On April 27th, 2015 we learned about

Extinction from the whims of supply and demand

Extinction caused by over hunting, loss of habitat, or a giant firey ball of doom from space all make sense. There was an animal, but now all of it’s kind have been killed, so they’re gone. But some animals be on the verge of extinction because we’ve lost interest in killing them (for food.) The trick is that instead of talking about a whole species being wiped out, we’re talking about breeds of domesticated animals, like pigs, turkeys and cows.

Growth of farms and diminishing diversity

These animals, as man-made breeds within naturally occurring species, were once more popular. Livestock used to be raised on smaller farms, and those farms would often concentrate on regional specialties, like Guinea hogs from the southeastern United States. But as farms became more industrialized, the variety of animals being raised was diminished. Instead of smaller farms with regional breeds, we now have fewer farms raising larger numbers of single breeds of animals.

This shift has led to some breeds no longer being raised in numbers sufficient for maintaining a healthy gene pool. For instance, there are less than 200 Choctaw hogs left in the world, which means that further reproduction will require more and more inbreeding, making the animals more susceptible to disease and development problems. While mating these animals with other breeds would help the health of the animals, it would also dilute the purity and uniqueness of the breed, effectively pushing them towards extinction from the other direction.

There have been some efforts to reverse this trend though. As word has gotten out, it’s raised interest from more people who might like to eat these hogs, turkeys and cows.¬†And in some cases were there might not be an immediate market to tap into, some farms are raising so-called ‘heritage’ breeds for traits like heartiness, or just to preserve the lineage. To that end, the United States Department of Agriculture has even stepped in, taking sperm samples¬†of animals to save for possible future use.

Source: These Animals Might Go Extinct Because No One Wants To Eat Them by Alastair Bland, The Salt

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