Diversity 2011, 3(4), 660-692; doi:10.3390/d3040660
Review

On the Breeds of Cattle—Historic and Current Classifications

1 Mauritsstraat 167, Rotterdam 3012 CH, The Netherlands 2 Utrecht University, Yalelaan 2, Utrecht 3584 CM, The Netherlands The following members of the European Cattle Genetic Diversity Consortium contributed to the study: Austria: R. Baumung, S. Manatrinon, BOKU University, Vienna; Belgium: G. Mommens, University of Ghent, Merelbeke; Denmark: L.-E. Holm, Aarhus University, Tjele; K.B. Withen, B.V. Pedersen, P. Gravlund, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen; Estonia: H. Viinalass, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Tartu; Finland: J. Kantanen, I. Tapio, M.H. Li, MTT, Jokioinen; France: K. Moazami-Goudarzi, M. Gautier, Denis Laloë, INRA, Jouy-en-Josas; A. Oulmouden, H. Levéziel, INRA, Limoges; P. Taberlet, Université Joseph Fourier et CNRS, Grenoble; Germany: B. Harlizius, School of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover; H. Simianer, H. Täubert, Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen; G. Erhardt, O. Jann, C. Weimann, E.-M. Prinzenberg, Justus-Liebig Universität, Giessen; I. Medugorac, A. Medugorac, M. Förster, Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich; H.M. Mix, Naturschutz International, Grünheide; C. Looft, E. Kalm, Christian-Albrechts-Universität, Kiel; Ireland: D.G. Bradley, C.J. Edwards, D.E. MacHugh, A.R. Freeman, Trinity College, Dublin; Italy: P. Ajmone Marsan, R. Negrini, Università Cattolica del S. Cuore, Piacenza; M. Longeri, G. Ceriotti, M. Zanotti, Università degli Studi di Milano; D. Marletta, A. Criscione, Universita degli Studi di Catania, Catania; A. Valentini, C. Marchitelli, L. Pariset, M.C. Savarese, Università della Tuscia, Viterbo; F. Pilla, Università del Molise, Campobasso; Latvia: Z. Grislis, Latvia University of Agriculture, Jelgava; Lithuania: I. Miceikienė, Lithuanian Veterinary Academy, Kaunas; Netherlands: I.J. Nijman, Utrecht University; W. van Haeringen, L. van de Goor, Van Haeringen Laboratory, Wageningen; Norway: I. Olsaker, Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Oslo; Portugal: C. Ginja, L.T.Gama, Instituto Nacional de Recursos Biológicos—INIA, Lisbon University, Lisboa; L.T. Gama, Instituto Nacional de Recursos Biológicos-INIA, I.P., Vale de Santarem; J.C. Mateus, Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Vila Real; A. Beja-Pereira, N. Ferrand, Oporto University; Russia: Z. Ivanova, R. Popov, I. Ammosov, Yakutian Research Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Yakutsk, Sakha; T. Kiselyova, All-Russian Research Institute for Farm Animals and Breeding, St. Petersburgh-Pushkin; N. Marzanov, All-Russian Research Institute of Animal Husbandry, Dubrovitsy; Serbia: S. Stojanovic, Ministry of Agriculture and Water Management, Belgrade; Slovenia: M. Simčič, P. Dovč, D.Kompan, University of Ljubljana, Domzale; Spain: S. Dunner, Universidad Complutense de Madrid; C. Rodellar, I. Martín-Burriel, Veterinary Faculty, Zaragoza; A. Sánchez, J. Piedrafita, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona; P.J. Azor, J.V. Delgado, A. Martínez-Martínez, A. Molina, E. Rodero, University of Córdoba; Switzerland: G. Dolf, University of Berne; UK: J.L. Williams, P. Wiener, Roslin Institute; M.W. Bruford, T.C. Bray, Cardiff University, Cardiff; L. Alderson, Countrywide Livestock Ltd, Shrewsbury; USA: M.C.T. Penedo. University of California, Davis, CA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 September 2011; in revised form: 13 October 2011 / Accepted: 14 October 2011 / Published: 9 November 2011
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Abstract: Classification of cattle breeds contributes to our understanding of the history of cattle and is essential for an effective conservation of genetic diversity. Here we review the various classifications over the last two centuries and compare the most recent classifications with genetic data. The classifications devised during the 19th to the late 20th century were in line with the Linnaean taxonomy and emphasized cranial or horn morphology. Subsequent classifications were based on coat color, geographic origin or molecular markers. Several theories were developed that linked breed characteristics either to a supposed ancestral aurochs subspecies or to a presumed ethnic origin. Most of the older classifications have now been discarded, but have introduced several Latin terms that are still in use. The most consistent classification was proposed in 1995 by Felius and emphasizes the geographic origin of breeds. This is largely in agreement with the breed clusters indicated by a biochemical and molecular genetic analysis, which reflect either groups of breeds with a common geographic origin or single breeds that have expanded by export and/or crossbreeding. We propose that this information is also relevant for managing the genetic diversity of cattle.
Keywords: cattle; breeds; aurochs; classification

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MDPI and ACS Style

Felius, M.; Koolmees, P.A.; Theunissen, B.; European Cattle Genetic Diversity Consortium; Lenstra, J.A. On the Breeds of Cattle—Historic and Current Classifications. Diversity 2011, 3, 660-692.

AMA Style

Felius M, Koolmees PA, Theunissen B, European Cattle Genetic Diversity Consortium, Lenstra JA. On the Breeds of Cattle—Historic and Current Classifications. Diversity. 2011; 3(4):660-692.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Felius, Marleen; Koolmees, Peter A.; Theunissen, Bert; European Cattle Genetic Diversity Consortium; Lenstra, Johannes A. 2011. "On the Breeds of Cattle—Historic and Current Classifications." Diversity 3, no. 4: 660-692.

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