Children and adults, especially in rural and in farming communities, love this barnyard scene on the Farm Animals Scramble Squares® puzzle.
Farming has become a complex business. The use of modern technology has enabled farms to become larger, more specialized and much more efficient. Ironically, the more successful farmers become at producing agricultural products, the less value their products have in the local market, because the demand for those products has not grown as fast as production. For this reason, farmers are exporting to new foreign markets in an effort to seek more demand from the world’s increasingly global economy.
Dairy farming changed very little from the early domestication of cattle by ancient civilizations until the availability of refrigeration. Raw milk and butter were produced mostly in the spring and summer by small herds and were brought to nearby towns in horse drawn wagons. Any milk produced in excess of what was needed for daily consumption and for butter was processed into cheese on the farm. By 1920, the average dairy cow in the United States produced 4,000 pounds of milk per year. As a result of better cow breeding and nutrition and the development of automatic milking machines, the average American dairy cow was able to produce 6,000 pounds of milk per year by 1955.
Goats were the main source of milk in Europe until after the Middle Ages and were among the very first animals domesticated by humans, approximately 10,000 years ago. Switzerland, where domesticated goats had been used by humans for milk, meat and skins since the Early Stone Age, organized the world’s first livestock registry in the 1600s to keep track of their goat breeding and consumption. Goats, which are about the same size as a large dog, were carried aboard the ships of explorers to provide milk and meat for their voyages to new lands. Goats traveled with the pilgrims from England to Massachusetts in 1620 to provide nutrition for the trip and for the new Plymouth Colony.
Chickens, which originated in Southeast Asia from the red jungle fowl, are produced for poultry meat and table eggs and have been domesticated since 2,000 BC. There are at least 10 billion chickens raised annually throughout the world, of which approximately 4 billion are produced in the United States. Over 90% of the chickens in the United States are raised for their meat. Chickens kept in flocks develop a highly defined social order, determined by each chicken pecking each other chicken until each bird has fought every other bird. When a chicken wins its pecking fight, it wins the right to peck any of the chickens that lost to it, without the losers pecking the winner back. Therefore, each chicken gains the right to peck only those chickens which have been cast below it in the flock’s social “pecking order.”
Humankind domesticated the pig about 5,000 years ago in China, but the origins of the pig go back a far as 45 million years. Pigs are intelligent animals which, when allowed to root around wild in their natural habitat, are quite tidy creatures. Today’s domestic pig was derived from the European wild boar, a cloven hoofed animal which grows to 3 feet high at the shoulder, weighs approximately 350 pounds and whose lower canine teeth form tusks 8 to 9 inches long. Domestication for pigs is a very harsh contract with humankind. Unlike the cow which is kept for its milk, the goat for its milk and its mohair, the chicken for its table eggs and the horse for its transportation, in return for the farmer’s food, shelter, medical care and protection from other animals, porkers give their all!