New Report Explores Nation’s Breeds

DENMARK – The story of the development and importance of traditional livestock breeds is told in a new report from the National Centre for Food and Agriculture, University of Aarhus.
calendar icon 24 January 2013
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The legacy of Danish cattle and pigs like the Landrace is explored in the report. Traditional breeds made prosperity possible by supplying bacon and butter to British and other foreign markets.

As well as the interest historically there is still a commercial element to the report which considered the niche markets that still exist for traditional breeds and farming methods that can attract premiums. Conservation is vital, as old livestock genes may carry valuable combinations not present in modern, commercial livestock.

The 10,000 year evolution of Danish livestock farming is discussed. Imported livestock at the start of the nineteenth century improved local breeds which was how the Landrace pig arose as a speciality breed to cope with Danish conditions.

As communities begun to depend on livestock more, ideas about pedigree and breeding developed. Horns, markings and colour became used to distinguish prime animals and organise stock for certain applications and markets.

The purpose of the conservation of farm animal genetic resources is to ensure that genetic diversity is maintained so that livestock species also can be adapted to future production requirements. For example, climate change is expected to affect production conditions. Conservation of genetic resources is directed both against the old, historic racing and the modern breeds.

The report "Danish animal genetic resources, DCA Report No. 14, December 2012" can be downloaded here.

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