Animal production in US agriculture during 1997 was compared with Holmes County, Ohio, in which half the farms belonged to the agrarian Amish whose small farms have been successful. To compare the intensity of animal production in regard to land that was already devoted solely to domestic feed, the two systems were scaled so that their average farm sizes contained equal land areas devoted to domestic feed and then their animal production per farm was adjusted by the same scaling. By breeding populations, as well as large imports of feed, feeder pigs, calves, and broiler chicks. Holmes County produced three times more milk, four times more broilers, about the same amount of eggs and cattle, and twice the pigs per scaled farm, and hence per given land area, as in the US. Despite the average farm size in Holmes County having been 40% smaller than in Ohio overall, this production yielded more than twice the energy and protein per scaled farm, or per given land area, compared to the US, and required almost twice the feed and 85% as much grazed pasture forage per farm. This was in accord with the fact that feed consumption in Holmes County was twice its harvested crop production, implying a net feed import equal to its crop production. The latter fact was the main contribution to the productivity of Holmes County in excess of the US, and also suggested there would be serious problems in widespread adoption of intensive animal production in regard to agricultural markets, soil fertility and farm nutrient losses through manure application. Energy conversion efficiency for the five animal products and breeding populations was greater in Holmes County than the US (10 and 7%, respectively) and likewise for protein (22 and 13%). Besides imported feed, the higher efficiency of Holmes County was also due to its greater emphasis on milk production, which has benefited from USDA milk price support, modern dairy genetics and dairy nutrition programs. The lower overall efficiency of the US has been partly a result of the fact that beef production and breeding, judged by feed alone, have been the least efficient of the five animal products in energy conversion and nearly the least for protein, regardless of the fact that among the five products, beef cattle are the only animals that nationally derived much of their nutrition from the large national area of grazing land.