The Encyclopedia of Historic and Endangered Livestock and Poultry Breeds


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Janet Vorwald Dohner

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The hardy, multipurpose Dominique chickens that came to the New World with the Pilgrims and later traveled in pioneer saddlebags to help settle the West were once too numerous to count; by 1990 a mere 500 hens survived. This is but a single example of the diminishing diversity of farm animals: half of once-common livestock breeds are endangered, others are already extinct.

The need to preserve farm animal diversity is increasingly urgent, says the author of this definitive book on endangered breeds of livestock and poultry. Farmyard animals may hold critical keys for our survival, Jan Dohner warns, and with each extinction, genetic traits of potentially vital importance to our agricultural future or to medical progress are forever lost.

This comprehensive book features:
• complete information on the history, characteristics, qualities, and traits of 138 endangered livestock breeds (goats, sheep, swine, cattle, horses, other equines) and 53 poultry breeds (chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese)
• where these breeds may be seen today
• the degree of rarity of each breed in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada
• information on feral livestock populations
• 160 color photographs and over 80 black and white photos and historical illustrations

Janet Vorwald Dohner is a librarian and researcher who has raised horses, goats, livestock dogs, and chickens, including the very rare Dominique and Delaware breeds, on her farm in Michigan.

“Dohner makes a valuable contribution to the argument that rare breeds of domestic farm animals are just as important to preserve as wild species.”—Lyle G. McNeal, founding director, Navajo Sheep Project

“[Dohner’s] engaging book testifies to the importance of saving the biodiversity of domestic animals.”—Science

“A volume of impressive detail and sweeping scope, Ms. Dohner’s book is a persuasive argument against the destruction of our agricultural genetic heritage. It is a welcome American companion to Alderson’s The Chance to Survive and deserves the term ‘encyclopedic’.”—Hans Peter Jorgensen, Iowa Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area

“The Encyclopedia’s wide survey of endangered farm animals should be ranked with Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. While Ms. Dohner is not devoting many pages to preaching or lecturing us, the sheer numbers and obvious merits of the breeds she mentions make a powerful call for our attention and for action.”—Stephen Green-Armytrage, author of Extraordinary Chickens

“An encyclopedic coverage of rare and heritage breeds is very ambitious, but the author has achieved great success in the coverage of most British and North American breeds. The extensive bibliography gives testimony to the prodigious research that has gone into this work. The author’s style engaged me fully as I found myself drawn into the many wonderful breed histories that are so much a reflection of our culture. This book will be welcomed by all those who recognize the genetic and cultural treasure these breeds represent.”—Donald E. Bixby, DVM, Executive Director, American Livestock Breeds Conservancy  

“Most educated people know about the decline of wild biodiversity, but few are aware of the parallel tragedy in breeds of livestock. This fine book will help to correct that and also provide an important resource for all of those concerned with the future of animal agriculture.”—Paul R. Ehrlich, co-author of Wild Solutions, Bing Professor of population studies and President of the Center for Conservation Biology, Stanford University; Author of Human Natures: Genes, Cultures, and the Human Prospect

“Dohner has researched her subject thoroughly, drawing from a wide variety of published resources as well as her contacts with breed organizations in the United States, Canada, and Britain. She excels at drawing out relevant and interesting breed histories, physical descriptions, and, if known, a breed’s current status. . . . Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“Dohner’s encyclopedia presents a short history of domestication and provides an exhaustively researched resource about endangered breeds of domestic animals. . . . A comprehensive work, it supplies information not in other sources or in one volume. . . . This book provides detailed information for livestock specialists or researchers. Essential (but affordable) for any school with agricultural or related programs.”—Choice

"This title presents the wealth of diversity hidden behind the cloned landscape. It is an authoritative and fascinating exploration of the breeds of cows, pigs, sheep, goats, horses, and fowl that once were plentiful. . . . In the same way that a coffee-table travel book piques interest among armchair travelers, this wonderful volume may inspire greater interest in the amazing variety of animals that once characterized life on the farm."—Kim Long, The Bloomsbury Review

“This handsome book . . . contains a wealth of information. . . . Dohner has provided a book that is important reading for poultry scientists. . . . As a graduate student, a professor suggested to me that there was much to learn about style from reading the works of authors who have a way with the written word. Dohner would be a fine model. To write an encyclopedia that is a fun read is no small accomplishment.”—Paul B. Siegel, Poultry Science

“This unique one-volume encyclopedia covers the rare and endangered farm animals of the world. . . . [It] provides extensive information on each breed. History, geography, information about food products from each are covered, and much more. Although it will be valuable in academic libraries where agricultural programs are covered, the writing is clear and it would be useful in other types of libraries as well. This resource is highly recommended.”—American Reference Books Annual 2003

“I love this book and want to shout, “Bravo! Janet Vorwald Dohner has done an exquisite job!” This beautiful, if understatedly designed, volume is a treasure.”—Deborah Robson, Spin-Off

“A magnificent, well-illustrated book. . . . This is a wonderful book and it should fascinate anyone interested in their environment and the domestication of the wild, which has enabled human life to flourish and now threatens the very organism that allowed that to occur.”—Samuel H. Sage, Central New York Environment
ISBN: 9780300088809
Publication Date: February 8, 2002
560 pages, 8 x 11
80 b/w + 160 color illus.
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