Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/855

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835
CATTLE-RAISING IN SOUTH AMERICA.

CATTLE-RAISING IN SOUTH AMERICA.
By M. COUTY,

PROFESSOR IN THE POLYTECHNIC SCHOOL OF RIO JANERIO.[1]

CATTLE-RAISING is far from having attained a sufficient importance in Brazil. Immense provinces, like those of Goyaz and Matto-Grosso, vast regions from the Amazon to the Parana, where cattle could be raised easily and without care, remain unutilized for want of a market and of convenient means of transport and conservation. There exist, however, some important stock-raising tracts and cattle-exchanges.

I have visited the provinces of Parana and Rio Grande and the state of Montevideo, and what I have to say relates only to those regions. Being neither an agriculturist nor a zootechnist, I have had to limit myself to incomplete observations, and have endeavored to see how those cattle which are described as half wild, and are without any apparent direct relations with man, have been able to adapt themselves in a definite manner to the different conditions of their life.

Nothing can be more interesting than to study those conditions in which cattle live and are propagated without stables and without an assured supply of food; nothing more instructive than to observe how the time of heat, and consequently of births, the proportion of the young, and even their survival, are differently regulated according to the character of the country, in consequence of different physical conditions. Nothing, moreover, can be more curious than to study the habits of these supposed wild cattle, to see them living in isolated societies, possessing real notions of what is belonging to them, and each member of the community keeping his place. These facts are of further importance, because they have served for the empirical basis of the actual conditions, as they will have to serve as the basis of an improved system of breeding. In all these countries the life of the cattle is wholly free. The stock-raiser, or estancier, is the owner of a very extensive tract of pasture-land, and he leaves the animals to live upon it, feed themselves, and multiply at their will. The stock, even in the wildest and least populous regions, form small herds of from one hundred to one hundred and fifty head, which are made up of steers, cows, calves, and bulls; but are always composed of the same individuals, and always inhabit the same very limited region of the campo, and the animals pass their lives within this region without being confined by any inclosure. The distinctive character of the

  1. M. Couty was recently charged by the Minister of Agriculture of Brazil to visit the southern part of the empire and the neighboring states for the information of the department. The paper of which the most essential parts are here given embodies the results of his inquiries.