Animal husbandry

in City of beasts
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Georgian Londoners have been labelled agriculturally unproductive but urban animal husbandry played a crucial role in feeding the population as well as becoming a major sector of the economy. London’s milk came from thousands of cows kept within and on the fringes of the city, while the majority of the pigs it consumed were town-reared by recycling huge quantities of waste into profitable flesh. These activities were rooted in urban tradition but cow- and pig-keeping adapted to urbanisation and industrialisation in remarkable ways. Farming and industry became deeply entwined in the city and by the 1750s huge numbers of cows and pigs were being fattened in inner-city yards on wasted grain produced by London’s breweries and distilleries. While cows gradually became less visible in suburban fields, Londoners continued to live cheek by jowl with these animals and often sought out interaction with them. Meanwhile, domestic pig-keeping continued to thrive in many parts of the capital, offering a valuable side-line for tradesmen, shopkeepers and labourers, and fostering complex relationships between man and beast.

City of beasts

How animals shaped Georgian London



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