Cover image for The encyclopedia of historic and endangered livestock and poultry breeds
The encyclopedia of historic and endangered livestock and poultry breeds
Dohner, Janet Vorwald, 1951-
Publication Information:
New Haven : Yale University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xii, 514 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 29 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
SF105.275.U6 D65 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Reference

On Order



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

Author Notes

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.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Why save the old, endangered breeds of livestock and poultry? Most would agree that maintaining genetic diversity is crucial, but there are other reasons as well. A librarian and researcher who raises rare Dominique and Delaware chickens, Dohner makes her case in this unique new reference. The encyclopedia discusses the merits of breed conservation and profiles nearly 200 individual breeds of livestock (goats, sheep, swine, cattle, horses, and other equines) and poultry (chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese). The specific breeds chosen are based on national priority lists, the historic importance of the breed, or its conservation success. The breed profiles are preceded by detailed sections on the natural history, domestication, and husbandry of that livestock species. The profiles are not arranged alphabetically but in historical and geographical context within the chapters on general animal groups (cows, swine, etc.), so it is necessary to use the index for quick lookups of particular breeds. 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 (vulnerable, rare, critical, etc.). There are approximately 250 illustrations, including a 32-page section of color plates. While historic breeds like the Texas Longhorn, Clydesdale, and Rhode Island Red are immediately recognizable, many more are not. How many readers have seen or even heard of the Clun Forest sheep, American Cream draft horse, Dutch Belted cow, or Silver Appleyard duck? This encyclopedia may be a little pricey for libraries on modest budgets but should be well worth the money based on likely interest and use. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. William H. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Part of the "Yale Agrarian Studies Series," Dohner's encyclopedia presents a short history of domestication and provides an exhaustively researched resource about endangered breeds of domestic animals. Chapters on humans and animals report current theories about why six species (dogs, sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, and equines) could be domesticated but others could not, and examines reasons why rare breeds should be preserved, including genetic diversity and ecological issues of factory farms that use a single breed. A comprehensive work, it supplies information not in other sources or in one volume. Included are breed descriptions and standards, special adaptive characteristics and behaviors, an overview of associations, an evaluation of US, Canadian, and British populations, and the population outlook. Excellent illustrations, primarily black-and-white photographs, are included where available, as well as some 150 color plates. Text boxes treat word etymologies, related animal myths, and breed terms. Not intended for casual readers, this book provides detailed information for livestock specialists or researchers. Essential (but affordable) for any school with agricultural or related programs. A. B. Johnson SUNY College at Cortland