We rise every week to cover farmers and agribusinesses! 















Teams of dairy oxen to help draw crowds

The work that dairy oxen have done in the past will be recalled and celebrated at the All-American Dairy Show.

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Darwin Braund has been a dairy cattle enthusiast all his life ... and that includes dairy oxen.

Thanks to him, the 50th anniversary of the All-American Dairy Show (AADS) will showcase not just traditional dairy cattle, but dairy oxen as well. It’s a rare opportunity for people to see what the lesser-known side of dairy cattle has contributed over the not just decades, but centuries.

According to Braund, the key role dairy cattle played in providing draft (pulling) power that helped create an agricultural revolution, cleared land, harvested timber, and provide draft power to move early settlers across the U.S. to tame a new landhas been lon forgotten.

Dairy cattle have been a primary source of draft (pulling) animals throughout history. Indeed, some dairy breeds are dual purpose (milk and meat) or triple purpose (milk, meat and draft). The past will come alive at the Harrisburg show when teams of oxen an their drivers will get their time in the spotlight.

What is an ox? There is no special breed of oxen. Any bovine bull calf (dairy or beef) may eventually become an ox. Generally, the calf is castrated at around six months of age. At this point he is often called a steer. If he is being trained to work he is called a "working steer". At four years of age the steer may be called an "ox" if he is trained to work.

All seven breeds of dairy cattle shown at the AADS can be and are used for oxen. In addition, lesser known dairy breeds such as Milking Devon, Dutch Belted and Lineback provide oxen. Many oxen result from crossing dairy breeds or by combining beef breeds with dairy breeds.

Working steers and oxen are novelty animals. Rarely seen in Pennsylvania, they attract large crowds at fairs and public events in the New England states, which have very active 4-H oxen clubs and programs. The largest oxen show in the world today is held at the Fryeburg, Maine Fair. Now in its 163nd year, over 300 teams of oxen compete in performance and pulling contests at this renowned fair. The grandstands are filled with several hundred spectators for each event.

To justify costly travel by oxen owners from Pennsylvania, surrounding states and New England, oxen demonstrations will be held on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons of the 50th anniversary All-American Dairy Show. Details follow:

Saturday, Sept. 14, from 1:00 - 3 :00 p.m. in the Large Arena

Sunday, Sept. 15, from 1:00 - 3 :00 p.m. in the Equine Arena

As of July 31, Braund reports having 27 teams entered, 15 of which are from Pennsylvania. Other states represented are Georgia, Massachusetts, Ohio, Maine and New York. By breed here’s what coming: Holstein, 2; Brown Swiss, 2; Red & White, 2; Jersey, 1; Ayrshire, 1; Durban, 1; Devon, 5; Randall, 1; Milking Shorthorn, 2; Dexter, 1; Crossbreds, 9. Forty-six oxen have been entered in all, of which 26 are from Pennsylvania.

A grand parade of participants with introduction of teams and teamsters by the judge/announcer will start the program each day at 1:00 p.m. Demonstrations of single carts, covered wagon, log sled, log slalom, weighted sled, and log pulling and placement will follow. In addition there will be a timed competitive obstacle course. Also several youth under the age of 18 will exhibit their animals in a special youth-only class.

Fullington Bus Company will run a tour bus from Central Pennsylvania to the DOD on Sunday, September 8. More information is available on their web site and at www.allamerican.state.pa.us.