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Suggested Citation:"Part I Microbreeds." National Research Council. 1991. Microlivestock: Little-Known Small Animals with a Promising Economic Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1831.
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Page15
Suggested Citation:"Part I Microbreeds." National Research Council. 1991. Microlivestock: Little-Known Small Animals with a Promising Economic Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1831.
×
Page16

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Part ~ Microbreeds Cattle, goats, sheep, and pigs supply millions of people around the world with the bulk of their cash and animal products. Yet scores of breeds-especially in the tropics-are left out of livestock development projects merely because they are considered too small. These "microbreeds"' have sometimes been considered genetic dead ends because they appear undersized and puny. Many of these traditional animals some in local use for thousands of years are disappearing, nr1 ~.ve.n the Small ancestors of large modern breeds are becoming extinct. These small breeds deserve to be studied and developed in their own right. Throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America, these usually hardy animals are especially adapted to traditional husbandry practices and harsh local conditions. Some have remarkable qualities and are well adapted to resist hostile weather, ravaging pestilence, and poor diets. In remote places and in areas of extreme climate, they are often vitally important for basic subsistence. Indeed, because of stress or disease, or insufficient forage, land, or money, microbreeds may be the only practical livestock in many settings. Their individual output may be low, but it can be efficient considering the lack of care and poor feeds they are given. Their availability and the growing number of small-sized farms in the developing world make them increasingly worthy of consideration. The following chapters in this section describe microcattle, micro- goats, microsheep, and micropigs. ' A term used in this report to characterize cattle. goats sheep and pigs that are less than about half the size of selectively bred types. 15

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Microlivestock is a term coined for species that are inherently small as well as for breeds of cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs that are less than about half the size of the most common breeds. These miniature animals are seldom considered in the broad picture of livestock development, but they seem to have a promising future, especially in developing nations or wherever land is scarce.

This book raises awareness of the potential of these small species, including microcattle, microsheep, various poultry, rabbits, rodents, deer, antelope, and lizards. It also strives to stimulate their introduction into animal research and economic development programs.

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