Jacob Biggle’s Vintage Livestock and Farming Books

If you love old livestock and farming books as much as I do, visit the Biodiversity Heritage Library and download Jacob Biggle’s Biggle Farm Library books for free.

Biodiversity Heritage Library

The cover and frontpiece of The Biggle Swine BookWikipedia says, “The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is a consortium of natural history and botanical libraries that cooperate to digitize and make accessible the legacy literature of biodiversity held in their collections and to make that literature available for open access and responsible use as a part of a global ‘biodiversity commons.'”

What this means is that through them you can access over 200,000 vintage agricultural and natural history books and journals and download them as PDF files at no cost whatsoever. And their selection is outstanding! It includes all ten Biggle books including my favorite old-time sheep guide, the: Biggle Sheep Book: Something practical about sheep; all wool and a yard wide, mutton chops cooked to the taste of the most fastidious.

Biggle said, “Kindness counts”

Biggle advocated kindness toward animals in an era (1890-1912) when that wasn’t always the norm, and his books are liberally laced with humor. In addition to writing books, Biggle was a frequent contributor to the Farm Journal, the leading agricultural publication of his day. Most of his books were published through the Farm Journal’s publishing house, then headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In The Biggle Horse Book he says, “Make the little foal gentle. Sugar will do it, and kind words” and “If you must put frosty bits in some mouths, let it be your own. Suffering begets sympathy.” “No animal responds to good treatment as quickly as the cow,” he says in the Biggle Cow Book and in the Biggle Sheep Book, “Do not scare them to death when you go among them, or yell at them when trying to drive them.”

Some of the information in these books is seriously dated but a surprising amount is still appropriate today. I’ve learned a thing or two from the Biggle books. Give them a try. Chances are, you will too.

The Biggle Farm Library: Get it Here
  • The cover of the Biggle Sheep BookBiggle Sheep Book: something practical about sheep; all wool and a yard wide, mutton chops cooked to the taste of the most fastidious (1912)


  • Biggle Horse Book: a concise and practical treatise on the horse ; adapted to the needs of farmers and others who have a kindly regard for this noble servitor of man (1898)


  • Biggle Cow Book: old time and modern cow-lore rectified, concentrated and recorded for the benefit of man (1898)


  • Biggle Poultry Book: a concise and practical treatise on the management of farm poultry (1895)


  • Biggle Swine Book: much old and more new hog knowledge, arranged in alternate streaks of fat and lean (1912)


  • Biggle bee book: a swarm of facts on practical bee-keeping, carefully hived (1909)


  • Biggle Berry Book: a condensed treatise on the culture of berries ; with leaves from the experience of many practical berry growers in all parts of the United States (1899)


  • Biggle Garden Book: vegetables, small fruits and flowers for pleasure and profit (1912)


  • Biggle Orchard Book: fruit and orchard gleanings from bough to basket/gathered and packed into book form (1911)


  • Biggle Pet Book; a collection of information for old and young whose natural instincts teach them to be kind to all living creatures (1900)


An engraving from The Biggle Sheep Book picturing a flock of sheep
Illustration from The Biggle Sheep Book




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