Statistical Survey of the County of Clare, 1808

By Hely Dutton

Chapter IV - Section 5

Proportion of working horses and oxen to the size of farms

VERY much of this depends on the pocket of the farmer; where they can afford it, they generally have more horses than are sufficient, or than they feed well, or keep constantly employed; if they could be prevailed on to use only two in a plough without a driver, as practised by a few gentlemen, and not pursue the ridiculous mode of ploughing in the lightest soils with four horses abreast, as very generally practised, there would be a material saving. Oxen are not much used, except in the southern parts of the county, where they are worked by a few gentlemen and the better kind of farmers, four in a plough. Small farmers, and those, who have their farms in common, accommodate each other, and frequently they hire from each other. The question of the comparative value of horses and oxen remains undecided, and is likely to do so, until a fair trial is made of well-fed quick-stepped oxen, or, which is better, spayed heifers, and not of large sluggish animals driven by two, and followed by another animal as lazy as themselves, and with collars, instead of yokes and bows, the most barbarous invention that ever disgraced a civilized country.

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