twitter RSS Feed linkedin acp contact

Livestock breeds in trouble of extinction

FoodTank report reveals that many of Africa's cattle breeds are under the threat of extiction

Ankole Watusi cattle Ezhuttukari African FarmingAnkole Watusi Cattle is one of the breeds facing extinction in the near future. (Image source: Ezhuttukari)

 The non-for-profit FoodTank, have recently released a list of 35 species which are about to become extinct. In addition to this, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), close to 17 per cent of the world’s livestock breeds face extinction. Many of these livestock breeds are indigenous, adapted to local conditions with long agricultural and pastoral traditions. Africa alone is home to more than 150 cataloged breeds of cattle. 

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) reports that up to 80 per cent of the agricultural GDP in developing countries comes from livestock; 600mn rural poor are dependent on livestock to feed themselves and their families. Poor farmers often raise indigenous breeds, managing herds both to maintain diversity and to support community livelihoods. This direct human involvement in cultivating agricultural biodiversity is “inherently linked to sustainable use,” according to the Convention on Biological Diversity. 

“Genetic diversity is a prerequisite for adaptation in the face of future challenges,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. A diverse population of livestock can spread risk across multiple levels. Not only do “local breeds have greater abilities to survive, produce, and maintain reproduction levels in harsh environments,” said Bertrand Dumont, researcher with the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, but they tend to be less cost-intensive to raise.

Irene Hoffmann, the head of FAO's Animal Genetic Resources Programme pointed out that in the face of challenges including climate change, disease, famine, drought and land degradation, diverse indigenous breeds of livestock could be of great importance for food security and to make food production more resilient. A more diverse set of genetic material could help farmers and breeders adapt and respond to the ever-changing world around them.

However, the global rise in meat consumption has driven a shift to industrial meat production. In the past 10 years, worldwide meat production has risen by 20 per cent. The FAO projects a 3.5 per cent global increase in poultry trade in 2016 alone. About 67 per cent of that poultry production comes from industrial animal operations or factory farms. And some 42 per cent of global pork production is from factory farms. 

Farming and pastoral communities, as well as many farmers’ organisations across the globe, are making an effort to promote the conservation and cultivation of indigenous breeds of livestock. The FAO reports an overall uptick in national investment in gene banks and information systems for the preservation of genetic material from livestock. 

Veterinarians Without Borders is currently working in Liberia, Uganda, and Ethiopia on programs that educate university students and smallholder farmers on animal husbandry techniques and human health. In sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands, the Turing Foundation offers grants and funding to support sustainable livestock and agricultural practices. Through its focus on holistic systems, the Africa Centre for Holistic Management encourages the use of livestock in land restoration and conservation projects through on-site training and education.


Intracare launches the world’s most eco-friendly hoof bandage

Intracare launches the world’s most eco-…

Intracare, developer and supplier of products for veterinary health and nutrition, has come up with the world’s most eco-friendly hoof bandage, which will be available worldwide

Nutreco receives grant to provide sustainable feed solutions for small-scale producers

Nutreco receives grant to provide sustai…

Nutreco, a global animal nutrition leader, has received a US$4.8mn grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate the implementation of localised, sustainable complete feed production in sub-Saharan...

Volatility: challenges in animal feeding

Volatility: challenges in animal feeding

As price volatility propels the use of alternative feed ingredients, Adisseo's team discusses how the quality of diets and the performance of animals can be maintained in such situations

Tackling transboundary animal diseases in Zimbabwe

Tackling transboundary animal diseases i…

To curb high impact transboundary animal diseases in Zimbabwe, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development launched the animal health...

Nuclear techniques help Zambia ensure safety in animal food products

Nuclear techniques help Zambia ensure sa…

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) are working with Zambian experts to address drug resistant microbes as well as food contamination in meat...

Evonik publishes first edition of animal diet

Evonik publishes first edition of animal…

Evonik, a German-based specialty chemicals company has published the first edition of the MetAMINO ATLAS displaying the results of 15 performance trials investigating the relative bioavailability of supplementary methionine sources...

Prev Next


New cattle breed to improve dairy fortune

New cattle breed to improve dairy fortun…

A new breed of cattle introduced from South Africa late last year could change the fortunes of Kenya’s dairy farmers

Small-scale dairy production: a way out of poverty

Small-scale dairy production: a way out …

 New study assesses global perspectives for smallholder milk production

Namibian cattle exports set to benefit local farmers

Namibian cattle exports set to benefit l…

The Namibian government is seeking to export cattle to Angola to keep livestock production in the country profitable, while improving the livelihoods of local farmers

Namibia’s strategy to support NCA livestock producers

Namibia’s strategy to support NCA livest…

A new strategy to be rolled out by the Namibian government is set to address the critical market shortage of livestock producers in the northern communal areas (NCAs)

MIAVIT opens new office in Kenya

MIAVIT opens new office in Kenya

German animal nutrition company, MIAVIT GmbH has now opened a new office and warehouse in Kenya to serve customers’ needs for quality nutritional products

FAO and OIE collaborate to curb animal disease

FAO and OIE collaborate to curb animal d…

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) will join forces to control the spread of animal disease to improve food safety and...

Sudan livestock exports nearly double in 2012

Sudan livestock exports nearly double in…

The Sudanese minister of livestock, fisheries and pastures, Faisal Hassan Ibrahim, has revealed that the country’s livestock exports rose by 96.6 per cent in 2012

Namibia sees a rise in cattle export

Namibia sees a rise in cattle export

A total of 315,198 cattle were exported from Namibia in 2017, as compared to 164 220 in 2016, said Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun, board chairperson of Meatco

Why East Africa is facing an animal feed ‘famine’

Why East Africa is facing an animal feed…

East Africa faces a growing deficit of animal feed owning to increased production of livestock products and urbanisation

Heifer International and Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture invest in livestock farmers

Heifer International and Rwandan Ministr…

Heifer International and the Rwanda Ministry of Agriculture have announced a partnership to invest more than US$10mn in livestock and training for 23,400 smallholder farming households

Ugandan President urges political leaders to encourage cattle rearing

Ugandan President urges political leader…

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has urged political leaders to support the country's farmers in rearing dairy cows to help increase agricultural households' income

USAID launches Cargill, Ausvet, Heifer International and IPC consortium

USAID launches Cargill, Ausvet, Heifer I…

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has tapped a consortium led by Cargill including Ausvet, Heifer International, and the International Poultry Council (IPC) to improve livestock management

Prev Next