Hoof power

May 11, 2011

Awesome story in the New York Times about small farms returning to the use of draft animals to pull plows. As the story notes, there are added bonuses in addition to saving on fuel costs: The animals aerate the soil as they walk, they don’t leave ruts like wheels do, and of course free fertilizer!

Rich Ciotola with Larson, far left, and Lucas, the team of young oxen he works with in Sheffield, Mass. (photo by Jennifer May for The New York Times)

The dairy angle on the resurgence of hoof power is that this taps into the large supply of underused male livestock — required for breeding but not much else (story of our lives, fellas). This means that males are very cheap to acquire for plow use.

However, apparently mules are the best for Southern farms — they have a much higher heat tolerance.

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