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The Encyclopedia of Historic and Endangered Livestock and Poultry Breeds

The Encyclopedia of Historic and Endangered Livestock and Poultry Breeds

Janet Vorwald Dohner
Copyright Date: 2001
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 560
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  • Book Info
    The Encyclopedia of Historic and Endangered Livestock and Poultry Breeds
    Book Description:

    The hardy, multipurpose Dominique chickens that came to the New World with the Pilgrims and later traveled in pioneer saddlebags to help settle the West were once too numerous to count; by 1990 a mere 500 hens survived. This is but a single example of the diminishing diversity of farm animals: half of once-common livestock breeds are endangered, others are already extinct.The need to preserve farm animal diversity is increasingly urgent, says the author of this definitive book on endangered breeds of livestock and poultry. Farmyard animals may hold critical keys for our survival, Jan Dohner warns, and with each extinction, genetic traits of potentially vital importance to our agricultural future or to medical progress are forever lost.This comprehensive book features:• complete information on the history, characteristics, qualities, and traits of 138 endangered livestock breeds (goats, sheep, swine, cattle, horses, other equines) and 53 poultry breeds (chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese)• where these breeds may be seen today• the degree of rarity of each breed in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada• information on feral livestock populations• 160 color photographs and over 80 black and white photos and historical illustrations

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13813-9
    Subjects: Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. viii-xi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xii-xiii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
  5. Abbreviations and Symbols
    (pp. xv-1)
  6. CHAPTER ONE Rare on the Farm
    (pp. 2-7)

    Change has come so completely and so pervasively to agriculture in the past half-century that it is now hard to imagine the relationship between humans and their animals as it existed in the first half of the twentieth century and for thousands of years past. In order to survive, people once bound their lives intimately with their animals. Food, clothing, transportation— all were provided by animals.

    In different geographic areas, farmers developed and raised livestock suited to their ecosystem, husbandry practices, needs, and culture. Hundreds of native types of livestock flourished, each uniquely appropriate to its people and place. Migrations,...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Humans and Animals
    (pp. 8-19)

    People have kept wild animals as pets far back into prehistory. Among aboriginal peoples of today, women often rescue orphaned young animals and nurture them like human babies, and children have them as playmates. They are treated kindly and indulged until they become uncontrollable or dangerous. Religion was also closely connected with animals both as powerful totems or hoped for prey. The images of animals are seen in the earliest prehistoric records on caves and rocks. In addition, some nomadic peoples came to follow the rhythms of migratory herding animals such as the reindeer.

    The dates of actual domestication are...

    (pp. 20-63)

    The goat belongs to the order Artiodactyla, the even-toed hoofed mammals, and the family Bovidae, which includes cattle, sheep, goats, and antelopes. All bovids have horns and are ruminants. Goats, sheep, and their confusing relatives belong to the subfamily or tribe Caprini.

    Bovids appeared in the early Miocene in the Old World about twenty-five million years ago. This family successfully diversified into some one hundred different types with many amazing horn variations. Roughly half of these types survive today, including those descended from theTossunnoria.Physically resembling the modern European Chamois, theTossunnoriawas a large animal very much like...

    (pp. 64-159)

    More than a billion domesticated sheep inhabit the world today, and they are found in hundreds of breeds. The greatest numbers are in Asia, especially in the cradle of their domestication. Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Europe, and the former Soviet Union are all rich in sheep. There are some 31 million sheep in England and Wales, 10 million in Scotland, and 2.5 million in Ireland. The United States and Canada bring up the tail end of this list with 9 million and 1 million sheep, respectively.

    Australia dominates the world’s wool market, followed by the former Soviet Union, New Zealand,...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Swine
    (pp. 160-199)

    The lowly, often maligned pig has probably fed more people throughout history than any other livestock animal. The world today is populated by some 825 million domestic pigs, and that number continues to grow to meet the increasing needs of the human population. At the same time, the numbers of different pig breeds are steadily decreasing, mainly due to the narrow choices the swine industry is making in breed stock. In the United States, more than 85 million hogs are marketed each year, yet all the minor breeds together register only about 25,000 pigs. In Britain, some 7 million pigs...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Cattle
    (pp. 200-293)

    The bovines (order Artiodactyla, family Bovidae) are descended from a large cattlelike antelope namedLeptobosthat was somewhat similar to today’s wildebeests and elands. With horns that grew forward,Leptoboslooked much like a lightly built ox and was a transitional animal between antelopes and cattle. The Aurochs, the Bison, and the Water buffalo of Asia can all trace their lineage toLeptobosand its Pliocene relatives. African buffaloes appear to be more distantly related.

    The bovine subfamily includes the bison,Bosor cattle, water buffaloes, the African buffalo, the Nigali, and some interesting antelopes. Because cattle are closely related...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN Equines
    (pp. 294-401)

    Most schoolchildren learn the theorized evolution of the horse beginning with tinyEohippus,the Dawn horse, more correctly known asHyraeotherium,which appeared fifty to sixty million years ago, and evolving through the millennia to modernEquus. Yet the evolutionary story of the horse is a much more complex tale.

    With four toes on the front and three on the rear, tinyEohippusleft fossil remains that have been uncovered in North America, Britain, continental Europe, and eastern Asia.Eohippuswould evolve through many branching species to becomeEquus,yet many divergent lines would also develop only to become extinct....

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT Poultry
    (pp. 402-475)

    Approximately 11 billion chickens populate the planet. It would be impossible to count them all—from the small flocks scratching a living outside village dwellings to the thousands bred in huge industrial complexes. They are all, however, every one, directly related to one ancestor, the Red junglefowl (Gallus gallus) of southern and southeastern Asia.

    Genetic typing reveals valuable information about the origins and relationships of domestic animal breeds. By comparing subtle differences in the DNA of mitochondria from a broad variety of chickens and wild fowl, researchers have determined that all chicken breeds share a common ancestor that is genetically...

  14. CHAPTER NINE Preserving a Future
    (pp. 476-486)

    The history of humans and their domesticated animals reveals their interdependency and the sense of stewardship this special relationship engenders. Each breed’s story illustrates specific agricultural, scientific, ecological, recreational, historical, and cultural reasons to conserve this domestic animal diversity. The loss of any of these breeds would diminish a biological wealth and heritage that has developed over thousands of years. Any loss would diminish the richness of life itself.

    Some of these endangered or historic breeds offer resistance to future potential threats from disease or to today’s genetic problems confronting production stock. Others offer real value in alternate methods of...

  15. APPENDIX ONE Selected Organizations and Journals
    (pp. 487-489)
  16. APPENDIX TWO Where to See Rare and Historical Breeds
    (pp. 490-492)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 493-496)
  18. Index
    (pp. 497-514)