AskDefine | Define oxen

Dictionary Definition



1 an adult castrated bull of the genus Bos; especially Bos taurus
2 any of various wild bovines especially of the genera Bos or closely related Bibos [syn: wild ox] [also: oxen (pl)]oxen n : domesticated bovine animals as a group regardless of sex or age; "so many head of cattle"; "wait till the cows come home"; "seven thin and ill-favored kine"- Bible; "a team of oxen" [syn: cattle, cows, kine, Bos taurus]oxen See ox

User Contributed Dictionary




oxen plural
  1. Plural of ox.



  1. definitive singular of oxe

Extensive Definition

In order to become oxen, the cattle must learn to respond appropriately to the teamster's (ox driver's) signals. These signals are given by verbal command, body language, and the use of a goad stick or whip. In preindustrial times, many teamsters were known for their voices and language. In North America, the most common verbal commands are (1) get up (go), (2) whoa (stop), (3) back up, (4) gee (turn to the right) and (5) haw (turn to the left). In the New England tradition, oxen must be painstakingly trained from a young age. Their teamster must make or buy as many as a dozen yokes of different sizes as the animals grow.
In other countries and ox training traditions, adult cattle with little or no prior human conditioning are often yoked and trained as oxen. This is done for economy, as it is easier to let a calf be raised by its mother, and for lack of adequate methods for housing and feeding young calves.
A tradition in south eastern England was to use oxen (often Sussex cattle) as dual-purpose animals: for draft and beef. A plowing team of eight oxen consisted of four pairs aged a year apart. Every year, a pair of steers would be bought at about three years of age, and trained with the older animals. The pair would be kept for four years, then at about seven years old they would be sold to be fattened for beef – thus covering much of the cost of buying the new pair. Use of oxen for plowing survived in some areas of England (such as the South Downs) until the early twentieth century.
Ox trainers favor larger animals for their ability to do more work. Oxen are therefore usually of larger breeds, and are usually males, because castrated males are generally larger – females can also be trained as oxen, but as well as being smaller, they are often more useful for producing calves and milk.


Oxen can pull harder and longer than horses, particularly on obstinate or almost un-movable loads. This is one of the reasons that teams were dragging logs from forests long after horses had taken over most other draught uses in Europe and North America. Though not as fast as horses, they are less prone to injury because they are more sure-footed and do not try to jerk the load.


External Links

oxen in Breton: Ejen
oxen in Czech: Vůl
oxen in Danish: Okse
oxen in German: Ochse
oxen in Spanish: Buey
oxen in Dutch: Os (rundvee)
oxen in Polish: Wół
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1