What Work Do Cows Do?

Photo of a grazing cow

The old brindle cow that raised George, 7/28/1903

Minnesota Historical Society Photograph Collection, Location no. SA3.1 p58

Cows were used for breeding and milking.

Oxen (neutered steers) and horses did the heavy work: they pulled plows, cultivators, reapers, and wagons. Horses were the more versatile of the two, but were also more expensive to buy and maintain. Unlike oxen who could survive on a diet of hay, horses needed oats and corn in order to do hard work.