Understanding Livestock Breeds

I have never met a person in North America who did not know what a Labrador Retriever looked like, or a German Shepherd. It’s a pretty well-understood concept that these are two distinctly different types of dog. They look different, and they’re used for different purposes. Most people know that a Lab is a common companion and hunting dog. German Shepherds are popular companions, but are also iconic as police dogs. This is just a concept that society understands well. Dogs come in different breeds that look, behave, and move differently. To some extent, people understand this about cats, horses and other types of animal. However, the average everyday person does not generally grasp this concept in relation to livestock.

In the past, I wrote a post highlighting the aesthetic differences between beef and dairy cattle, and some of the “how” and “why” of their appearances. I had forgotten about that post, until another conversation came up on Twitter today about explaining the differences between dairy and beef cattle. This thought process then transitioned in the statement that it doesn’t just happen in cattle. Most animals that are raised for purposes other than companionship tend to just be lumped together by species. A cow is a cow, a pig is a pig, a rabbit is a rabbit, and all chickens are created equal.

Wrong. Continue reading