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A Brief History of Fodder

People have been raising livestock for centuries, so it would only make sense that the methods used to feed livestock have evolved over a vast swath of time. And, in the case of fodder, this is the case. Fodder, food harvested and stored specifically for animal consumption, is a clear step up from forage, food that livestock graze while it is still in the ground, in terms of time and resources. Forage is a very simple and intuitive method for feeding animals (this is not to say that it is primitive). Fodder, on the other hand, isn’t so much—instead, it has developed over time to become what would be called “modern” forage.

As early as the 1300s, farmers used plants that they grew to feed their livestock. However, a domestic animal’s diet at this time was quite lacking in diversity—for the most part, the animals would be fed a one-course meal of turnips day in and day out. It was not until the 1900s that farmers began to introduce a wider array of foods to their livestock’s diets. Feeding livestock was a communal effort at this time, and the idea of using fodder year-round seemed preposterous. Any fodder that was being used at this time was seasonal. Fodder was a winter-only institution. During the other nine months of the year, farmers would just let their livestock get their nutrition from the ground.

It was not until the 20th century that fodder became a method that was widely used—and used more than just seasonally. Whereas before this animals were fed largely with vegetables, but the 20th century’s fodder revolution greatly diversified what animals were eating and are still eating today. Nowadays, while vegetables have not fallen out of use as livestock feed, fodder includes hay, grass and various different grains. This is not to mention fodder that is composed of various different elements, such as compound feed.

At first glance, fodder might seem like something that has remained uniform throughout history, but this could not be further from the truth. In fact, fodder has undergone quite a few changes over the course of the last eight centuries. Starting as a seasonal method of livestock feeding, with forage being preferred, fodder has grown to encompass various vegetables, grains and mixtures. And while it might seem mundane to document the growth of fodder through the years, there is no denying that fodder’s evolution has had an enormous impact on agriculture throughout the world. 

 

 

Posted By: The Hay Manager

Posted on: 09/05/2016
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