Mode of Killing Cattle – Butchery at Buenos Ayres
I must not omit to mention that in our rides we were fortunate enough to see the mode in which bullocks are slaughtered. Within a large enclosure of Bamboo canes were confined some 90 or 100 cattle. The ground all round presented a most motley and disgusting appearance. Men women & children crowded the scene, looking each after their booty. With them were interminable carts, for the conveyance of beef – horses – oxen dying or dead – the former giving forth their life in copious streams of blood from a gash in the throat, & the latter in various stages of progress to the end of all – skinned – half-skinned – denuded of flesh & the prey of other animals. We had not to wait long enough to become impatient, ere we saw execution performed on some of the poor animals within their prison. Two or three men rode in among them and forced them to move from side to side. Then one of the party fixed upon one in particular & prepared his lasso, for the throw. It appears that unless the object they mean to lasso be moving, they fail entirely – hence they kept the bullocks in motion until a favourable opportunity offered, when they dexterously threw their weapon & caught their horns in it. The wretched victim unconscious of its doom & ignorant that it is held by the horns of fate makes no struggle but quietly and stupidly gazes around. He soon however becomes fearfully awake. The matador puts his horse to full speed, having previously secured the disengaged end of the lasso to his horse – and then in a rage M.r Bos runs after a stretch, out in a different direction, till he reaches the end of his tether. Meanwhile the horses, trained for the purpose, knows what is coming & firmly fixes himself to receive the shock which he must then experience. Dreadful indeed sometimes is the shock – the horses rears up on his hind legs & stoutly resists the impulse of the ox, who is either at once prostrated on the ground, or recovering himself on the point of falling, set off again in a new direction – but is at last conquered. Should he fall, in an instant one of the assistants, drawing from its sheath a long gutting blade, sharp as a razor, with one swift and dexterous cut hamstrings the wretched animal. At other times they watch the opportunity when the bullock is quiet, get behind him & divide the tendons, presenting a most hideous and disgusting sight, especially when the astonished beast & with rage & agony in his countenance rushes madly on, dragging after him his mangled limbs, till thro’ faintness and loss of blood he drops down & submits his neck to the knife of his executioner.
It is incredible to be told how many and in how short a time are dispatched in this manner. 500 or a thousand may be said here to be no extraordinary number in one day & belonging to one man. They are killed principally for their hides & only the very prime pieces are ever taken as food – the rest being left to the fowls of the air – the dogs & other animals who are fond of such diet. How it would make all at home to eye with joyous glance such an abundance of excellent meat to be taken by any one a discretion – but I have already held forth in my last journal on this carnal subject & shall therefore content myself with telling you that we quitted the scene of butchery with great good will & a resolution on my part never after to be a willing spectator at such a miscalled sport.