Agricultural Revolution

When people think about the history of Britain their minds may focus on the impact of the Industrial Revolution. However, there was another significant development which led to an increase in farming production.

During the 17th and 19th centuries output from farms grew to the point where food supplies outperformed the size of the British population. This is known as the Agricultural Revolution and helped to make the country a key exporter of farm products.

There is some debate amongst historians over exactly when the revolution occurred. Furthermore, the key reasons for it are up for dispute. The main consensus is that crop rotation played an important role. Farmers realised that turnips could be grown during the colder months and gathered minerals due to their deep roots. The use of clover as a fertiliser meant that more crops could be grown to feed farm animals. The manure of livestock was then turned into even more fertiliser, maximising the productivity of the farm.

It is likely that without the Agricultural Revolution Britain would not have evolved into the nation it is today. The increase in population meant that more labour was created. As a result society advanced greatly.

Early History

In the early days of human civilization hunting was the main source of meat. However, this eventually became an unproductive method. People were forced to come up with something new. They domesticated and bred animals. Historians believe this was a repeated process that occurred in a range of different places and times.

It is fair to say that dogs are beloved by humans. Sites including Sky News have plenty of stories about the relationships between people and canines. It should therefore not be a surprise that dogs are considered the first ever domesticated animals. They continue to play important roles on farms to this day. For example, sheep dogs control the movements of livestock.

There was progressive domestication of species such as sheep, pigs and goats. Cows became useful thanks to the fact that they produced more milk than their calf needed. These animals could be utilised for work purposes such as ploughing fields. As a result farming became more productive and greater yields were harvested.

Historians believe that chickens were farmed as early as 5040 BC in China. Interestingly this was far from where the wilder ancestors of chickens originated. Meanwhile, llamas and alpacas became integral parts of farms within South America. These creatures were prized for their wool.

Horses are thought to have been domesticated by Asian farmers as early as 3,000 BC. Riding them was extremely beneficial to humans. It provided a way to both travel and corral livestock. Many of the farming practices of thousands of years ago are still performed today.

Farm Films

Since the very creation of moving pictures farm animals have been portrayed. In fact, some film scholars cite footage of a running horse as the first ever example of a movie. Over the years a wide range of cinematic genres have been set on farms.

Whilst some movies feature action packed showdowns the ones about farm life tend to be more understated. The main exception is westerns. These films are sometimes about characters trying to transport cattle across harsh environments. Other times there may be shootouts on a farm.

The Wizard of the Oz is arguably the most famous farm film. Life in this setting is depicted as drab thanks to a sepia colour palette. The main character’s life only becomes more colourful when she leaves the farm.

Farms are often used as the setting for horror films. For example, in Signs a family is terrorised by aliens hiding in crop fields. Occasionally farm animals themselves are turned into movie monsters. This has occurred in Black Sheep and Isolation. However, these environments can also be places where magic and romance blossom. Farms are extremely versatile places for filmmakers to utilise.

Children’s Books

Farm animals have certainly become an important part of popular culture. Since farms around the world tend to contain similar species it makes sense that international authors would choose to depict them. Sometimes they are given human traits. This is very common within children’s literature where talking animals have become an important trope.

It is interesting how many of the greatest children’s books are set on a farm. As kids learn to read they may be given books where these creatures are the main characters.

Illustrations are a key part of this type of literature. Colourful drawings of the animals help to keep the young reader engaged. In fact, the artwork usually dominates the page. Books aimed at older children will utilise more text. Good examples of this include Charlotte’s Web and War Horse.

Children are not the only readers who can enjoy these books. There are several farm based novels written for adults. For example, Animal Farm uses these creatures to create a complex political satire. It is possible for people to grow up and find new farm set books as their reading skills advance. Stories about farm animals are likely to remain popular in the near future.

Pros And Cons

There are plenty of reasons why some people would want to become farmers. However, this line of work is not for everyone. It is important to analyse the pros and cons before making a decision. The majority of new farmers are likely to start small. Therefore the main focus will be on independent agricultural businesses.

In recent years more people have become concerned about the environment. Websites such as the Guardian contain a plethora articles about the push for sustainability. Small scale farming utilises less chemicals than large corporate ones. As a result there is a smaller amount of soil erosion and damaging side effects to the environment.

On the other hand it can be very labour intensive. The farmer might not be able to afford large scale equipment for planting and harvesting. As a result much of the work will need to be done by hand.

A lot of people cite the effects of the local economy as a reason for starting a new farm. Residents of isolated rural areas often prefer to shop from local sources. Doing so means they do not have to travel long distances to get to a supermarket. Money tends to circulate around the community.

The nature of growing organic products means that yields can be lower compared with traditional large scale methods. Furthermore, the crops can be damaged as pesticides are not utilised. In the first years of the new farm there will be a lot of trial and error to create a working system. However, eventually the results will be well worth the toil. Overall farmers have to consider if they can tolerate the stress and hard work.

Animal Welfare

In recent years there has been a big push to protect the animals that are kept on farms. In the past it was often up to the farmer to decide on the level of care for their livestock. This has changed and the government now has a bigger say on what is and is not acceptable. Ensuring animal welfare is now more than just an ethical issue. It is a legal requirement of farmers.

Those responsible for animals need to employ staff who have the necessary knowledge and training to look after the creatures properly. Neglect and cruelty to farm animals is against the law. Every farmer needs to provide their livestock with an appropriate diet and plenty of fresh water. The shelter where they are kept has to be suitable. Depending on the needs of the individual species they may have to be kept away from other types of animals.

Those familiar with BBC News may have read stories that reflect the changing landscape of the farming industry. For example, in 2007 the media covered new legislation designed to improve the wellbeing of animals. There are even government codes of recommendations for each individual type. Reading up on them will ensure that the farmer knows what they are doing.

From time to time inspectors may visit the property to check on the livestock. It is also possible for members of the public to report any issues to their local authority. The main aim is to prevent any unnecessary suffering. Those found breaking the rules can be fined or even imprisoned. Furthermore, those convicted tend to be banned from owning farm animals in the future.

The farmer is also responsible for the welfare of their animals when off the farm. This could include transporting them and displaying them at shows or markets. They need to be inspected by the owner regularly. If they show signs of sickness this needs to be treated. The frequency of checks will depend on the species. For example, poultry should be inspected once a day and calves at least twice daily. Recently legislation has come into force which requires the owner to keep up to date records of the animals and their health history. These should detail the last 3 years of the animal.

Easiest Animals

Sometimes an up and coming farmer will want to start a new project but may not have the time to be too committed. If this is the case they might consider utilising some of the more easy animal types available. There is a great variety to choose from.

Chickens are a very popular option. If a farmer has enough of them they can make a high profit. Chickens are farmed for both their meat and eggs. They do not ned much roaming space and raising them is fairly simple. Readers can use the site Wikipedia to learn about the numerous predators of chickens. That way they can better protect them with high quality fencing systems.

Goats are revered within the farming community thanks to their hard nature. They serve a number of purposes including clearing patches of land. Whilst not everyone is a fan of goat meat their milk is highly sought after. It can be used to make popular cheeses.

In recent years beekeeping has become more mainstream. Honey farms have managed to find a lucrative niche. Even if the beekeeper does not sell it they could consume the honey themselves. These insects are independent for the most part. The farmer will need to sporadically visit the hive and split it for crowding purposes.

Rabbits are often considered wild creatures. However, if the farmer wants to raise something small they may consider these animals. They require very little attention compared to other popular species. Rabbits are also well known for their breeding abilities. Consequently, the farm can expand fairly quickly.

Some people may be put off by pigs because they consider them to be dirty creatures. However, the reality is quite different. Whilst pigs roll around in mud to cool down they are exceptionally clean. Farmers can feed them a variety of foods such as corn, fodder and compost. This is in contrast to alternative species which are much more picky about what they eat. The farmer can decide whether they want to raise pigs on an organic sustainable diet. If so they will likely be worth more at markets.