As with produce, the profitability of livestock depends upon market forces and the quality of land available. Early farmers had few livestock, mostly for personal consumption. The canals and railroads of the mid-19th century made it worthwhile for farmers to breed and raise cattle. Cheese factories, which purchased unprocessed milk from local dairy farms, began to spring up along the canal by the late 1840s. This caused the value of milk produced in the valley to skyrocket-nearly tripling between 1870 and 1910. As the dairy business became more profitable, farmers invested more time, money, and energy into their livestock. Farmers purchased breeds of cattle known for higher yields, fed their cows specialized grains, and kept them in barns during the winter to increase milk production. Although the cheese factories in the valley diminished, dairy farms continued to operate throughout the 20th century.
Click to learn more about the Point Farm dairy operation in Everett.
In addition to dairy cattle, Cuyahoga Valley farmers have raised beef cattle, chickens, pigs, goats, sheep, llamas, and turkeys. Most raised only a few livestock to support their family's needs. Whereas the bottomlands were often used for crops, farmers used the highlands to graze their sheep, cattle, and other livestock. In the 1940s and 50s, most farms had chickens, a few geese, and ducks. Larger-scale farmers tried to keep around 60 beef cattle and about 20 pigs. As farms started to slowly fade from the Cuyahoga Valley, fewer families raised large herds of livestock. Listen below as farmers talk about the reasons why they started raising different types of livestock.
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Last updated: December 20, 2021