History & Utility of Livestock Breeds in the US
“Which breed(s) of livestock should I use?” This is an important question that is asked by all animal agriculture enterprises. Depending on the production goals and environmental limitations, this question has several answers and all of them can be correct. Breeds are defined as animals that, through selection and breeding, have come to resemble one another and pass those traits uniformly to their offspring. Most of the common breeds of livestock utilized in the US are not native to North America; as such these breeds of livestock were imported from many different regions around the world. Because of this, the physiological attributes and production characteristics vary greatly from one breed to the next. As livestock producers pursue improvement in their production systems, certain breeds are identified as best suited to fulfill those needs. Some breeds were developed as maternal breeds which excel in mothering ability, appropriate milk production, and fertility. While some breeds are highlighted for their paternal aspects of advanced growth rate, or exceptional carcass merit. The variation and utility of livestock breeds is very evident by studying the domestic goat breeds. Angora goats specialize in fiber production, in the form of mohair. South African Boar goats are known as a superior meat production breed, while the Saanen and Nubian breeds excel in milk production industries. All livestock breeds have a unique history, a specific place in current application, and a valuable future yet to be discovered.