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Jan 28, 2012 08:10 AM

Are oxtails really ox?

Or is it cow? It just doesn't make sense to me that the only part of the ox that is commonly cooked is the tail...if it is what is the rest of the animal typically used for? Just curious, thanks.

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  1. They have always been beef when I bought them, although Im sure tails from real oxen must available somewhere.

    1. Just whatever cattle is used for beef wherever you are.

      1. An ox is a cow, or more likely a steer, bred and raised for work as a draft animal. When too old to work, an ox could be butchered and eaten. But there are very few, if any, such animals in the USA, much less a part of the food chain.

        'Ox' just part the conventional name (for some obscure historical reason), not an indicator of the occupation of its former owner. The tails come from the same animals that provide the chuck and porter house steaks.

        11 Replies
        1. re: paulj

          I recall reading an article about using oxen to log in the mountains. This was very dangerous for the ox and one of the drovers commented that they always kept the ox fat so they would be good to eat when one was invariably injured or killed.

          1. re: paulj

            "An ox is a cow"

            I don't know. I remember there was a conversation that an ox is an ox, a cow is a cow..etc.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              An ox is a beast of burden of the bovine persuasion. Normally a steer but apparently early pioneers would also use their milk cow to plow the garden. I'm sure that somewhere in the history of mankind someone hitched a bull to a plow but they tend to be intractable.

              For culinary purposes, see the up thread replies. It is from whatever the rest of the beef is from.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                An ox is a castrated adult male cattle. In the old days ox were commonly used in Europe and other continents for ploughing fields.

                I don't think one would be able to find many ox in Western industrial societies so I would guess that oxtail comes from cows and bulls.

                1. re: iliria

                  "An ox is a castrated adult male cattle"


                  "I don't think one would be able to find many ox in Western industrial societies so I would guess that oxtail comes from cows and bulls."

                  Can we castrate the bulls right before we get the tails?

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Nearly all males are castrated as calves, and are called steers.

              2. re: paulj

                In Spain I was close-up to oxen that were in harness pulling decorated carts in a religious procession and they were bigger than any cow I ever saw---they were like a fur-covered wall. But online dictionaries define "ox" as "an adult castrated bull". What? Back to Spain---I could hear the driver whispering babytalk to his ox and he definitely was calling her "little girl"---"Vete, vete chica, vete nena, vamos mi amorcita, vete, chica" etc. A gender mystery. But they are 'way big.

                1. re: Querencia

                  Paul Bunyan called his pet ox Babe.

                2. re: paulj

                  An ox is a bovine, just like a beef or dairy cow -- just typically a different breed -- just like a Chihuahua, a greyhound, and Newfoundland are all dogs -- just different breeds.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    For the record, the German Deli stant that used to be in the Grand Central Market (NYC) used to label thier in house made roast beef as "roast ox"

                  2. In western Canada (I can't speak for aywhere else) oxtails will be from beef carcasses, i.e. usually from steers or heifers, not from cows who produce calves or milk. For some reason that cut is called oxtail, it's actually just beef tail, and way back it was considered trim and sold very cheaply but not anymore.