Accepted Paper:

Under one roof: the year-round intimacy of "summer stall-feeding" of cattle in the German Economic Enlightenment, ca. 1750-1800  


Jadon Nisly (Otto-Friederich University of Bamberg)

Paper short abstract:

The “summer stall-feeding” of the German Economic Enlightenment brought cattle into farmhouses day and night year-round, shaping animal lives through architecture, but also creating an intimate shared space of embodied animal agency where dairy maids and cows “worked together” in close quarters.

Paper long abstract:

A central project of the German branch of the Economic Enlightenment was moving livestock production entirely into the human-built environment: so-called Sommerstallfütterung, or "summer stall-feeding" meant cattle were fed fodder crops like clover indoors instead of grazing in communal village herds. The majority of stalls were in farmhouses, meaning cattle were now next to living spaces day and night throughout the year. This intimacy, living together under one roof, was promoted even by very progressive agriculturalists like Pastor J.F. Mayer, who published plans for a prototypical peasant house, with the ground floor dedicated to cattle stalls and living quarters above. New architectural features like vaulted stone ceilings and ventilating chimneys were meant to prevent disease in confined animals, features often tested and shared with the public in model farms called "Swiss dairies" (Schweizerei) built by princes or estate owners, such as the Prince-Bishop of Bamberg, whose Schweizerei from 1782 still stands. Detailed architectural plans, receipts and inventories, as well as the Patriotic-Economic Societies' journals, give insight into this shared space. The cows' experience was now solely of the human-built environment, they were thus severely limited in vital social and resting behaviors, but could still be uncooperative by kicking the milk pail or trampling fodder. Caring for cattle became more intimate, as the mostly female dairy workers now hardly left the cramped stalls: feeding, grooming, milking, and removing manure in close proximity to the animals. Their shared work opens up interesting possibilities of praxeological "embodied agency" within the built environment.

Panel Mat04
Shared spaces: perspectives on animal architecture