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Farm Animals

 

Barbados Blackbelly Sheep

(Ovis aries)

 

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Conservation-Status-Chart.png

Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)[1]

Scientific classification

Breed Facts

Status:
Recovering

Use:
Meat

Adult Weight:
85 - 130 lbs

Temperament:
Alert, Docile

Experience Level:
Novice -Intermediate

Notes:
Prolific, polled hair sheep

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8-12 eggs

Incubation Period: 22-23 days

 

 

 

The Barbados Blackbelly breed originally developed on the West Indies island of Barbados from hair sheep brought in by African slave traders during the 1600s. In 1904, the USDA imported four ewes and a ram to Bethesda, Maryland. Over the years, offspring from this original flock, plus sheep imported from Mexico and South America, established additional “colonies” across the U.S., particularly in Texas. Because the Barbados Blackbelly is a small-framed sheep, the USDA crossed it with Rambouillet and then European Mouflon to develop a larger meat sheep while retaining the no-shear hair coat and the breed’s prolificacy, disease resistance, and parasite tolerance. This cross has been a wellspring from which many significant breeds of sheep have evolved. Perhaps none is more dramatic and popular than the American Blackbelly.

Several years ago, a number of Barbados Blackbelly breeders began to selectively breed the Barbados Blackbelly to purge the characteristics of the two crosses and to return the breed to its original color conformation and characteristics. It was only then that breeders realized the critical state the breed was in. The 2004 census indicated that there were fewer than 200 Barbados Blackbelly remaining in the U.S. Of those, fewer than a half dozen were breeding rams.

Through a cooperative breeding effort, by 2007 the census has doubled, but the U.S. population is far from recovered. With such a small genetic base and fewer than a dozen breeders, the breed remains endangered in the U.S. and desperately needs more conscientious breeders to help in the recovery effort.

In contrast, the population of the American Blackbelly probably exceeds 100,000. Exact numbers are unavailable because so many flocks roam wild across Texas rangelands. The American Blackbelly’s popularity was accelerated in the 1970s when the trophy hunting industry included it in their sportsman’s “grand slam” package.

Although the American Blackbelly retains the dramatic markings of the Barbados Blackbelly, it is the presence of a pair of magnificent horns on the ram that separates it visually from its parent breed. The horned American Blackbelly is known throughout much of the country by various names, including “Barbado” and “Corsican.” These regional names often are used to describe similar breeds in which the black belly is absent. The close similarity of American Blackbelly and Barbados Blackbelly leads to frequent misidentification, contributing to the near demise of the latter. In 2005, the BBSAI decided to clear up the confusion and to recognize and record this remarkable animal by giving it a distinct and meaningful name, American Blackbelly, and a permanent, unmistakable identity in the form of a separate breed standard.

Because of the much broader genetic base of the American Blackbelly, they are much easier to obtain than the rare Barbados Blackbelly. The breeder of American Blackbellies has innumerable markets for which to select and improve his breeding animals, from pets to prolific meat sheep.

Donkey or Ass

(Equus africanus asinus)

 

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The donkey has been used as a working animal for at least 5000 years. There are more than 40 million donkeys in the world, mostly in underdeveloped countries, where they are used principally as draught or pack animals. Working donkeys are often associated with those living at or below subsistence levels. Small numbers of donkeys are kept for breeding or as pets in developed countries.

A male donkey or ass is called a jack, a female a jenny or jennet; a young donkey is a foal. Jack donkeys are often used to mate with female horses to produce mules; the biological "reciprocal" of a mule, from a stallion and jenny as its parents instead, is called a hinny.

Asses were first domesticated around 3000 BC, probably in Egypt or Mesopotamia, and have spread around the world. They continue to fill important roles in many places today. While domesticated species are increasing in numbers, the African wild ass is a critically endangered species. As beasts of burden and companions, asses and donkeys have worked together with humans for millennia.

At one time, the synonym ass was the more common term for the donkey. The first recorded use of donkey was in either 1784 or 1785. While the word ass has cognates in most other Indo-European languages, donkey is an etymologically obscure word for which no credible cognate has been identified. Hypotheses on its derivation include the following:

  • Perhaps from Spanish, for its don-like gravity; the donkey was also known as "the King of Spain's trumpeter"

  • Perhaps a diminutive of dun (dull grayish-brown), a typical donkey color.

  • Perhaps from the name Duncan.

  • Perhaps of imitative origin.

The loud call or bray of the donkey, which typically lasts for twenty seconds and can be heard for over three kilometres, may help keep in contact with other donkeys over the wide spaces of the desert. Donkeys have large ears, which may pick up more distant sounds, and may help cool the donkey's blood. Donkeys can defend themselves by biting, striking with the front hooves or kicking with the hind legs. Their vocalization, called a bray, is an "E" /ˈi/ followed by an "ah" /ˈɑː/.

They may have a lifespan of 30 to 50 years.

Donkeys have a notorious reputation for stubbornness, but this has been attributed to a much stronger sense of self-preservation than exhibited by horses. Likely based on a stronger prey instinct and a weaker connection with humans, it is considerably more difficult to force or frighten a donkey into doing something it perceives to be dangerous for whatever reason. Once a person has earned their confidence they can be willing and companionable partners and very dependable in work.

Although formal studies of their behavior and cognition are rather limited, donkeys appear to be quite intelligent, cautious, friendly, playful, and eager to learn.

The first donkeys came to the Americas on ships of the Second Voyage of Christopher Columbus, and were landed at Hispaniola in 1495. The first to reach North America may have been two animals taken to Mexico by Juan de Zumárraga, the first bishop of Mexico, who arrived there on 6 December 1528, while the first donkeys to reach what is now the United States may have crossed the Rio Grande with Juan de Oñate in April 1598. From that time on they spread northward, finding use in missions and mines. Donkeys were documented as present in what today is Arizona in 1679. By the Gold Rush years of the 19th century, the burro was the beast of burden of choice of early prospectors in the western United States. With the end of the placer mining boom, many of them escaped or were abandoned, and a feral population established itself.

The Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS) of the FAO listed 189 breeds of ass in June 2011.

In 2000 the number of breeds of donkey recorded worldwide was 97.

About 41 million donkeys were reported worldwide in 2006.

The donkey has been used as a working animal for at least 5000 years. Of the more than 40 million donkeys in the world, about 96% are in underdeveloped countries, where they are used principally as pack animals or for draught work in transport or agriculture. After human labor, the donkey is the cheapest form of agricultural power. They may also be ridden, or used for threshing, raising water, milling and other work. Working donkeys are often associated with those living at or below subsistence levels. Some cultures that prohibit women from working with oxen in agriculture do not extend this taboo to donkeys, allowing them to be used by both sexes.

In developed countries where their use as beasts of burden has disappeared, donkeys are used to sire mules, to guard sheep, for donkey rides for children or tourists, and as pets. Donkeys may be pastured or stabled with horses and ponies, and are thought to have a calming effect on nervous horses. If a donkey is introduced to a mare and foal, the foal may turn to the donkey for support after it has been weaned from its mother.

A few donkeys are milked or raised for meat. Approximately 3.5 million donkeys and mules are slaughtered each year for meat worldwide. In Italy, which has the highest consumption of equine meat in Europe and where donkey meat is the main ingredient of several regional dishes, about 1000 donkeys were slaughtered in 2010, yielding approximately 100 tonnes of meat. Asses' milk may command good prices: the average price in Italy in 2009 was €15 per litre, and a price of €6 per 100 ml was reported from Croatia in 2008; it is used for soaps and cosmetics as well as dietary purposes. The niche markets for both milk and meat are expanding. In the past, donkey skin was used in the production of parchment. In 2017, the UK based charity The Donkey Sanctuary estimated that 1.8 million skins were traded every year, but the demand could be as high as 10 million.

In China, donkey meat is considered a delicacy with some restaurants specializing in such dishes, and Guo Li Zhuang restaurants offer the genitals of donkeys in dishes. Donkey-hide gelatin is produced by soaking and stewing the hide to make a traditional Chinese medicine product. Ejiao, the gelatin produced by boiling donkey skins, can sell for up to $388 per kilo, at October 2017 prices.

In 2017, a drop in the number of Chinese donkeys, combined with the fact that they are slow to reproduce, meant that Chinese suppliers began to look to Africa. As a result of the increase in demand, and the price that could be charged, Kenya opened three donkey abattoirs. Concerns for donkeys' well-being, however, have resulted in a number of African countries (including Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Senegal) banning China from buying their donkey products.

In 2019, The Donkey Sanctuary warned that the global donkey population could be reduced by half over the next half decade as the demand for ejiao increases in China.

 

Lt. Richard Alexander "Dick" Henderson using a donkey to carry a wounded soldier at the Battle of Gallipoli.

During World War I John Simpson Kirkpatrick, a British stretcher bearer serving with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and Richard Alexander "Dick" Henderson of the New Zealand Medical Corps used donkeys to rescue wounded soldiers from the battlefield at Gallipoli.

According to British food writer Matthew Fort, donkeys were used in the Italian Army. The Mountain Fusiliers each had a donkey to carry their gear, and in extreme circumstances the animal could be eaten.

Donkeys have also been used to carry explosives in conflicts that include the war in Afghanistan and others.

Goats

 

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Conservation-Status-Chart.png

Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)[1]

Scientific classification

Kingdom:

Animalia

Phylum:

Chordata

Class:

Aves

Order:

Galliformes

Family:

Phasianidae

Subfamily:

Phasianinae

Common Name: Peacocks

Scientific Name: Afropavo, Pavo

Type: Birds

Diet: Omnivores

Group Name: Muster, ostenstation, pride

Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus), also known as the common peafowl, and blue peafowl

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Breed Facts

Status:
Recovering

Use:
Meat

Adult Weight:
50 – 175 lbs

Temperament:
Docile

Experience Level:
Novice - Intermediate

 

Notes:Heavy muscling, parasite resistance

 

 

 

The domestic goat or simply goat (Capra aegagrus hircus) is a subspecies of C. aegagrus domesticated from the wild goat of Southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the animal family Bovidae and the subfamily Caprinae, meaning it is closely related to the sheep. There are over 300 distinct breeds of goat. It is one of the oldest domesticated species of animal, according to archaeological evidence that its earliest domestication occurred in Iran at 10,000 calibrated calendar years ago.

Goat-herding is an ancient tradition that is still important in places like Egypt.

Goats have been used for milk, meat, fur, and skins across much of the world. Milk from goats is often turned into goat cheese.

Female goats are referred to as does or nannies, intact males are called bucks or billies, and juvenile goats of both sexes are called kids. Castrated males are called wethers. While the words hircine and caprine both refer to anything having a goat-like quality, hircine is used most often to emphasize the distinct smell of domestic goats.

In 2011, there were more than 924 million goats living in the world, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Most goats naturally have two horns, of various shapes and sizes depending on the breed. There have been incidents of polycerate goats (having as many as eight horns), although this is a genetic rarity thought to be inherited. Unlike cattle, goats have not been successfully bred to be reliably polled, as the genes determining sex and those determining horns are closely linked. Breeding together two genetically polled goats results in a high number of intersex individuals among the offspring, which are typically sterile. Their horns are made of living bone surrounded by keratin and other proteins, and are used for defense, dominance, and territoriality.

Goats are ruminants. They have a four-chambered stomach consisting of the rumen, the reticulum, the omasum, and the abomasum. As with other mammal ruminants, they are even-toed ungulates. The females have an udder consisting of two teats, in contrast to cattle, which have four teats. An exception to this is the Boer goat, which sometimes may have up to eight teats.

Goats have horizontal, slit-shaped pupils. Because goats' irises are usually pale, their contrasting pupils are much more noticeable than in animals such as cattle, deer, most horses, and many sheep, whose similarly horizontal pupils blend into a dark iris and sclera.

Both male and female goats have beards, and many types of goat (most commonly dairy goats, dairy-cross Boers, and pygmy goats) may have wattles, one dangling from each side of the neck.

Goats are naturally curious. They are also agile and well known for their ability to climb and balance in precarious places. This makes them the only ruminant to regularly climb trees. Due to their agility and inquisitiveness, they are notorious for escaping their pens by testing fences and enclosures, either intentionally or simply because they are used to climbing. If any of the fencing can be overcome, goats will almost inevitably escape. Goats have been found to be as intelligent as dogs by some studies.

A goat is useful to humans when it is living and when it is dead, first as a renewable provider of milk, manure, and fiber, and then as meat and hide. Some charities provide goats to impoverished people in poor countries, because goats are easier and cheaper to manage than cattle, and have multiple uses. In addition, goats are used for driving and packing purposes.

The intestine of goats is used to make "catgut", which is still in use as a material for internal human surgical sutures and strings for musical instruments. The horn of the goat, which signifies plenty and well-being (the cornucopia), is also used to make spoons.

Land Clearing

Goats have been used by humans to clear unwanted vegetation for centuries. They have been described as "eating machines" and "biological control agents". There has been a resurgence of this in North America since 1990, when herds were used to clear dry brush from California hillsides thought to be endangered by potential wildfires. This form of using goats to clear land is sometimes known as conservation grazing. Since then, numerous public and private agencies have hired private herds from companies such as Rent A Goat to perform similar tasks. This may be expensive and their smell may be a nuisance. This practice has become popular in the Pacific Northwest, where they are used to remove invasive species not easily removed by humans, including (thorned) blackberry vines and poison oak. Chattanooga, TN and Spartanburg, SC have used goats to control kudzu, an invasive plant species prevalent in the southeastern United States.

Tennessee Fainting Goats

The Myotonic goat is a distinct breed yet it has many synonyms for names, including Nervous Goats, Wooden-Leg Goats, Scare Goats, Fainting Goats, and Tennessee Fainting Goats. The breed is a multi-purpose goat derived from a variety of strains of goats that were originally from Tennessee. As is typical of locally developed breeds, the overall type and conformation do vary somewhat more than is typical of imported, standardized breeds (dairy breeds, Angoras, Boers). However, the breed does have several distinctive features that set them apart from other goat breeds, and it is these features that help to define the Myotonic goat as a breed. Several old strains of Myotonic goats persisted in Tennessee, and goats of these lines can still be found. In addition, several lines developed in Texas since the 1950s, and some of these have a slightly different “look” by virtue of being selected in a different environment and for different goals. One must remember that the Texas goats ultimately originated in Tennessee and so both strains are indeed branches of the same breed.  The relatively newer strain of the breed is the minis.  The mini Myotonic goats retain the distinctive breed features, though in a more compact and shorter size.  They too ultimately originated in Tennessee, just as the Texas strain, and so too are a branch of the same Myotonic breed.The myotonic goat or Tennessee fainting goat is an American breed of meat goat. It is characterised by myotonia congenita, a hereditary condition which may cause it to stiffen or fall over when startled. It may also be known as the fainting goat, falling goat, stiff-legged goat or nervous goat, or as the Tennessee wooden-leg goat. Four goats of this type were brought to Tennessee in the 1880s. Most all myotonic goats seem to come from an origin in Tennessee, in the 1880s. White and Plaskett reported seeing these goats in five counties in Tennessee- Marshall, Giles, Lawrence, Maury, and Coffee.

The myotonic goat is important in history for researching and clarifying the role of chloride in muscle excitation.

Fainting goats were first brought to Marshall County, Tennessee, in the 1880s.

The fainting was first described in scientific literature in 1904, and described as a "congenital myotonia" in 1939. The mutation in the goat gene that causes this muscle stiffness was discovered in 1996, several years after the equivalent gene had been discovered in humans and mice.

The experiments of Brown and Harvey in 1939 with the myotonic goat made a major contribution to the understanding of the physiological basis of this condition and influenced many other theories of myotonia and its causes.

In 2019 its conservation status was listed as "at risk" in the DAD-IS database of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Myotonia congenita is caused by an inherited disorder of a chloride channel in the muscles of the skeleton (skeletal muscle chloride channel 1, CLCN1). Congenital myotonia can be inherited as an autosomal dominant trait (with incomplete penetrance) or a recessive trait, resulting in the varying severity of the condition. In affected goats, the CLCN1 gene contains a missense mutation; the amino acid alanine is replaced with a proline residue. This small change causes the chloride channel in the muscle fibers to have a reduced conductance of chloride ions. This mis-sense mutation occurs in a sequence of seven amino acids that are included in a group of closely related channels including that of humans and rats. This causes a delay in the relaxation of the muscles after the goat has made an involuntary movement. After stimulation, in myotonia congenita there is an increased tendency of the muscle fibers to respond with repetitive action potentials and after discharges.

The myotonic goat is important in history for researching and clarifying the role of chloride in muscle excitation.

The fainting was first described in scientific literature in 1904, and described as a "congenital myotonia" in 1939. The mutation in the goat gene that causes this muscle stiffness was discovered in 1996, several years after the equivalent gene had been discovered in humans and mice. However, the tendency of goats to spasm has been attested to as early as the Hippocratic Corpus, where analogies are drawn from the phenomenon to human illness.

The experiments of Brown and Harvey in 1939 with the myotonic goat made a major contribution to the understanding of the physiological basis of this condition and influenced many other theories of myotonia and its causes.

 

Pyrenean Mountain Dog 

aka Great Pyrenees

 

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Known as the Great Pyrenees in North America, this is a large breed of dog used as a livestock guardian dog. As late as 1874 the breed was not completely standardized in appearance, with two major subtypes recorded, the Western and the Eastern. They are related to several other large, white, European livestock guardian dogs (LGD), including the Maremma Sheepdog (Italy), the Kuvasz (Hungary), the Akbash (Turkey) and the Polish Tatra Sheepdog or Polski Owczarek Podhalański, and somewhat less closely to the Newfoundland and the St. Bernard. According to the Great Pyrenees Club of America, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog is naturally nocturnal and aggressive with any predators that may harm its flock. However, the breed can typically be trusted with small, young and helpless animals of any kind due to its natural guardian instinct.

Males grow to 50–59 kg (110–130 pounds) and 69–81 cm (27–32 inches), while females reach 41–52 kg (90–115 pounds) and 66–79 cm (26–31 inches). On average, their lifespan is 10 to 11 years.

The weather-resistant double coat consists of a long, flat, thick, outer coat of coarse hair, straight or slightly undulating, lying over a dense, fine, woolly undercoat. The coat is more profuse about the neck and shoulders, where it forms a ruff or mane, which is more pronounced in males so that it may fend off wolf attacks. The longer hair on the tail forms a plume. There is also feathering along the back of the front legs and along the back of the thighs, giving a "pantaloon" effect. The hair on the face and ears is both shorter and of finer texture.

The main coat color is white and can have varying shades of gray, red (rust), or tan around the face (including a full face mask) and ears and sometimes on the body and tail. As Pyrenean Mountain Dogs mature, their coats grow thicker and the longer-colored hair of the coat often fades. Sometimes a little light tan or lemon will appear later in life around the ears and face. The breed being double-coated, the undercoat can also have color and the skin as well. The color of the nose and on the eye rims should be jet black.[8] Grey or tan markings that remain lend the French name, "blaireau", (badger) which is a similar grizzled mixture color seen in the European badger. More recently, any color is correctly termed "Badger" or "Blaireau".

One singular characteristic of the Pyrenean Mountain Dog is the unique double dewclaws on each hind leg.

The Great Pyrenees were bred centuries ago to work with shepherds and herding dogs in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain.

One of the first descriptions of the breed comes from Fray Miguel Agustín, "prior" of the Temple who lived between 1560 and 1630, published in 1617, a book which he called Libro de los secretos de la agricultura, casa de campo y pastoril. It gives the reasons why shepherds prefer white puppies, excluding those born with spots of dark color. Relates the friar: "The wool cattle dogs should not must be so big or so heavy as those of the guard of the house, but strong and sturdy, lightweight and ready to combat and fight and for run, because they have to make saves and guard against wolves and hunt them down if those take a cattle... These should be white so that the shepherd can easily see when these run after the wolf and know them in the evening and the morning."

From 1675 the breed was a favorite of the Grand Dauphin and other members of the French aristocracy.

In the mid-19th century, the breed was not homogenized. According to the article published on February 20, 1874, in the journal Acclimatization and written by the canine expert Kermadec, says:

There in the Pyrenees various types of large dogs, called Mountain Dogs, and among other, two very different varieties:

—One, We might designate with the name "Dog of the Western Pyrenees", particularly widespread around Bagneres-de-Bigorre; have a thick snout, hanging lips, rounded ears, a little curly coat black and white, seems to be largely the strain of large dogs designated with the name Terra-Nova Dogs, widespread throughout France.

—The Second type is the "Dog of the Eastern Pyrenees" is large, very slender shape, pointed snout, pointy ears and falls, soft, silky and abundant coat, a complete white snow color. In some cases, there is a blackish band around the eyes, but often it is completely white... It was extended once in the Republic of Andorra and part of Spain, but in Andorra is completely extirpated. It might still exist in the mountains of Spain.

Mary Crane founded the Great Pyrenees breed in America in 1931, and together with her husband Francis began Basquaerie Great Pyrenees at their Needham, Massachusetts home. Her devotion and dedication to Great Pyrenees continued for more than fifty years.

In 1931 Basquaerie imported the first Great Pyrenees from France, for the purpose of establishing the breed in America. In 1933 the Great Pyrenees was formally recognized by the American Kennel Club as a pure-bred breed eligible to compete in all AKC competition, this due in large part to the efforts of the Cranes toward achieving this recognition. Basquaerie preserved the finest Great Pyrenees dogs and bloodlines in the world from the ravages and hostilities of WWII in Europe. They imported nearly 60 Great Pyrenees from France and Europe to the United States, representing more than 10 distinct bloodlines or kennels and a diverse population of Great Pyrenees.

LGD's - Livestock Guardian Dogs

stay with the group of animals they protect as a full-time member of the flock or herd. Their ability to guard their herd is mainly instinctive, as the dog is bonded to the herd from an early age.[2] Unlike herding dogs which control the movement of livestock, LGDs blend in with them, watching for intruders within the flock. The mere presence of a guardian dog is usually enough to ward off some predators, and LGDs confront predators by vocal intimidation, barking, and displaying very aggressive behavior. The dog may attack or fight with a predator if it cannot drive it away. The use of dogs in protecting livestock originated over 2,000 years ago, with their use being recorded as early as 150 BC in Rome. Both Aristotle's History of Animals and Virgil's Georgics mention the use of livestock guardian dogs by the Molossians in the ancient region of Epirus. 

The dogs are introduced to livestock as puppies so they "imprint" on the animals. Experts recommend that the pups begin living with the herd at 4 to 5 weeks of age. This imprinting is thought to be largely olfactory and occurs between 3 and 16 weeks of age. Training requires regular daily handling and management, preferably from birth. A guardian dog is not considered reliable until it is at least 2 years of age. Until that time, supervision, guidance, and correction are needed to teach the dog the skills and rules it needs to do its job. Having older dogs that assist in training younger dogs streamlines this process considerably.

Trials are underway to protect penguins with LGDs.

Highland Cattle

(Bos (primigenius) taurus)

 

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Highland cattle descend from the Hamitic Longhorn, which were brought to Britain by Neolithic farmers in the second millennium BC, as the cattle migrated northwards through Africa and Europe. Highland cattle were historically of great importance to the economy, with the cattle being raised for meat primarily and sold in England.

The 1885 herd book describes two distinct types of Highland cattle. One was the West Highland, or Kyloe, originating and living mostly in the Outer Hebrides, which had harsher conditions.These cattle tended to be smaller, to have black coats and, due to their more rugged environment, to have long hair. These cattle were named due to the practice of relocating them. The kyles are narrow straits of water, and the cattle were driven across them to get to market.

The other type was the mainland; these tended to be larger because their pastures provided richer nutrients. They came in a range of colors, most frequently dun or red. These types have now been crossbred so that there is no distinct difference.

Since the early 20th century, breeding stock has been exported to many parts of the world, especially Australia and North America.

Originally, small farmers kept Highlands as house cows to produce milk and for meat. The Highland cattle registry ("herd book") was established in 1885. This is the oldest herd book in the world, which makes them the oldest registered cattle in the world. Although a group of cattle is generally called a herd, a group of Highland cattle is known as a "fold". This is because in winter, the cattle were kept in open shelters made of stone called folds to protect them from the weather at night. They were also known as kyloes in Scots.

The Highland has long horns and a long shaggy coat. It is a hardy breed, bred to withstand the intemperate conditions in the region. It is reared primarily for beef, and has been exported to several other countries.

Bulls can weigh up to 800 kg (1,800 lb) and cows up to 500 kg (1,100 lb). They have a docile temperament and the milk has a high butterfat content, so have traditionally been used as house cows. They are generally good-natured animals but very protective of their young. 

They have long, wide horns and long, wavy, woolly coats that are colored red, ginger, black, dun, yellow, white, grey, "silver" (white but with a black nose and ears), or tan, and they also may be brindled.

They have an unusual double coat of hair. On the outside is the oily outer hair—the longest of any cattle breed—covering a downy undercoat. This makes them well suited to conditions in the Highlands, which have a high annual rainfall and sometimes very strong winds.

Their skill in foraging for food allows them to survive in steep mountain areas where they both graze and eat plants that many other cattle avoid. They can dig through the snow with their horns to find buried plants.

A fold of semi-wild Highland cattle was studied over a period of 4 years. It was found that the cattle have a clear structure and hierarchy of dominance, which reduces aggression. Social standing depends on age and sex, with older cattle being dominant to calves and younger ones, and males dominant to females. Young bulls will dominate adult cows when they reached around 2 years of age. Calves from the top ranking cow were given higher social status, despite minimal intervention from their mother. Play-fighting, licking and mounting were seen as friendly contact.

Breeding occurred in May and June, with heifers first giving birth at 2–3 years old.

The meat of Highland cattle tends to be leaner than most beef because Highlands are largely insulated by their thick, shaggy hair rather than by subcutaneous fat. Highland cattle can produce beef at a reasonable profit from land that would otherwise normally be unsuitable for agriculture. The most profitable way to produce Highland beef is on poor pasture in their native land, the Highlands of Scotland. The meat is also gaining popularity in North America as the beef is low in cholesterol.

For show purposes, Highland cattle are sometimes groomed with oils and conditioners to give their coats a fluffy appearance that is more apparent in calves; it leads some outside the industry to call them "fluffy cows". Many also call the cows "hairy cows" due to their thick coats.

LLama

(Lama glama)

 

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The llama (/ˈlɑːmə/; Spanish pronunciation: [ˈʎama]) (Lama glama) is a domesticated South American camelid, widely used as a meat and pack animal by Andean cultures since the Pre-Columbian era.

Llamas are very social animals and live with others as a herd. Their wool is very soft and lanolin-free. Llamas can learn simple tasks after a few repetitions. When using a pack, they can carry about 25 to 30% of their body weight for 8 to 13 km (5–8 miles). The name llama (in the past also spelled "lama" or "glama") was adopted by European settlers from native Peruvians.

The ancestors of Llamas are thought to have originated from the central plains of North America about 40 million years ago, and subsequently migrated to South America about three million years ago during the Great American Interchange. By the end of the last ice age (10,000–12,000 years ago), camelids were extinct in North America. As of 2007, there were over seven million llamas and alpacas in South America and over 158,000 llamas and 100,000 alpacas, descended from progenitors imported late in the 20th century, in the United States and Canada.

In Aymara mythology llamas are important beings. The Heavenly Llama is said to drink water from the ocean and urinates as it rains. According to Aymara eschatology llamas will return to the water springs and lagoons where they come from at the end of time.

Llamas were not always confined to South America; abundant llama-like remains were found in Pleistocene deposits in the Rocky Mountains and in Central America. Some of the fossil llamas were much larger than current forms. Some species remained in North America during the last ice ages. North American llamas are categorized as a single extinct genus, Hemiauchenia. Llama-like animals would have been a common sight 25,000 years ago, in modern-day California, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Missouri, and Florida.

The camelid lineage has a good fossil record. Camel-like animals have been traced from the thoroughly differentiated, modern species back through early Miocene forms. Their characteristics became more general, and they lost those that distinguished them as camelids; hence, they were classified as ancestral artiodactyls. No fossils of these earlier forms have been found in the Old World, indicating that North America was the original home of camelids, and that Old World camels crossed over via the Bering Land Bridge. The formation of the Isthmus of Panama three million years ago allowed camelids to spread to South America as part of the Great American Interchange, where they evolved further. Meanwhile, North American camelids died out at the end of the Pleistocene.

A full-grown llama can reach a height of 1.7 to 1.8 m (5 ft 7 in to 5 ft 11 in) at the top of the head, and can weigh between 130 and 200 kg (290 and 440 lb). At birth, a baby llama (called a cria) can weigh between 9 and 14 kg (20 and 31 lb). Llamas typically live for 15 to 25 years, with some individuals surviving 30 years or more.

The ears are rather long and slightly curved inward, characteristically known as "banana" shaped. There is no dorsal hump. The feet are narrow, the toes being more separated than in the camels, each having a distinct plantar pad. The tail is short, and fiber is long, woolly and soft.

The llama and alpaca are only known in the domestic state, and are variable in size and of many colors, being often white, brown, or piebald. Some are grey or black.

Llamas are not ruminants, pseudo-ruminants, or modified ruminants. They have a complex stomach with several compartments that allows them to consume lower quality, high cellulose foods. The stomach compartments allow for fermentation of tough food stuffs, followed by regurgitation and re-chewing. Ruminants have four compartments (cows, sheep, goats), whereas llamas have only three stomach compartments: the rumen, omasum, and abomasum.

In addition, the llama (and other camelids) have an extremely long and complex large intestine (colon). The large intestine's role in digestion is to reabsorb water, vitamins and electrolytes from food waste that is passing through it. The length of the llama's colon allows it to survive on much less water than other animals. This is a major advantage in arid climates where they live.

Llamas have an unusual reproductive cycle for a large animal. Female llamas are induced ovulators. Through the act of mating, the female releases an egg and is often fertilized on the first attempt. Female llamas do not go into estrus ("heat").

Like humans, llama males and females mature sexually at different rates. Females reach puberty at about 12 months old; males do not become sexually mature until around three years of age.

Llamas mate with in a kush (lying down) position, which is fairly unusual in a large animal. They mate for an extended time (20–45 minutes), also unusual in a large animal.

The gestation period of a llama is 11.5 months (350 days). Dams (female llamas) do not lick off their babies, as they have an attached tongue that does not reach outside of the mouth more than 13 millimetres (1⁄2 inch). Rather, they will nuzzle and hum to their newborns.

Llamas that are well-socialized and trained to halter and lead after weaning are very friendly and pleasant to be around. They are extremely curious and most will approach people easily. However, llamas that are bottle-fed or over-socialized and over-handled as youth will become extremely difficult to handle when mature, when they will begin to treat humans as they treat each other, which is characterized by bouts of spitting, kicking and neck wrestling.

Llamas have started showing up in nursing homes and hospitals as certified therapy animals. Rojo the Llama, located in the Pacific Northwest was certified in 2008. The Mayo Clinic says animal-assisted therapy can reduce pain, depression, anxiety, and fatigue. This type of therapy is growing in popularity, and there are several organizations throughout the United States that participate. 

The females are usually only seen spitting as a means of controlling other herd members. One may determine how agitated the llama is by the materials in the spit. The more irritated the llama is, the further back into each of the three stomach compartments it will try to draw materials from for its spit.

While the social structure might always be changing, they live as a family and they do take care of each other. If one notices a strange noise or feels threatened, an alarm call - a loud, shrill sound which rhythmically rises and falls - is sent out and all others become alert. They will often hum to each other as a form of communication.

The sound of the llama making groaning noises or going "mwa" (/mwaʰ/) is often a sign of fear or anger. Unhappy or agitated llamas will lay their ears back, while ears being perked upwards is a sign of happiness or curiosity.

An "orgle" is the mating sound of a llama or alpaca, made by the sexually aroused male. The sound is reminiscent of gargling, but with a more forceful, buzzing edge. Males begin the sound when they become aroused and continue throughout the act of procreation – from 15 minutes to more than an hour.

Doctors and researches have determined that llamas possess antibodies that are well suited to treat certain diseases. Scientists have been studying the way llamas might contribute to the fight against coronaviruses, including MERS and SARS-CoV-2 (which causes COVID-19).

Using llamas as livestock guards in North America began in the early 1980s, and some sheep producers have used llamas successfully since then. Some would even use them to guard their smaller cousins, the alpaca.[34][35] They are used most commonly in the western regions of the United States, where larger predators, such as coyotes and feral dogs, are prevalent. Typically, a single gelding (castrated male) is used. Using llamas as guards has reduced the losses to predators for many producers. The value of the livestock saved each year more than exceeds the purchase cost and annual maintenance of a llama. Although not every llama is suited to the job, most are a viable, nonlethal alternative for reducing predation, requiring no training and little care.

Llamas were first imported into the US in the late 1800s as zoo exhibits. Restrictions on importation of livestock from South America due to hoof and mouth disease, combined with lack of commercial interest, resulted in the number of llamas staying low until the late 20th century. In the 1970s, interest in llamas as livestock began to grow, and the number of llamas increased as farmers bred and produced an increasing number of animals. Both the price and number of llamas in the US climbed rapidly in the 1980s and 1990s. With little market for llama fiber or meat in the US, and the value of guard llamas limited, the primary value in llamas was in breeding more animals, a classic sign of a speculative bubble in agriculture. By 2002, there were almost 145,000 llamas in the US according to the US Department of Agriculture, and animals sold for as much as $220,000. However, the lack of any end market for the animals resulted in a crash in both llama prices and the number of llamas; the Great Recession further dried up investment capital, and the number of llamas in the US began to decline as fewer animals were bred and older animals died of old age. By 2017, the number of llamas in the US had dropped below 40,000. A similar speculative bubble was experienced with the closely related alpaca, which burst shortly after the llama bubble.

Miniature Donkey

(Equus asinus domestic miniature)

 

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