|Common Nicknames||Water-Ox, Bubalis, Carabeef|
|Habitat||Ashal Isles, parts of Ithania and Daendroc|
The Muff-oxen is a large bovid native to the Ashal Isles, and also lives along the rivers that wind through the deserts of Ithania. However, in more modern years small pockets of Muff-oxen exist in Daendroc as a growing invasive species and as remnants of a time when most of the Asha people were enslaved by the Altalar of the Allorn Empire. Now, their population continues to rise with the return of the Asha to their native homelands. Once more the Muff-oxen roam the pastures and rivers, grazing on fresh greens and providing meat and milk to the Asha people.
The true ancient history surrounding the Muff-oxen is speculated to have been lost with the destruction of the Dewamenet Empire by the hands of the Allorn Empire millennia ago, when they sought to wipe away all the accomplishments and achievements of the Asha people to discredit their once great Empire. While it can be said that nobody truly knows what the Muff-oxen were like prior to the advent of agriculture among the Asha, one thing can be said for certain, and that is how truly ancient the history of the Muff-oxen is. Even without complete historical data, scholars speculate that the Muff-oxen are one of the oldest examples of domestication among the sentient Races with some species of cow being distant descendants of the Muff-oxen. In more recent history, the Muff-oxen lived alongside the Asha in enslavement and were often kept by the Altalar in tight pens with horrid living conditions, where calves were separated from their mothers immediately after birth. Luckily, many of the Muff-oxen that were kept in such horrible condition were freed alongside the Asha during the Cataclysm and Wildering. The newly freed Asha used these Muff-oxen as beasts of burden in transporting their belongings with them overseas in The Great Journey back home to their native lands, where the Muff-oxen once grazed freely, not kept in squalid conditions nor deprived of the joys of being among the herd in the open fields. Not all Muff-oxen crossed with the Asha back to the Ashal Isles. Some remained amongst the land torn in the wake of the Wildering and propagated small herds and grew to become an invasive species, while others migrated back to the deserts of Ithania and boomed along the banks of the winding rivers. Much like ancient times, the numbers of the Muff-oxen begin to swell once again.
While the intricacies of ancient history may be vague or unclear, one thing is certain: the vital role the Muff-oxen served in the Dewamenet Empire and now serve once more to the Asha people. The Muff-oxen is the primary source of food for the Asha people due to their high quality meat and plentiful production of milk, which is made in greater quantities and with higher nutritional value than the milk produced by most species of cows. Cream made from Muff-oxen milk churns much faster at higher fat levels and yields higher overrun than most other domesticated cows. Butter yields more stability, but where the milk truly shines is in the production of cheese. The Asha often make use of the Muff-oxen’s milk to make a wide array of delicious aged hard cheeses, occasionally made with herbs to add additional flavor or spice to the meal.
In comparison to other species of domesticated bovids, the Muff-oxen is quite exotic and looks vastly different to the common Anglian Cow that inhabits Regalia. Unlike regular cows, Muff-oxen have much stronger muscular legs, and a more rounded body. Their bones are far less visible, and their body tends to have more body fat on it, regardless of whether the Muff-oxen is well fed or not. Their eyes are further up in their skull, while their nose is more elongated, running in a straight line from their forehead to the tip. Muff-oxen may sometimes also have so much hair under their head that they grow beard-like hair growths, but generally have very short hair, and downwards pointing ears. Namely the Muff-oxen native to the Ashal Isles has a light brown coat with dappled creamy spots along its thin coarse fur. Male Muff-oxen stand at a rough height between 4’4ft - 4’9ft at the withers, while females stand roughly around 3’10ft - 4’4ft. The Muff-oxen weighs roughly between 720-1,400lbs with some exceptions.
Some sexual dimorphism exists between males and females of the species in terms of weight and size, though more notably males of the Muff-oxen species have bulkier horns with a curious twisting knot around the base in addition to being wide and curling upwards to the sky after moving sideways from the skull. Differences of color exist depending on the region that the Muff-oxen is from; Muff-oxen in Ithania have a much more pale coat reminiscent of sand yet kept the dappled pattern, while Muff-oxen in Daendroc, left in the wake of the Asha’s exodus to their homeland, have a darker coat in addition to having a slight green tint
Life Span and Development
Muff-oxen can be born both in and out of captivity and in both instances they exist in herds of up to forty a head. These herds consist mostly of females with the exception of a few bulls who will compete with each other for dominance and the right to bear calves. Cows will become pregnant every other year and tend to live for up to thirty years while bulls often only live for twenty five, both in and out of captivity. A calf tends to stay around their mother until they are around eight months old, at which point they are considered an adult and are capable of taking care of themselves. One of the reasons why the Muff-oxen is considered an invasive species in some regions of the world is due to the fact of how quickly they breed and grow by comparison to other bovids. They can very easily outnumber most native species of bovine and take their place in the food chain.
While other forms of domesticated animals might boast a high degree of intelligence, the Muff-oxen do not and aren’t the brightest by any means, which makes them perfect for being cattle or beasts of burden. What they lack in intelligence they make up for by being very benign and kind creatures with a protective attitude towards members of their own herd and sometimes those that care for them. Unlike some other species of bovid, the Muff-oxen aren’t very aggressive at all, with the exception of mating season once a year where farmers take heed around bulls as they vie with one another for dominance.
Territory and Groupings
Muff-oxen live in herds roughly around forty a head but some herds of up to sixty a head do exist, owing to their fast breeding and growth cycle. It goes without saying that the Muff-oxen is a herd animal and never do they stray far from one another. Where one Muff-oxen goes, all the others will follow, which is often the bull. If you can control the dominant bull, you can control the entire herd. However, one thing to note is that these bovids are fiercely defensive and do not often run away when a predator approaches, and instead a majority of the herd will form a defensive unit around their calves to keep predators at bay.
- Muff-oxen have a curious relationship with Urlan where they will sometimes actually consider Urlan a part of their herd to some degree and treat them like another Muff-oxen, but this isn’t always beneficial to the Urlan as some bull Muff-oxen will see Urlan as competitors during mating season and will challenge them accordingly.
- Muff-oxen make great beasts of burden and are often used to plough fields while their waste is used as fertilizer. They’re capable of understanding very basic commands, though are exclusively used in Fair-Ports as cash-crop beasts of burden, as Asha do not eat plants.
- While Altalar cuisine makes little use of the fatty meat of the Muff-oxen, they do like their cheese and some have come up with their own cheeses using the milk derived from the Muff-oxen.