Seen a cow lately? Or a pig? How about sheep or chickens? If you live near a major city, it's probably been awhile since you've encountered livestock. But even if you live in the country, miles from the nearest freeway or shopping mall, you're probably seeing less livestock these days.
Farm animals are in decline worldwide. Out of approximately 4,000 breeds of domesticated animals, 1,000 breeds are seriously threatened with extinction. Every week another breed of workhorse, cattle, pig or variety of sheep or poultry follows the passenger pigeon, the blue pike and the wooly mammoth into oblivion.
In hard numbers, there's no shortage of livestock. More domesticated animals are being farmed in less space and with greater returns of meat, milk, eggs and wool than at any time in history. But the number of breeds of domesticated animals is much smaller than it was a century ago. The genetic diversity of farm animals is shrinking, and with it the ability to adapt to new climates, new diseases and new markets.
Continued at... Rare Breeds
by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1997. All rights reserved.
Artwork: Dexter Cow