Subdivision of an animal species that has been domesticated by humans for breeding and selection. According to the rural code, a breed is considered as local if sufficient links with a specific territory are demonstrated, in particular if 30% of workforce is located in a single department or 70% in three departments neighbouring two by two.
Individuals that belong to the same breed have similar genotypic and phenotypic characteristics. When these characteristics develop to become accustomed to a defined environment, then this is referred to as native breed. This native breed is adapted to the soil and climate conditions and sanitary environment of its own defined geographical area.
Breed management is organized by breeding organizations. These cooperative mechanisms bring together multiple participants (breeders, breeding centres, development organizations, scientists, local and regional authorities) around a common project, in this case the sustainability and improvement of animal populations.
Having been abandoned for the benefit of breeds considered more productive, some native breeds are now being preserved. Others, on the contrary, have been maintained and developed thanks to their integration into different channels for the valorisation of products, for instance, with labels of quality.
In highly constrained environments, the use of a native breed is interesting to ensure a good adaptability of the herd to external conditions. Indeed, if it is adapted to the environment, the native breed is capable of facing strong soil, climatic, or sanitary constraints without compromising its production capacities.
References to explore
Hiemstra, S. J., De Haas, Y., Mäkit-Tanila, A., & Gandini, G. 2010. Local cattle breeds in Europe: development of policies and strategies for self-sustaining breeds. Wageningen Academic Publishers. http://dx.doi.org/10.3920/978-90-8686-697-7
Mendelsohn, R. 2003. The challenge of conserving indigenous domesticated animals. Ecological Economics, 45(3), 501-510.
Verrier, E., Tixier-Boichard, M., Bernigaud, R., & Naves, M. 2005. Conservation and value of local livestock breeds: usefulness of niche products and/or adaptation to specific environments. Animal Genetic Resources/Resources génétiques animales/Recursos genéticos animales, 36, 21-31.