What do you think of when you hear the word extinction? The Dinosaurs, The Dodo or perhaps The Quagga?
The extinction of wildlife is always at the forefront of any discussion of what humans are doing to this world. However there is another extinction threat...the extinction of domestic breeds of livestock, fowl and plants.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports there are over 4000 breeds of domestic livestock and birds in the world today and 1/3 of these are in danger of disappearing. Statistics report that over 1000 domestic breeds have become extinct in the past 100 years. Modern agriculture has lost 190 breeds in the past 15 years.
40% of American Sheep are just one Breed...Suffolk!
85% of dairy cattle in the USA are Holstein and the use of Artificial Insemination to top milking Sires narrows the gene pool of the commercial Dairy herd to even more dangerous levels.
96% of the commercial vegetable varieties available in 1903 are now extinct.
99% of all turkeys raised in the U.S. are Broad-Breasted Whites, a single turkey breed specially developed to have a meaty breast. These turkey's are such extreme meat producer's they cannot breed naturally and have to be Artificially Insemination to lay fertile eggs.
(Photo credit: INSADCO Photography/Alamy)
60% of beef cattle are made up of just three breeds, Angus, Simmental and Hereford.
This fact is misleading by the breeding of "Black Simmental"..to get black Simmental you have to crossbreed them with Angus.
The marketing of Angus beef as the best of all beef has encouraged the narrowing of the Beef gene pool in ways we have not fully realized.....cross breeding to upgrade other "PURE" breeds has given rise to Black Cattle in all breeds.
Charolais are a White breed Imported from France...often marketed as "The Great White Way" they now come in....BLACK! To get this black Charolais there is an infusion of Angus genetics.
Mono culture is unhealthy and limiting food production to such a low number of breeds is a ticking time bomb, some of which is being seen in the Industrial Swine industry as I type, modern pork is raised in close housing and when disease sweeps through a modern hog barn it is catastrophic. The narrow genetic pool means an incredibly high percentage of modern swine has the same weakness for disease. This is evident with the current outbreak of PEDv [Porcine epidemic Diarrhea virus] that has killed 10% of the US pork supply.
Ideal Market Swine
The recent interest in rare breeds promoted by organizations like The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is helping save some of the genetic treasures of bio diversity 'OLD' agriculture has produced and used.
I hope I have given the term extinction a new face, one that is right there in the local countryside. We can all do our part....from heirloom vegetables to Mulefoot hogs, Pineywoods cattle to Royal Palm turkey's. Choose the old and rare, keep Agricultural extinction at bay!