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Conservation of cattle genetic resources: the role of breeds

  • M. FELIUS (a1), B. THEUNISSEN (a2) and J. A. LENSTRA (a3)

Focusing on cattle (Bos taurus, Bos indicus), the present paper discusses the concept of the breed in the context of the dynamic history of livestock domestication. A breed categorization is proposed on the basis of how the breeds came into existence. The online Appendix (available at presents a survey of the cattle breeds of the world consisting of: (1) a list of breeds per country and then subdivided according to the proposed categories; (2) a list of breed names, including synonyms and translations, ordered according to a comprehensive breed classification; and (3) an alphabetical list of these names. The commonly accepted perceptions of breeds and how these are influenced by the nomenclature are described. Considering the history of breeds, it is argued that conservation of genetic diversity does not necessarily imply conservation of breeds. However, breeds are instrumental for the conservation of genetic diversity as independent genetic management units. These considerations may very well be extrapolated to other domestic species.

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