Livestock bragging rights

Farm Forum

Big was always better in the early days of the livestock business.

The bigger the carcass of a steer or hog, the more money it brought to the farmer. In the early days, incidentally, there must have not have been much call for pork, because beef usually was the butcher’s delight.

It may have had something to do with local pride and bragging rights—this business of raising the largest hog or cow for market in the early days.

I read that in 1882, Brookings farmer B. J. Kelsey sold three hogs weighing 1,205 pounds for a total of $4.30.

The local paper reported that B. Sawyer of rural Brookings “had a fat pocket book” after selling a cow for $30 and a sow and five piglets for $15.

In 1886, the Rising Sun Meat Market in Brookings (a strange name for a meat market, don’t you think) purchased four steers weighing a total of 6,080 pounds. The owner figured they were the largest steers ever sold in the county to that time.

Another local butcher, not to be outdone and making sure the newspaper knew about it, bought and butchered a steer that weighed 1,700 pounds.

The contest was on.

The Rising Sun Meat Market countered by butchering a hog that weighed 550 pounds, and then large sheep started arriving at the local butcher shops, who incidentally, did their slaughtering and butchering in the back alleys of Brookings Main Street in those days.

Then the city council forbid back alley slaughtering the late 1890s.

The town butchers were sorely disappointed.

But it was the hungry dogs that were really upset.

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