Uniquely selected breeds bred over thousands of years of domestication in a wide range of environments have been declared extinct over the last century. Still more breeds are at risk of becoming extinct and the rate continues to accelerate. Assessing the current status and possible future dynamics of livestock breeds is therefore a critical step in the management of Animal Genetic Resources (AnGR). This study applies a qualitative approach to comprehensively analyze cattle genetic resources in selected countries in order to better understand the risk status of cattle breeds and those that need to be considered extinct and/or quasi-extant.
The status of each breed, i.e.
, not at risk, critical, endangered and extinct, was verified using information available at the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS) web site, as well as cattle statistics (where available) and a breed survey. In most examples, breeds listed as extinct have played important roles in the development of new breeds, and should not be classified as extinct, unless proven otherwise, given that even breeds existing in vivo
are developing. Therefore, a new risk status quasi-extant
for this category of cattle breeds is suggested. In addition, based on the findings of this study, the concept of breed needs to be questioned as relates to it being a good measure of genetic diversity. Further investigations of the situation of cattle breeds (and other livestock species) in more countries/continents using similar categories are deemed necessary.