The subject of this Roundtable is Breed Conservation, and that in itself poses the first problem, viz, what is a breed? Turton (1974) proposed that a breed should be defined as "A homogeneous, sub-specific group of domestic livestock with definable and identifiable external characters that enable it to be separated by visual appraisal from other similarly defined groups within the same species, or a homogeneous group where geographical separation from pheno- typically similar groups has led to general acceptance of its separate identity"

For some livestock species in some countries of Asia, this definition is quite acceptable. For example, the cattle breeds of the Indian subcontinent are well-defined and described (Joshi and Phillips 1953). However, in many countries, breeds have not been recognized or defined for the endemic livestock populations. The swamp buffalo of Asia comprise a number of geographically separate populations, but all are phenotypically similar. There has been no general acceptance of separate identities of these populations, and they are not described as different breeds. Are they in any way genetically distinct, and if so, how distinct? Should they be considered as comprising a single breed? In another case, Hardjosubroto and Astuti (1980) stated that there are four kinds (breeds) of native duck in Indonesia, viz. Alabio, Tegal, Bali and Manila (Muscovy). Yet in Java, local populations (all ostensibly Tegal) often are identified by the name of the town or area where they are found, and are considered different from other such local populations. Tegal ducks strictly only comprise those found around the town of Tegal on the north coast of Java. Hetzel (1982) has noted that at least some of these Javanese populations are morphologically distinct, and thus they appear to be partially isolated breeding populations. However, should they be called breeds or simply varieties of the Tegal breed? If they are completely, or at least largely genetically isolated from one another, and genetically distinct, they should surely be defined as different breeds.

J. SF Barker

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 6. Round tables, , 117-122, 1982
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