Friday, September 22, 2017

Dairying - mid C16th to C18th

A significant number of records listed cows and cheese. In the 16th century 100% of the inventories studied listed animals ranging from one old cow, valued at 18s. in 1579, to the largest herd of 10 cows belonging to John More of Henbrook, valued at £16 13s.4d. in 1591. (It is possible that John More gave his name to the Moors Farm.) William Wylde of The Ford (1576) had a large herd of 9 cows, 10 two-year old, and 6 one-year old cattle and 5 calves. It would seem that Dodderhill parish in Tudor times was dairy country, as all but one inventory listed cows (often referred to as ‘kine’).

In the first half of the following century the number of inventories increased but the percentage listing cows fell from 95% to 47%, although the herd size was increasing. This was also noticed in Bromsgrove and suggests that specialisation was starting to take place as farmers with the most productive and improved grazing could increase the size of their stock holding (eg William Geeves (1624) had 17 cows). However, the Civil War had an effect on the numbers of livestock held, as animals were requisitioned by both armies as they made their way through north Worcestershire. Cows in the first half of the century were valued at between £2 and £3, but it is difficult to value livestock as the age of the animal and the time of the year can affect the value. The breed of cow kept is unknown but they are described as black, ‘bryndyd’ and ‘tagged’. Cows, then as now, were named and from the will of John Perkes of Ridgeway (1608) we know that he had a cow called Damsel. Bulls seem to have been owned by a few farmers who shared the bull’s services with their neighbours. John Boulkey of The Ford owed 7 shillings for half a bull he had bought with John Bruer of Worcester, when he died in 1560.

In the second half of the 17th century the number of farmers with cows increased again to 63.3%. The largest herd of 20 cows belonged to the widow Alice Daunce of Sagebury (1686), who had doubled the size of the herd left by her husband in 1667. John Saunders of Rashwood had 11 cows and heifers valued at £25 and John Wylde of Astwood (1683) had 10 feeding cows valued at £39 5s. Overall in the 17th century there were 5% more farmers in Dodderhill with cattle (70%) than in Chaddesley Corbett (65%), where the cows were valued at £2 to £3. These animals were predominately kine or cows, as opposed to a similar number in Bromsgrove, which were steers or beasts, that is animals for fattening as beef. The skins from these animals supplied the thriving leather trade in Bromsgrove, on which the shoemakers and saddlers depended. The percentage of inventories listing cattle fell again in the 18th century to 56.4%. The largest herd was that of Thomas Guise (1728) who had 24 cows valued at £96. Most people had 4 or 5 cows, but there were herds of 12, 14 and 17 animals in the parish.

Next page – Agriculture – Dairy products

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