A Remembrance of the Past; Building for the Future." ~ Eve Eckert Koehler

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

Cattle Breeding (& Pig Breeding; Poultry Keeping)

by Dr. Viktor Pratscher
Translated by Brad Schwebler

     The cattle of the session farmer usually consisted of 2-3 milk cows, 6-8 head of young calves and 2 or 3 (mother calves?) which belonged mostly to the Simentaler (Simen Valley) race, which he bred (nachzüchtet) himself for the preservation of this particular breed to have good milk cows and to provide for his own household.  If the milk cows were already old, 7-8 years old, the farmer cared for them as either as either very pregnant or if the calves had already been born (abkalben), they were sold with the calves.  A good cow with 14-15 liters of milk daily and in the weight of 600 to 650 kg. cost 2,500 to 2,800 Dinar at present.  The (Jungkalbinen) (Rinder) were usually sold as pregnant shortly before delivering.  These are seldom a particular breed of the farmer's but were usualy as (jährige) calves bought at the annual market and as already siad, then the 3-4 year old very pregnant (Kalbinen) were sold.

     The entire livestock except the milk cows and the 6 week old cows put aside, were exclusively fed merely with (wirtschaftseigenem Langfutter?) (corn husks or wheat chaff).  In the summer, after the harvest the entire livestock goes to the pasture.  A part of the wheat stubble was used as pasture.  However the terrain can only be appealing in a rain rich summer because in the hot summer the growing grass and weeds died of thirst (verdürrt?).

Pig Breeding 

The pig breeding was persued by the farmers more in isolated cases.  The farmers bought 8-10 head of "Laufer" (runner?) pigs when they were 5-6 months old and fattened them up for the spring weeks or the annual market.  Three or four of these which were fattened up until fall were slaughtered while the others were sold to the dealer.  However a pig breeding cooperative existed which was a branch of the central pig breeding and pig utilization cooperative (m.b.H.?) in Novi Sad, which introduced the refined German "Land"? pig from the Empire and these were bred for some years.  However this breed was very sensitive to the prevailing pig sickness near us, especially the pig plague and the paratyphoid and from the afterbreeding as well as dying from the original "Sauen" supplied, they gave up on breeding this breed and "übergegangen" more on the "Bergschir" breed.

Poultry Keeping

     A large part of our farmers kept chickens.  From a pronounced chicken breeding nothing can be said because only in completely isolated cases were chickens of pure races bred, and of course these were Rhode Island, Orpington, and also Plymouth.  The chickens were kept mainly by the farmer's wife to cover the household needs with eggs and also towards the meat supply.  The profitability of poutry keeping generally can not be said because the price of poultry sometimes sinks ridiculously low to 3-4 Dinar per kilogram, so the farmer's wife usually only kept enough to be used by themselves.  Besides chickens, ducks and geese were also kept.

     In the spring the farmer's wife usually bought small geese at the weekly market, and sometimes paid 12-14 Dinar for a goose in the fall when they are full grown which are frequently sold for about 4 Dinar per kilogram.  When one calculates the pure earnings it usually results in a big disappointment because a young goose usually weighs 4 to 5 kilograms in the fall, so one usually receives 20 Dinar for a goose at best.  Ducks were usually seldom bred, because one usually could not get paid as much for them as for a goose.  It should also be mentioned that in the last two years they tried to breed and keep turkeys.  This kind of poultry breeding also could not spread much because sometimes they could not be sold in the fall.

     The sale of our kinds of wheat was often impeded by the export dealers with great difficulty.  Because even the export dealer cannot exercise any considerable influence over the salary of the price, so the price of bread grain hinged on the demand and the exploitation by the inland market, usually and very often drove speculation crazy.  It is not easy for our farmers today to choose the right time as well as reaching the best possible price for his grain that through the exaggerated speculation of the price itself, even more often in the year, raised about 70 or even 75 percent , and then fell back again, so the farmer does not even know what to start and the speculation usually fell to the victim, because he is of the opinion that the price will still climb, with the sale itself delayed and very often afterwards he must sell for less than the mentioned percentage than he could have sold it for.

     The price of wheat in the summer of 1935 was 100+ Dinar per Metzen and in October, hardly three months later, on the other hand the price was already 175+ Dinar per Metzen.  This price was paid until the month of February 1936.  Since then the price of wheat has constantly fallen so that today again it hardly costs 110-112+ Dinar.

    The price of other kinds of grain also changed very much like the price of wheat.  Corn already cost 120+ Dinar this year but on the other hand in the fall it was still hardly 80+ Dinar per 100 kilogram.

     Besides the church community tax, the session farmer today has to pay approximately 240-250 Dinar per chain in total taxes.  If one assumes that today's wheat price averages between 120-125 Dinar, then the farmer had an obligation to pay the state, the "Banal" office, and the community administration 200 kilograms of wheat per chain.      

Source: The Germans of the Community of Feketitsch by Dr. Viktor Pratscher. Herausgegeben vom Festausschusz der Gedenkfeier.

[Published at 2004 by Jody McKim Pharr]