According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, every week, the world loses two breeds of its valuable domestic animal diversity. In the past 100 years, the world has lost 1,000 breeds and more could follow if something is not done about the currently endangered farm animals.
The extinction of these livestock animals can have a negative impact on our food source. Here are some farm animals which have been listed as endangered or which scientists fear will soon be listed:
About 10 species of snails are endangered in the world today. One of the reasons for this is global warming. For instance, the Pleistocene snails thrive in unique weather conditions. They require temperatures below 50 degrees F in summer and above 14 degrees F in winter to survive. However, the rise in global temperatures constitutes a threat to their existence.
Factors such as pollution, waste dump, road building, livestock grazing pests and diseases, are destroying the habitats of snails. Snails are sensitive and easily absorb toxins from pesticides into their bodies.
Snails are important to the earth. They contribute to the food chain by eating fungi and leaf litter, and they in turn get eaten by fish and birds.
Snails can also determine the environmental state of a particular place. They don’t habitat just anywhere as they require specific moisture, shade, and decaying matter to survive. Their disappearance from an area indicates something negative about the environment.
Scientists are working towards saving snails from extinction. In Hawaii, Achatinella fuscobasis, a critically endangered snail, was brought into the University of Hawaii’s tree-snail captive – rearing facility. The purpose was to learn how to keep this species alive in the wild.
2. Holland Chicken:
In 1934, white eggs were more popular. They were believed to have a more delicate flavor and thus, they commanded premium prices. However, birds that lay white eggs were light-bodied and carried less meat. On the contrary, the birds that carried much meat laid brown eggs. The Rutgers Breeding Farm introduced selective breeding to create a bird that laid white eggs and had much meat.
The Holland Chicken was developed in Rutgers Breeding Farms in New Jersey. It was gotten from a cross of birds imported from Holland with White Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshires, and Lamonas. It was officially accepted by the American Poultry Association in 1949.
image credit: The Livestock Conservancy
The chicken comes in two colors; white and barred, with the barred one being the most popular. The Barred Holland was more popular than the white Holland, because it was a more difficult target for predators. The white Holland’s visible feathering gave it a disadvantage and thus, farmers bred the barred Holland more.
They start laying eggs from 16 – 20 weeks old and lay about 200 – 240 eggs per year. They’re good fliers. Holland chickens are medium sized and develop slowly, which is one of the reasons why they’re less preferred. The Livestock Conservancy listed the breed as a critically endangered species.
3. Beltsville Small White:
The Beltsville small white is a breed of domestic turkey. Consumers stated that they wanted turkey of small to medium size with no dark pinefeathers. This led to the creation of the Beltsville Small White.
The Beltsville center created the Beltsville Small White in a breeding program between 1934-1941. A combination of the following turkey varieties created the Beltsville Small White; Standard bronze, Broad breasted bronze, Charlevoix Bronze, White Holland, Narragansett, and White Austrian.
The American Poultry Association officially recognized the specie in 1951. They became very popular in the mid 50s and a census for breeding hens and toms in 1952 listed 588,225 Beltsville Small White turkeys. This made the Beltsville the most numerous white turkey at the time.
Beltsville had the ability to mate naturally, unlike the Broad Breasted White turkeys which required artificial insemination for reproduction. This made Beltsville a good option for breeding by small-scale producers.
Although the livestock was suitable for urban household use due to its small size, it was less received in restaurants and hotels. It was nearly extinct in the 1970s. It is still extremely rare today, and is considered America’s most endangered turkey variety.
4. Honey Bees:
There are over 20,000 species of bees but it is only the honey bee that makes honey. There are about 20,000 to 60,000 worker bees in a colony of honey bees. A worker bee visits about 50-100 flowers to collect pollen and nectar for pollination. The average worker bee produces 1/12 tablespoon of honey in her lifetime.
In 2007, beekeepers in America reported a Colony Collapse Disorder, a situation where thousands of hives were mysteriously empty. This led to a total of 23.2 % loss of honey bees nationwide. In 2016, 8 species of bees were flagged as endangered, excluding the honey bees.
Although the honey bees have not been flagged as endangered, scientists have warned that bees could be facing extinction due to factors such as diseases, parasites, global warming and the biggest threat, neonicotinoids.
Plants, animals, and humans depend on honey bees for survival one way or the other. Honey bees transfer pollen from male stamens to female pistils. They’re responsible for reproduction among plants. Therefore, if honey bees go extinct, it would affect crop production, which would in turn affect herbivorous animals and humans.
The extinction of honey bees could cause a threat to people’s food source. Therefore, it is important to ensure that they never get on the “endangered” list. Some of the ways to do so are; eliminating the use of neonicotinoids and other harmful pesticides, supporting local beekeepers, protecting bee habitat, and planting bee friendly crops.
Have any suggestions on how to preserve these farm animals? Let us know in the comments section below.