & make them go a long way.


   Small children around the world are delegated to watch over the family's chickens as they peck & scratch all over the village making use of all sorts of garbage. Not just children - in Indonesia I watched grown men herding their ducks into the rice fields for the day, where they ate gobs of bugs & weeds

& never bothered the rice. I'm sure it wasn't so different in period,

even in Europe. Isn't there a fairy tale about the Goose Girl?


   I still hate killing my retirees. I just gave three of my old girls to a pre-school. They live in a pen surrounded by toddlers who are thrilled when they

do lay the occasional egg!                                  




Date: Mon, 19 May 1997 18:05:19 -0400 (EDT)

From: Rooscc at aol.com

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Chicken & eggs thread


The upper classes might have been more knowledgeable about butchering etc than we would think. There are period references to knights and great lords butchering their dinners during wars--personal stories, I mean, where they

chased down the chicken themselves. And taking care of the kill--boars as

well as deer--was considered a knightly art like carving. In one of the

romances (sorry I can't remember which just now) the young hero is recognized as having a princely background by the expertise he shows in dividing the kill.





Date: Mon, 19 May 1997 19:16:42 -0400 (EDT)

From: "Julia A. Bailey" <jbailey at mtu.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Chicken & eggs thread


> ... was considered a knightly art like carving. In one of the

> romances (sorry I can't remember

> which just now) the young hero is recognized as having a princely background

> by the expertise he shows in dividing the kill.


> Alysoun


That would be Tristan in the romance _Tristan and Isolt_, when he comes to

King Mark of Cornwall's lands.


Alix de Bois

Mistig Waetru



Date: Mon, 19 May 1997 22:37:29 -0400 (EDT)

From: Uduido at aol.com

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Chickens & Eggs & thought on period practices


In a message dated 97-05-19 22:19:08 EDT, Alban wrote:

<< I'd also suspect that even townies (even in the big cities), might have a

chicken or two, or small goat or something, out in the backyard to

eat scraps, provide milk, and such. It's amazing what can happen

without housing codes.. >>


You are correct with this assumption. It was only until recent times (this

century for the most part) that "farm" animals were forbidden in towns.  I

seem to recall a story that specifically mentioned that the "herds of swine"

that were running thrugh the streets of Paris were becoming particular

annoying during the Middle Ages. I suspect that our ideas of appropriate

"life-style" may cloud our judgement of what was common in the Middle Ages

more times than any of us would care to imagine. :-)


Yours in Service to the Dream,

Lord Ras (Uduido at aol.com)

<who still feels that I should be allowed to have chickens in the yard even

tho' I live in the "city">



Date: Mon, 19 May 1997 22:44:47 -0400 (EDT)

From: Carol at Small Churl Books <scbooks at neca.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Chickens & eggs & thoughts on period practices


> Katherine mentioned a lot of things that are interesting, to me at least.

>The first is the amount a typical medieval person is involved with any

>process of daily life compared to the amount most of us are today.  


A book that speaks to this directly is "A Medieval Book of Seasons" by

Collins & Davis, pub. by Harper Collins, OOP.  It also has many unusual

illuminations of everyday life on the farm or manor.


>So, I guess I'd say they didn't necessarily have to confront the idea of

>killing their hand-raised animals.  


Unless they were quite urban, the lord and lady had to oversee the running

of the manor, and thus probably knew a lot about the conversion of beast to

meat. Since they may never have been exposed to the concept of "pet", they

were unlikely to have our modern qualms.  The Anglo-Saxons called November

"blood month", and it is only recently (historically speaking) that

delicacies like "blood sausage" have become rare or been renamed.


Many medieval pastimes were brutal to animals - they thought a lot of really

nasty things were funny.  This is an area in which we are very different -

like our hygiene.  This is another area in which authenticity does not

appeal to me.  


Lady Carllein



From: nweders at mail.utexas.edu (ND Wederstrandt)

Date: Tue, 27 May 1997 18:12:38 -0500 (CDT)

Subject: SC - lost country life


With all the discussion about chickens, cows, bees and I'm sure pigs,

sheep and goats will shortly crop up, I thought of a book I really enjoy

reading that talks alot about medieval agriculture and practical stuff.

It's by Dorothy Hartley and it's called Lost Country Life.  I don't have

it at work but I can bring in the publisher and such from home.  It's

very loosely based on Tusser's poem which it includes but it explains a

great many agricultural and farming practises from the middle ages.  I

know it talks about types of animals and bees and how to cook in a large

cauldron. I don't know what everyone else thinks about it but I find it

really fascinating.


Clare St. John



Date: Sat, 31 May 1997 15:01:14 -0400 (EDT)

From: Carol at Small Churl Books <scbooks at neca.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: period farm animals


In a listing of out-of-print books, I found "Rare Breeds" by L.Anderson,

from Bulfinch. It has endangered animal types such as the Belted Galloway

cow (I pictured one with a belt, one with suspenders) and Scots Dumpy fowl

(be sure to get that in the right order).


Lady Carllein



Date: Sun, 18 Jan 1998 08:22:23 -0600 (CST)

From: alysk at ix.netcom.com (Elise Fleming)

Subject: SC - Period Dairying, Etc.


Greetings.   For the person looking for information on period dairy

practices and cheesemaking try _The English Housewife_ by Gervase

Markham, 1615.  There is a good edition out by Michael Best,

McGill-Queen's University Press, 1986, ISBN 0-7735-0582-2.  He has a

chapter on the practices that a good housewife should follow.  While I

don't believe there are "recipes" per se he does mention certain types

of cheeses and what one should do with the whey, curds, etc.


There is also another fascinating book, _The Country House Kitchen,

1650-1900_, edited by Sambrook and Brears.  While the dates indicate

OOP, this book takes some of the manors belonging to England's National

Trust and details the architectural plans and layout of the kitchens

and related rooms.  Tucked in with all the OOP material are references

to period practices.  There are numerous references to dairies and

dairying. I don't know where one might find the book.  It is esoteric

enough that most public libraries wouldn't have it and expensive enough

that most SCAers wouldn't have it.  I have a copy, but then, I'm single

and a pack rat for books!  If there's something specific - dairy

layout, items needed for a "perfect" dairy or dairyroom, post me and I

will send what I can find, time willing.


Alys Katharine



Date: Sun, 25 Jan 1998 15:58:43 +0000

From: James and/or Nancy Gilly <KatieMorag at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Buffalo- Washington?


At 05:22 25-1-98 +0000, niccolo wrote:

>actually, there is a fairly largish population of indigenous buffalo in

>European forest.  I'll look for recipes/references for when they proliferated

>where. They are probably distant relatives to the North American Bion, and

>therefore, probably, a reasonable substitute.


I checked *Britannica* for wisent, and was told "see bison."  The bison

article wasn't very helpful:


        The European bison, or wisent, often called the species *B[ison]

    bonasus* [the American bison is *Bison bison*), is a woods dweller,

    rangier and slightly larger than the American bison and has thicker,

    shorter, blunter horns.  It became rare by the 16th century and in

    the late 20th century survived only in a few small, managed herds.


(*Encyclopaedia Britannica*, 15th edition, Vol II, p 47. Copyright 1977 by

Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.)


The article quoted above didn't say anything about their range, but IIRC,

the surviving herds of wisent are all in Poland.  I don't recall ever

hearing anything about wild wisent in western Europe (they had aurochs -

giant cattle - instead), so Polish and Russian sources would probably be the

best bet for possible recipes.


Alasdair mac Iain



Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 19:17:07 -0500

From: "Daniel Phelps" <phelpsd at gate.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Period? cattle breed article in local newpaper


For more on the subject check out "Rare Breeds" 1994 by R. Downing and R.

Caras Bulfinch Press (Little, Brown and Company Inc. ISBN 0-82122-2125-6,

Library of Congree Catalog Card # 94-75735.  Not much period history on

these but great pictures.


Regarding the keeping of same,  we live in a 5th Floor Condo in West Palm

Beach and while we can deny the existance of the two cats, Snorri Toebiter

and Kali Shadowcat; a cow, even a small one, on the screened in balcony

would be hard for the condo commandos to miss.


Daniel Raoul Le Vascon du Navarre'



Date: Sat, 20 Feb 1999 17:36:53 -0600

From: "kgarner1" <kgarner1 at ix.netcom.com>

To: <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: RE: Cows & Chickens -size


> For some reason (much theory, no answers),

> cattle in the Middle Ages dipped in size, at least in England, breed

> notwithstanding.


> Interesting I know the size supposedly went up with Anglo Saxon Cattle,

> perhaps shortage of food ? In the open field book it goes one about

> restricted pasture grazing etc. Any other farming books you can

> suggest I'd be interested in thanks.


The size of all domestic animals dipped significantly at their initial

domestication. They stayed pretty small throughout the Bronze and Iron Ages

(at least in Europe, although with contact with the Roman, southern animals,

they began to grow (around 2nd century BC on). We get very (relatively) tall

animals in Germany and France around the 1st century and in the UK a little

later. Around the 5th-6th centuries AD, the size in cattle drops off and

some researchers have interpreted this as due to the retraction and fall of

the Roman empire and, thus, the Roman-inported larger stock. The cattle in

these areas were simply reverting back to native type.


Julian ferch Rhys



Date: Wed, 26 May 1999 07:52:09 -0700

From: Anne-Marie Rousseau <acrouss at gte.net>

Subject: Re: Lamb (was Re: SC - New Job)


Hi all from Anne-Marie


Brighid asks us:

>Actually, there seem to be very few period recipes for lamb, although

>there are many for mutton, and quite a few for kid and calf.  I would

>surmise that this is because adult sheep of both genders are productive,

>in a way that goats and cattle are not.  Anyone who is wise in medieval

>animal husbandry wish to comment?


in my sheep raising experience, most of what comes to your average butchers

counter is "lamb" that is pretty close to a year old, which makes it

suspiciously mutton like in my book. (its cheaper to raise one big sheep

for a longer time than a bunch of little sheeps for a shorter period of

time. Only one worming, only one tail docking, only one ear tagging, only

one dehorning, only one...you get the idea)


as for the usefulness of sheep vs cows and goats...the gestation period for

sheep is the same as goats, as well as the fact that goats and sheeps tend

to have multiple births, while cows do not. Male cattle can be used to pull

plows, wagons, etc. your logic that you eat the useless boy goats and boy

cows while keeping the boy sheeps for wool makes some sense, though why

keep a boy sheep who can only make wool when if you eat him (yum yum!), you

cna keep his sister who not only can make wool but can also make milk for

cheese and more baby sheeps.


Methinks part of it is that most of our cookbooks are English, ie land of

wool. If we look at Spanish sources and others from warmer climes, we see a

larger porportion of goat, I bet.


- --AM



Date: Wed, 26 May 1999 11:44:30 -0500

From: Heitman <fiondel at fastrans.net>

Subject: SC - Re: Lamb


At 10:06 AM 5/26/99 -0400, you wrote:

>Actually, there seem to be very few period recipes for lamb, although

>there are many for mutton, and quite a few for kid and calf.  I would

>surmise that this is because adult sheep of both genders are productive,

>in a way that goats and cattle are not.  Anyone who is wise in medieval

>animal husbandry wish to comment?



Actually, I would look at it in a different text.


The number of kid and calf recipes would result in the preponderous number

of people keeping a single adult cow or goat. Remember that these are

milking animals, and as such, need to calve or kid regularly to insure the

production of that milk. If the milk animal doesn't have the correct

internal hormone level, the milk dries up. In period, before the scientific

intervention of drugs, the standard way for these animals to get that

hormone level was to have a baby that needed suckling. NO animal will give

milk until that infant is born (or those hormones are made present



Combine that with the basic necessity that marks a limit on the number of

animals an individuals acreage could support, if the milk was what was

desired, why keep the infant? It would only endanger the future life of the

mother by consuming the food supply of the parent after it is done

suckling. Note that most veal and kid is defined by an age at which sucking

has ended.


Sheep, on the other hand, are kept in large numbers, require large tracts

of grazing and penning land, and lambs go fairly quickly from suckling to

grazing. We do NOT seek the milk from sheep, but rather the wool. I do not

know of any instance where a single sheep was kept for its wool production.

A single cow or goat kept for its milk production is still common today.

And that one animal would be kept until it was too old to calve again. Then

a single new animal would be purchased.


In sheep farming, the herd is culled at least once possibly several times a

year, depending on breed and wool harvest, with up to half the flock being

sold. Prices for wool and for mutton will also work towards deciding which

gets sold, the inside or the outside. This culling usually takes place

after the spring clipping, significantly after the lambing season.

Generally, it is the older sheep which demonstrate a loss in wool

production or may not make it thru the next season, followed by other less

productive or healthy animals. The lambs are kept to replace these animals.


Then again, compared to cows and goats, how much faster does a sheep reach

maturity? This might also make significant difference in what gets sold when.


IOW, calves and kids are killed because they have already done their task

and most people had a parent. Lambs got slaughtered only because there is a

small market for lamb, and were kept by a relative few. Finding period lamb

recipes would therefore, IMO, be proportionally harder to find.


One also might look at what the definition of "lamb" is. I recently helped

cook a feast in which "leg of LAMB" was served. I expected to be dealing

with a (max.) 5-6 pound bone in piece of meat. These averaged 10-12 pounds

each. Sounds more like a Mutton Shank to me. But several butchers from

different places quoted the same weight expectancy. Still tasted delicious

(and NO, there was no mint- sauce, seasoning, or jelly.)






Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 08:00:22 EDT

From: WOLFMOMSCA at aol.com

Subject: Re: Lamb (was Re: SC - New Job)


>From the Meat Department at the UF School of Animal Science:


Veal and Lamb are only Veal and Lamb as long as the animal is milk-fed.  If

you pen them up and feed them milk from a bucket and they don't graze, they

are Veal and Lamb.  If they are free range beasties, they will not be Veal or

Lamb once the mother begins weaning, which can begin as early as 3-4 weeks of

age. It is not recommended that exclusive milk feeding be continued past 12

weeks of age, for the health & well-being of the animal.   If you exclusively

milk feed much beyond  12 weeks, you will have yourself an animal which is

not going to develop the muscle tissue necessary to walk, graze, or breed.

The decision is the farmer's as to whether that animal will be turned loose

to grow up, or be removed from the herd.  By the time it's 12 weeks old, most

birth defects and breeding weaknesses will have evidenced themselves and the

farmer will know exactly what to do with said beast.


Now you know why the animal rights folks get so up in arms about the beef

industry. Big ranchers will often milk-feed calves for up to six months,

waiting for the market prices to be "right".


However, this is now.  In the Middle Ages, I suspect that Veal and Lamb

recipes were specifically designed for the small number of herd culls which a

good husbandman would separate and slaughter early in their lives due to the

same types of birth defects and weaknesses the breeds still have today.  And

it would only be on large farms with fairly large herds of the same breed of

animal. The local villagers who kept a cow would probably cook their culls

in the same recipes they used for older animals, just didn't need to cook the

meat as long.   Medieval cooks didn't watch a clock to determine "doneness".

They would constantly check the dish for doneness by other means.





Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 06:14:03 -0400

From: Melanie Wilson <MelanieWilson at compuserve.com>

To: LIST SCA arts <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: Sheep & goats


I have found a ref  suggesting that the white faced Dartmoor is the closest

longwool breed to those of the post roman breeds, they still have horned

males. Long curly wool, somewhat coarse 250-300 mm staple, yield of 5-9 kg.


The Herdwick is great from its colouring but I can't find any history as



Welsh mountain breeds it is claimed discended from tan faced sheep in

southern Britain in the middle ages (although most ms I've seen show white



Orkney & shetland types seen OK after Viking period for Scotland crofters

Other viking descendents are multi horned Hebradian & manx longhorn. So if

you are a viking get a sheep with lots of horns!


The Bagot goat can be traced to the 14th C when it was brought to England

by returning Crusaders!


Jacob came from middle east via Spain introduced to Britain 16th C as

ornamental sheep.





Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 22:55:05 -0400

From: Bernadette Crumb <kerelsen at ptd.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Recipe 4-Weekend of Wisdom


Seton1355 at aol.com wrote:

> OK, but why is salt pork used over fresh?  Didn't they have fresh?  Were they

> on a long sea voyage? I always understood that salt anything was saved for

> when you didn't have fresh something.  And having a pig for meat seems common

> enough.

> Phillipa Seton


While my experience with pig slaughtering dealt more with 1700s

and 1800s, I would be surprised if things had changed too

drastically from the middle ages.


Pigs are generally born in the spring.  They are usually fattened

over the course of the summer and early autumn, and then

slaughtered in November (or at least after the daily temperature

has approached the freezing mark--no refrigeration back then.)

After slaughtering, the pig carcass was scraped free of bristles,

skinned and butchered.  All the meat was salted for preservation

because it would need to last until the following butchering

season to be used throughout the next year.  Perhaps a meal or

two worth of meat might be withheld from the salting process, to

be eaten right away, but in general the meat was salted and

packed in barrels.  Some may have been smoked (not sure of when

smoking meat for preservation was used in Medieval Europe).

Perhaps wealthy people would be able to have fresh pork at other

times of the year (probably having enough pigs that killing one

out of season wouldn't hurt their annual food supply) but the

non-rich would have kept the pig alive as long as possible to

have it as fat as possible when slaughtering time came.


Bernadette Crumb

(Formerly Lady Sarra Bradhurst

and desperately seeking a name for

my new Moorish persona)



Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2000 15:33:05 -0500

From: Kay Loidolt <mmkl at indy.net>



Marcus Loidolt,aka, Johann von Metten, medieval poultrier, writes:

To all those to whom this comes, who deal with historic animals and

their by-products, Check out this site!!!

They have some fascinating info on all sorts of historic breeds, from

my chickens to sheep, for you textile people, just about any other

domestic animal!

Granted, they are rather biased towards British beasts, but it's a

start!! Maybe we can find info on continental breeding programs like






Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2000 15:33:05 -0500

From: Kay Loidolt <mmkl at indy.net>



Marcus Loidolt,aka, Johann von Metten, medieval poultrier, writes:

To all those to whom this comes, who deal with historic animals and

their by-products, Check out this site!!!

They have some fascinating info on all sorts of historic breeds, from

my chickens to sheep, for you textile people, just about any other

domestic animal!

Granted, they are rather biased towards British beasts, but it's a

start!! Maybe we can find info on continental breeding programs like






Date: Wed, 25 Oct 2000 18:33:38 EDT

From: LrdRas at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - Lamb recipes


phlip at morganco.net writes:

> Maybe now, but I'm sure they were much younger in period.


Animals that were raised for food in the middle ages grew slower than the

hybrids we have today. For instance, veal and sheep were about 18 months old

when slaughtered. There is much information on this subject in English Food

by Jane Grigson.





Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2000 11:26:32 -0500

From: harper at idt.net

Subject: SC - Pigs


The Honorable Lord Stephan asked about pigs.


Gabriel Alonso de Herrera, in his 1513 "Work on Agriculture", has

this to say about pigs:


"Quien quisiere ruido compre cochino"

"Who wants a noise that's big, should buy a pig"

(not quite a literal translation, but it rhymes in the original Spanish)


"They are animals that fatten marvelously, so much so that it

happens many times that they cannot rise onto their feet, nor even

walk, but if you must raise them at home to stuff* them, let it be in

an enclosed place..."


*the word used here, "cebar", has the connotation of deliberately

over-feeding, in order to fatten the animal.


He goes on to say that it's dangerous to let pigs roam about,

because they are dangerous and destructive, and will eat almost

anything, including the young of other animals, as well as their own.


Lessee... Pregnant sows should be well-fed, especially in the

winter, so that they will produce plenty of milk.  Herrera

recommends barley soaked in water.  As for the piglets, he says

you can feed them wheat, either boiled or toasted, but not raw, or

boiled rye.  If the weather is nice, you can send them out to

pasture with their mamas to eat good grass.


"But always before they go out to pasture give them something to

eat, especially in the Spring when the grass is wet with dew, which

harms them, or in the Winter, when it is icy, which makes them

jaundiced and makes them very ill; it is good to give them some

mash, either of bran or of fava bean flour, and with it they will fatten

a lot, or boiled fava beans or any other thing..."


Herrera gives instructions for taking a herd of pigs out to pasture,

recommending certain types of terrain, according to the season

and time of day.  He has a lot to say about leading them to places

where they can eat acorns and wild cherries and grubs.


He makes a distinction between those pigs which are merely well-

fed and those which are shut up for fattening.


This is the gist of it; I may be overlooking some things.  And, of

course, this is *recommended* practice; like the health manuals of

the time, it may reflect what people should have done, but not

necessarily what they did do.


Brighid, not overly interested in pigs at the pre-bacon stage of life


Lady Brighid ni Chiarain

Settmour Swamp, East (NJ)



Date: Sun, 03 Dec 2000 21:53:17 -0600

From: "Mark S. Harris" <stefan at texas.net>

Subject: SC - Period pig info


From "The Year 1000" by Robert Lacey & Danny Danziger:

page 58 -

"Mutton was not a particular delicacy, Wulfstan's memorandum of estate

management described mutton as a food for slaves, and pork seems also

to have been considered routine.


The relatively small amounts of fat on all these meats would be viewed

by modern nutritionists with quite a kindly eye. Saturated fat, the

source of cholesterol with its related contemporary health problems,

is a problem of the intensively reared factory-farmed animals of recent

years, with their overabundant "scientific" diets and their lack of

exercise. All Anglo-Saxons would have been shocked at the idea of

ploughing land to produce animal feed. Ploughland was for feeding

humans. So farm animals were lean and rangey, their meat containing

three times as much protein as fat. With modern, intensively reared

animals that ratio is often reversed. 42"


That footnote is:

42   Hagen, Second Handbook, p93.


The Bibliography has:

Hagen, Anne, A Second Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food and Drink: Production

and Distribution.  Hockwold-cum-Wilson: Anglo-Saxon Books, 1995.


This pretty much echos my thoughts on the situation.


Ann Hagen has quite a lot to say about Anglo-Saxon pigs and their

raising. I will quote some of her info in another message.

- --

THL Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra

Mark S. Harris             Austin, Texas           stefan at texas.net



Date: Sun, 03 Dec 2000 22:22:40 -0600

From: "Mark S. Harris" <stefan at texas.net>

Subject: SC - more period pig info


I mentioned in another message that the book "The Year 1000", footnotes

the section on period pigs not being particularly fat with the book

"A Second Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food & Drink". It indicates page 97.

I believe this off somewhere, but my point to Ann Hagen's chapter on

pigs, which starts on page 102.


Here is a little bit from Anne Hagen's conclusion for that chapter:

"The pig is generally associated with the poorer classes, and most

households may have kept at least one pig although the pig does not

have the very poor/rural connotation of sheep. 193  However, they

were run in herds on the estates of the aristocracy, and in such

numbers that some must have been sold for meat. The will referring

to the funeral feast implies pork and bacon could be bought easily

abd that they were feast food. 194" ...


"Pigs would have been important to the Anglo-Saxons as a source of

essential fat. 197  How much of the carcass of a Dark Age pig was

fat can only be guesses at, though this may have been about 10-15%.

198" [Doesn't seem all that fat to me. Nor does it seem like such

an animal would be raised primarily for the fat/lard. - Stefan]

"For this reason fat pigs were particularly valued, as food rents

indicate, and this continued to be the case into the seventeenth

century...". [Yes, valued, but not the usual - Stefan]


"The fat in the meat would have provided calories, which would

otherwise have had to be derived from lean meat, nutritionally more

valuable as a source of protein." "The fat from pigs was used to

lard other roast and boiled meats and fish. 201"


"Because of it's high proportion of fat, pig meat was comparatively

easy to preserve, and was important because it could be preserved."


"Pigs were also valuable because they did not compete with man for

food, being fattened primarily on woodland or grass, rather than

grain. 202 They would be in better condition than other stock in

late winter since they could find natural forage, and may have been

useful for fresh meat at a time of year unfavorable for the slaughter

of rumiinants."


So while pigs might have sometimes been fattened with grain just

before market, it doesn't look like feeding grains to pigs at

least in England around the first millennium was common.

- --

THL Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra

Mark S. Harris             Austin, Texas           stefan at texas.net



Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2000 00:42:39 -0600

From: Stefan li Rous <stefan at texas.net>

Subject: SC - Ann Hagen's footnotes on Anglo-Saxon pigs


Ok, here are the footnotes that I left off of my quotes on period, or at

least Anglo-Saxon, pigs.


193   Bonser 1963, 249-50, Wiseman 1986, viii.


194   Robertson 1939, 227.


197   Wiseman 1986, 5.


198   Prummel 1983, 261.


201   Moryson, 1617, IV 29, Robertson 1939, 199.


202   Wiseman 1986, 5.


Bonser W. 1963 "The Medical background of Anglo-Saxon England" Wellcome

  Historical Medical Library.


Moryson, F. 1617 "An Itinerary" Vols. I-IV Glasglw 1907.


Prummel, W. 1983 "Excavations at Dorestad 2" Amersfoort.


Robertson, A. J. 1939 "Anglo-Saxon Charters" CUP


Wiseman, J. 1986 "A History of the British Pig" Duckworth


I wonder in particular how easy it might be to find a copy of Wiseman's


- --

THLord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra

Mark S. Harris             Austin, Texas         stefan at texas.net



Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2000 07:08:45 -0500

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Period pig info


LrdRas at aol.com wrote:

> I do have a reference  from Platina which you

> should have in your swine files which specifically states that  at least one

> pig was so fat it had a nest of mice living in it's flesh'. I take that as

> at least  ONE valid primary source that does not conjecture but rather

> indicates that pigs were fat.


Just as a qualifier on the quality of this reference, it really should

be noted that Platina is quoting Varro (presumably the real,

classical-age Varro, not one of his friends' pseudonyms), who claims to

have seen the pig in question in Arcadia. Therefore, what we have is a

secondary account of a report by a Roman author reporting on something

he claims to have seen in a Greek province.


I don't mean to cast doubt on this so much as to put it in

perspective... looking at some of what Pliny the Elder wrote, there's at

least the possibility that some of it is fantasy. I mean, look at Marco

Polo. On the other hand, Varro's claim is better than nothing.





Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2000 11:19:04 -0500

From: "Daniel Phelps" <phelpsd at gate.net>

Subject: SC - Fat Pig, Lean Pig


I would think that a partial solution to this debate would be to look for

period depictions, possibly they might be found in some of 16th century

Flemish paintings as I seem to recall one with a peasant holding a pig by

its hind legs.  If one were to identify the breed of pig to be an antecedent

of a modern breed then, as a first order approximation, it might be

possible, by using the axiom that the present is the key to the past, to

compare one to the other and achieve an index of period porcine corpulence

given enough data points.


As an alternative hypothesis we may indeed find, as I suggested recently,

that like some livestock certain breeds of swine were raised to maximize

some product over another.  Certain breeds of sheep were after all bred for

wool, rather than meat or milk and it is a historical fact that certain

breeds of swine were bred until recently to maximize lard production.  Thus

as a working hypothesis we should be able to determine if "lard" pigs were

the fat ones and "meat" pigs the lean.  There may also have been a dichotomy

between rural and urban swine rearing.  Rural pigs may have been more

general utility beasts while urban or suburban swine rearing might been more

specialized. Additionally I  seem to recall, like cattle drives in the US,

that there were pig drives in England.  This would suggest more intensive

swine husbandry in localized areas.


Regarding the feeding of acorns to swine Rosengarten writes regarding

Quercus ilex in southern Europe that it produces a sweet nut like a chestnut

which is called "bellotas" in "Don Quixote" by Cervantes.  These nuts were

fed to swine.  Single well developed oaks are said by him to yield enough

acrons for 100 pounds of pork.  He futher states that Portuguese hogs often

double or triple their weight in three months on acorns "while lolling about

in open pasture beneath the trees."  The forests are thinned periodically to

maximize production of acorns and cork from cork oaks and "very little

expense is need to maintain these woodlands."    This would suggests

possible variations in swine production by country.


Daniel Raoul, who, from his childhood, recalls the distinctive aroma of pig

rearing with little fondness and no affection.



Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2004 10:32:32 -0800 (PST)

From: Huette von Ahrens <ahrenshav at yahoo.com>

Subject: Re:[Sca-cooks] Lamb (was Re: lent, wine, indulgences, de


To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


--- Terry Decker <t.d.decker at worlnet.att.net>


> I would point out that lamb and sheep are both

> of Anglo-Saxon derivation,

> while mutton is of Norman-French derivation.

> The cookbooks we have are

> written for noble households and date from

> after 1100, when Middle English

> cme into common use.  Middle English is

> Anglo-Norman and the use of the

> word mutton rather than lamb or sheep is

> probably an artifact of the Norman

> French of the ruling class.  It may be that

> mutton did not have a clearly

> defined age implicatio at that time or it may

> be that lambs were too

> valuable to waste as food.


> Bear


According to "The Story of English", this

relationship between Anglo-Saxon and Norman words

shows the class distinctions after the conquest.


All the AS words [sheep, cow, pig, deer] show

that the Saxons were the caretakers of the



All the Norman words [mutton, beef, pork, venison]

show that the Normans were the eaters of the






Date: Sun, 7 Nov 2004 14:32:55 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Goats

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


From: "The Borg" <The_Borg1 at comcast.net>

> Is goat period?


Pliny refers to goats as cattle and comments on the (non-food) uses of

goat's blood.





Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2004 13:07:47 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] buffalos in Italy?

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> Okay, so this isn't a bison, ie: American buffalo, but what kind of

> animal is it and was this animal milked in Italy in the Middle Ages?


> Stefan


I think it is a European variant of Bubalus bubalis, the water buffalo.





Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2004 15:15:34 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] buffalos in Italy?

To: <jenne at fiedlerfamily.net>, "Cooks within the SCA"

      <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


From: "Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise" <jenne at fiedlerfamily.net>

>> I think it is a European variant of Bubalus bubalis, the water

>> buffalo.


>> Bear

> Wouldn't that be the auroch?


Auroch is used for two different animals.  The first, Bos primigenius, is a

large extinct bovine which is the ancestor of most domestic cattle. The

second is the wisent, Bison bonasus, a relative of the American bison.

Neither of these would have been domesticated and available to provide milk

for Scappi.





Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2005 10:22:06 -0400

From: Micheal <dmreid at hfx.eastlink.ca>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Castration WAS Dutch Recipes

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Yes it is still done pretty much the same still. Except Elastics instead of

strings mostly. The crushing tool is called a bardizo (could be wrong on the

spelling). But it looks like a large set of pliers with 4 inch wide jaws.

They do crunch when you squeeze those cords.

Prarrie Oysters are still collected in the same manner. Open sack remove and

rinse brown in a pan and serve forth.



----- Original Message -----

From: "Robin Carroll-Mann" <rcmann4 at earthlink.net>

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

Sent: Friday, February 11, 2005 11:23 PM

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Castration WAS Dutch Recipes



> Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise wrote:

>> I guess I don't know all that much about period methods of neutering rams.

>> Nowadays an elastic band is used around the testicles, so the penis

>> wouldn't be removed until slaughtering.


> Okay, all of you squeamish guys, hit delete now.



> Right.  Don't say I didn't warn you.


> The 1551 edition of the "Book of Agriculture" by Gabriel Alonso de Herrera

> has animal husbandry information.  The section on sheep refers the reader

> to the earlier section on goats, since the castration procedure is the

> same.  It's a long passage, so I'm going to summarize and paraphrase what

> I've read, since I really don't want to take the time to transcribe and

> translate.


> http://alfama.sim.ucm.es/dioscorides/consulta_libro.asp?ref=X533701960

> The section on castration begins with image # 319.


> Kid goats should be castrated under the age of one year, and the earlier

> it is done, the better they will tolerate it, and the better the meat will

> be.  Castration should be done when the temperature is moderate; neither

> very hot or very cold.  Kids born in September should be castrated in

> March.  Those born in December should be castrated in April or May, before

> it gets hot.  Those born in March should be castrated at the end of

> September, or in October.


> The animals should not be allowed to eat or drink before castration.

> There are several methods for castration.  The first is to use a cord to

> tie the scrotum.  This, Herrera says, is the least painful method.  [note:

> I gather, from some casual Web research that a similar method is used

> today, though with elastic.  Apparently, the scrotum dies from lack of

> blood and falls off in a couple of weeks.]  The second method is to tie

> off the scrotum with a cord, open the scrotum and cut out the testicles.

> This makes better meat, very tender.  A nerve is taken out with them.

> This way, you remove all of the lust and aggression.


> Others crush them [ie., the testicles] with something, and this is very

> painful.  And others cut off the scrotum, having first tied it firmly with

> a cord as said before.  It can be cauterized with a hot iron, and anointed

> with cow's butter.


> Castration is best done in the morning, when the animals won't have had

> food or water.  They should not be given food or drink that day.  They

> shouldn't be allowed to walk around much that day, and should be kept in a

> corral or stable.


> --- end paraphrased text --


> Okay, guys.  You can come out now.

> --

> Lady Brighid ni Chiarain

> Barony of Settmour Swamp, East Kingdom



Date: Sat, 4 Jun 2005 08:32:11 -0700 (PDT)

From: Marcus Loidolt <mjloidolt at yahoo.com>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Re: Sca-cooks Digest, Vol 25, Issue 8/ Chicken


To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


Greetings all, From Meister Abt Johann von Metten,

Chicken Laurel.


I have been very busy this Spring so I havenÕt been

following this fascinating thread as I should have,

but thanks to Lady Joanna, I've read up and let her

know some of my opinions regarding the type/age/gender

of most medieval chickens per my research over the

past dozen years.


The term 'Rooster' in period was not reserved for that

of the adult male chicken, indeed it was not so used

until the late 19th century.

Rather the term 'Rooster' or 'Reuster' a bird which

roosts, ie is an adult non breeding member of the

flock, either an EXCESS cock or a hen which is no

longer laying.


The proper term for an adult male chicken, still used

in the poultry industry and in show rings around the

world and country is 'cock', 'rooster' is used when

specifing a non breeding bird.


On a second article, Capons which have been known

since Roman times have often been either greatly

rescricted or so frowned upon as to be illegal to try

to make or raise.  In Carolingian times the mere idea

of emasculating any beast was so repulsive that it was

punishable by imprisonment, and fines.  In Roman times

the slaves used to castrate bull calves and colts were

forbidden to enter the temple of any male god. Even in

early Anglo/Saxon and Norman England this idea was

regarded as strange and bizarre. Only in the various

Roman/Italian and Merovingian early French courts was

the idea of Capon and Gelding, neutering, kept alive.

Even then the fashion came and went in differing time

periods, but always regarded as a sign of decadence

and luxury.


Unlike mammals which have the sex organs on the

outside, chickens have theirs on the inside and so an

operation is needed to remove the testes by way of a

cut between the fifth and sixth rib.


Today there is a greater knowledge of infection and

surgery but then Caponizing was a very expensive

operation because for every 10 birds undergoing said

operation, there was a 10 percent survival rate!


There is now as chemical castration process which is

sometimes done but even then the process is expensive.





Date: Sun, 5 Mar 2006 07:44:47 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] feed, fodder and silage?

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> What is the difference between feed, fodder and silage?


> Stefan


If I understand the distinctions correctly, feed is processed fodder, fodder

is essentially harvested but unprocessed, and silage is stored and fermented






Date: Sun, 05 Mar 2006 13:56:07 +0000

From: "Holly Stockley" <hollyvandenberg at hotmail.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] feed, fodder and silage?

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org


Specifically, feed is a catch-all for any mixture used to "feed" animals.

Fodder usually refers to hay, straw, or other herbaceous materials that are

often fed coarsely chopped.  Silage is plant material that has been

preserved by being allowed to ferment under low oxygen conditions.  Of the

three, silage can only be effectively used by ruminant animals such as sheep

and cattle.





Date: Sat, 20 May 2006 21:11:12 -0400

From: Patrick Levesque <petruvoda at videotron.ca>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] A few more words on lambs

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


Just to add to the amount of date we were gathering on the topic...


Olivier de Serre, in "Theatre d'Agriculture et Mesnage des Champs" (1600)

mentions about lamb that they leave their mother around the month of April

(around 4-5 months old - page 319) and are castrated on the month of March

of their second year (around 15-16 months old - page 323).


Castration seems the important point indicating whether an animal is young

or more mature. He doesn't mention it for lamb specifically, but things get

interesting in his chapter on veal. Young veals or bulls are to be castrated

at 1 1/2 year of age (les veaux ou taureaux seront parvenus au point d'?tre

ch?tr?s... - p.290) - he subsequently calls these castrated animals "boeufs".


So even though there appears to be a certain laxism on terms in period, it

seems that castration is what would differentiate younger farm animals from

the more mature ones.


The more so, I'd add, that older animals used for food are generally those

that have given a few good years of hard work, or of wool - they are

fattened in their last summer to be butchered in the fall.





Date: Sun, 21 May 2006 19:49:33 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] GHHandmaide was Deer Gelding

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


You know of course that The GHHandmaid for the Kitchen is already out in

a transcribed edition. It was done in 1992 by Stuart Press.


http://sykesutler.home.att.net/food.html carries some titles by Stuart

Peachey but not this one. They may be able to get it for you.


http://www.caliverbooks.com/general/stewart/tudorfood.htm lists it as

The Good Huswifes Handmaid for the Kitchen: Edited Stuart Peachey.

A transcription of a general period cookery book with brief glossary.

ISBN.1858040035. 72p. ?7.00.


Johnnae llyn Lewis


Sam Wallace wrote:

> I have

> been working on a transcription project of The good Hufwiues  

> handmaid and I came across a reference to "A gelded Deare." snipped


> Guillaume



Date: Sun, 21 May 2006 20:13:45 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Deer Gelding

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org


Sam Wallace wrote: snipped

> I came across a reference to "A gelded Deare."


> Has anyone seen a reference to this practice anywhere else?


As to gelding deer, the practice is described and appears in


The natural history of Lancashire, Cheshire, and the Peak in Derbyshire.

The author is Leigh, Charles, 1662-1701?

Oxford : Printed for the author, , 1700.


On page 2

Not far from thence lies Lime-Park, belonging to Peter Legh of Lime, Esq

in which there are a great Number of Red-Deer, of which this is

remarkable, that once a Year the Keepers drive them together upon a

grass Plain before the Gates of the Hall, a thing, I believe, not

practis'd upon these Wild Creatures in any other part of the World; The

won|derful consent there is betwixt the Horns and Testicles of these

Creatures is scarce to be imagin'd, as likewise their Yearly casting

their Horns, it is most certain if these Deer be

gelded before the Eruption of their Horns, they never

produce any afterwards, and if before the usual time of casting them,

they then never cast those they are possest of; which Phoenomenon to me

seems to argue, that the principal occasion of casting their Horns is,

that about Rutting time their Testicles are more pregnant than at o|ther

Seasons, hence their Blood being raised to an higher Fer|ment, nay

indeed to so touring a Pitch that Nature it self is al|most unhing'd,

hence the Blood Vessels being distended beyond their Natural Tone, are

uncapable to contain any longer, but are forcibly burst asunder, by the

disruption of these, the Horns, which abound with them, are dispoiled of

all possible Commu|nication of Nourishment, by which means the Nerves

are render'd Weak and Languid, the Horn consequently by its own Weight

declines, and falls off; these Horns afford us in Chymical

Prepa|rations, an Oil, and a Spirit, which is indeed nothing but the

Volatile Salt dissolved in Phlegm, and a Volatile Salt, which are all of

them of Extraordinary use in Languors, and Convulsive Distempers, or in

any Malady of the Nerves; It is affirm'd, by the Learned Dr. Brown in

his Travels in Hungary, that in Servia where the Plague frequently

rages, they find no better Antidote against it than Eating the Flesh of

these Creatures, for which there may be this Reason, it is probable the

Flesh of these Crea|tures, contains a greater quantity of Volatile Salt

than other Flesh may, by which means it becomes a more generous Food,

and by a more than an Ordinary Volatilized Chyle, prevents Coa|gulation

of the Blood which causes that Pestilental Distemper, those Volatile

Alkalies, destroying the other Saline, Acid par|ticles


that make the Coagulum; The Horns of these Creatures by their own

Effluvia are Convertible into a Jelly, which is of great use to

Emaciated Persons, and a noble Food to any, it may be it was from this

Preparation that Monsieur Papin recei|ved the first hint of his New

Digester, by which he Converted Bones into Marrow by their own Effluvia,

which I have seen frequently Experimented by that Excellent Chymist

Christopher White of Oxford, Operator in the Publick Laboratory of that

most Flourishing University; it is affirm'd by the Huntsmen, that these

Creatures when they find themselves Encompassed by the Dogs, and no

possibility of escape, will weep most Mourn|fully, a sight that to a

Tender Spirit wou'd damp the Diver|tisement of that days Recreation, so

endearing a Principle is Life to all Creatures.


I thought it was interesting that he mentioned Papin's New Digester.





Date: Sun, 21 May 2006 23:36:36 -0700

From: "Anne-Marie Rousseau" <dailleurs at liripipe.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] A few more words on lambs

To: "'Cooks within the SCA'" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


And I know when I was on the farm, we would have kids hit the ground

from mid Dec on through the summer, depending. When a sheep or goat

cycles is dependant on day length, and proximity to a male, as well as

other things. But they go into season almost year round, at least in my






Date: Mon, 22 May 2006 13:19:46 -0400

From: Patrick Levesque <petruvoda at videotron.ca>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] A few more words on lambs

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


On 21/05/06 08:38, "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net> wrote:


> Interesting, a veal is a calf raised for slaughter, so if one doesn't turn

> it into veal, then it gets castrated and becomes a steer or an ox.  This

> suggests a problem in determining whether a calf is being raised to  

> be veal or beef.


> I think that technically "boeuf" can be a bull, an ox, a steer, or a cow

> with the conotation that it is being kept for meat, but the precise meaning

> of the term here is probably defined by the context of the writing.


> Bear


Actually, in French, Ox and Beef both translate as 'Boeuf' - there is no

differentiation between the two terms. Same thing goes for Calf and Veal,

which are 'Veau'.


The general impression one gets from De Serres, in the many chapters dealing

with various farm animals, is that the selling of younger animals for

slaughter is not a common incidence - this is hard to justify economically.

The ones that are sold are those animals which are deemed, for some reason,

unfit to grow up and accomplish the labor they are required to.


As for older animals (Oxen, Sheep, etc...) their fate is precisely

described: once they've given a few good years of service, they are fattened

over the course of their last summer to be slaughtered in the fall.  Although

De Serres doesn't mention it, I have a feeling that they would fatten the

"unfit" young animals destined to slaughter as much as they could too.


Generally, animals are brought to the market when they are either young

(i.e. Before castration) to be solde as farm animals, or old (after they've

been fattened) to be solde for human consumption.


This said, we have to keep in mind that this is only one source, in a very

specific part of the world (Languedoc) and customs may vary from place to

place and era.




<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org