Old McDonald had a farm, but there may have been more strategy to running it than you once thought!
Cute farm animals are always fun to look at, but most animals are on the farm for more than just looks. The incorporation of farm animals into farming follows a delicate and critical formula that keeps the farm and its produce healthy and regenerative. While the current state of our beloved farms are suffering much more these days, despite the USDA working everyday to strengthen the American agricultural economy, many farms across the country are still operable and have many furry employees! These animals help us smile our way through the cold winter months, but they also have a lot more to contribute! Curious about the roles and benefits animals can bring to the farm? Here's some insight on exactly what goes on and who does what!
7 Cute Farm Animals With Jobs
Besides the obvious meat and dairy produces, cows are an excellent source of fertilizer! Which is, well, also pretty obvious. Manure is a major benefit of this livestock, being strategically grazed through fallow areas of the farm, orchard rows, and perennial spaces, leaving behind natural fertilizer. Rather than importing manure and fertilizer from outside sources, farmers incorporating livestock add another layer of fertility alongside complex fertilization and crop rotation plans.
Chickens do some really weird things, like laying blue eggs, but chickens also happen to serve as a convenient form of pest control. Them snacking on harmful insects like maggots and their larvae, which can lead to the demise of many healthy crops and fruit, is a natural form of pesticide. Plus, this infusion of natural protein in the flock's diet also ensures a bright orange yolk in the farm's eggs. Yum!
Pigs can be safely kept as pets, but most of the time you'll find them on a farm. Aside from simply being absolutely adorable, livestock like pigs are also used for residue removal, managing damaged crops leftover in fields. Being able to forage through this material for a snack is not only an efficient clean up method, but also a great way to reduce the farm's feed costs! Pigs often run through fields directly after harvests to quickly munch on left-behind vegetable crops that have too much pest damage to harvest for human consumption. As a bonus, they provide additional fertilization and cultivation by constantly rooting for roots and grubs with their powerful snouts.
Did you know that some livestock can actually help with land restoration? It's a bit complicated, but just follow me on this one. Many large-scale habitat restoration efforts use them to tackle the restoration of large grasslands. Overgrazing can actually destroy the land you are working to restore, which is why balance and timing is everything! Since many invasive prairie grass are annuals, while natives tend to be more perennial, farmers will run their goats at the proper time, encouraging them to eat the annual grasses prior to maturation and allow the native populations to out-compete invasive grasses.
When you think of cute farm animals, you usually forget about dogs, but we can't forget about our adorable fluffy friends! For centuries, dogs have assisted humans with farm work and enjoyed rural, countryside living. In fact, some dogs have been bred specifically to thrive doing farm work, whether herding livestock, protecting the farm and its inhabitants, exterminating vermin, or helping with other tasks. These breeds include Airedale terriers, Australian cattle dogs, and border collies! There are tons of different types of shepherd dogs bred just for this purpose, so it's easy to find an excuse to adopt one for your homestead.
When it comes to the roles horses play on forms, it's more of a question of what they DON'T do! A horse's farm and ranch work includes working cattle, ploughing, hauling, pulling equipment, carrying packs, and rodeo. They're also a pretty easy form of transportation, and don't forget that they provide some immense anxiety relief when the farmers get to groom them!
Working donkeys are pretty busy when they're on duty, too! For starters, they contribute to the household economy by saving time and transport costs. And when it comes to their labor, their role is to transport household members and their goods and aid in household chores like fetching water and firewood.
These cute farm animals prove that being cute is just a part time job. What will they get up to next?
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