December 9, 2008
A few multi-purpose cows: milk, meat and draught
From top clockwise: canadianne, kärntner blondvieh,
aure et saint-girons, lourdais, and milking devon.
Diversity in cattle has diminished at a rapid rate over the past 100 years. Many breeds that fit in well on a small self-sufficient farm are now classified as rare breeds, or have disappeared altogether. Some like the pineywoods and dexter are making a comeback. Often these breeds were tough and bred for local conditions as well as utility. The uniformity of the super breeds may be well suited for industrial farming milieus, but like plant biodiversity, sustainable farms would do well to research and breed livestock that represent some of the oldest and most robust genes for ecological farming.