The History of Animal Labour in Agriculture

Though animals are now a normal part in agriculture, it was not always this way. With the birth of agriculture around 10,000 years ago, people moved away from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to more settled and controlled towns centred around agriculture. People did this for a more stable source of food. Around this time, another branch of agriculture, called patoralism, came to be. This included the domestication of animals for both labor and food. The domestication consisted mostly of goats, cattle, and sheep, which provided milk and wool to the farmers. Another change that happened around 3,000 BC was the domestication of animals not used for food. This included donkeys and horses, which were used for labor. In some places, cattle was also used as a draft animal (animals who work). These animals would pull farming equipment with wheels as they were way stronger than the farmers. Eventually, horses started to be bred specifically to be most efficient, making them big and extremely strong. Another animal that was used as a draft animal, and still is today, is the Asian Water Buffalo. The buffalo assists in the farming of rice, and is still commonly used in many parts of Asia. Today, animal labor in agriculture is still prevalent in under-developed countries as they are cheaper and more accessible than farming machinery. This may be controversial in some parts of the Western world as animal labor is frowned upon, but it is the reality in many parts of the world.