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Dairy farming is the most important where the climate is too damp for cereal cultivation, but it is also neared to urban markets. It is usually a capital-intensive type of farming. It is a highly intensive type of livestock farming. It is practiced in various parts of Western Europe, to the South of the Great lakes and in the North Atlantic states of North America. The most important animals kept in the mixed farm are cattle. North Western Europe was originally the home of many world renowned cattle breeds e.g. Fresian, Guernsey, Ayrshire, which are first class dairy cattle for milk production. The creameries process -the milk into a wide range of dairy products e.g. butter, cheese, cream etc. New Zealand and Australia are the leading exporters of dairy products, especially butter, while cheese comes from New Zealand and the Netherlands.
All western countries including the U.S.A., Russia, U.K., France, Germany produce large quantities of milk and dairy products, but due to their large population and high consumption, they have little left for export. Though natural pastures are most important, many farmers keep their cattle under cover in winter. Mechanical equipment like milking machines and feeding towers are used. Modern methods of cattle breeding and herd management allow high yields to be obtained as much as 3000 kg of milk/cow/year and thus profits are maintained, cost of marketing are minimized if dairy farms are fairly near to urban centres.
Within the mixed farming zone, there are many districts that specialize in the cultivation of vegetables, fruits and flowers solely for the urban market. Market gardening is well developed in the densely populated industrial districts of North Western Europe. Britain, Denmark, Belgium, Germany and Netherlands and in North Eastern U.S.A., where the daily demand for fresh vegetables, salad crops, table fruits, eggs, milk and meat are tremendous. The market gardens may be located outside the city. In suburban areas climatic and soil conditions are particularly favorable for the production of vegetables. This is cultivated before the main crop. London and Paris are supplied mostly from the Thames and Paris Basins respectively. Some areas, including the stretch of land from Leyden to Harlem in the Western Netherlands concentrate on flower growing which is known as Horticulture. The Netherlands specialize in spring flowers such as tulips, which are flown to all the major cities of Europe. In America California is the greatest vegetable growing state.
Truck farming is also important in the Lake Peninsula, the Maritime provinces of the Atlantic States and Canada. The distance of truck farms from the markets is governed by the distance that truck can cover overnight, hence the name truck farming. Some of the characteristic features of market gardening are (a) Lands are small and are located where the good communication links the consumer location (b) Land is intensively farmed and irrigation is often used. (c) soil fertility is maintained by a liberal application of manures and fertilizers. (d) Market gardens are usually labour-intensive and (e) In order to attain maximum yields and high cash returns the market gardens are scientifically managed. (using selected seeds, insecticides etc.)
In addition to market gardening, a modern development in the industrial region of Western Europe and North America is factory farming. Livestock, particularly, poultry and cattle are raised entirely under cover. They are confined to stalls or pens and are fed on balanced diet or manufactured foodstuff and large expenditure on drugs is needed to keep animals healthy in unnatural conditions and on heating and lightning. This type of farming involves enormous labour but still gives good return as there is an assured market.
Cereals constitute the chief food crops of man and are widely consumed as food staples. They are important because
(a) They furnish the greater part of man's 'calorie intake'.
(b) They yield highly per unit of land area cultivated.
The principal cereals consist of wheat, barley. oats and rye, which are mostly cultivated in, cool temperate lands; maize, which needs a warmer climate, is a subtropical crop; rice and various types of millet, which are mainly the products of tropical regions.