Yesterday, we visited a pig farm which also had a ‘genetic bank’ with pigs of particularly desirable characteristics. While those pigs looked fairly healthy, it still brought the issue of breeding livestock animals to the forefront of my mind. In our agricultural economics classes, we often talk about ‘technological progress’ and ‘efficiency increases’, which in the livestock sector means that the animals have to be heavier quicker in order to decrease any ‘excessive’ expenses in feeding them. Similarly, in the dairy industry cows that give the most litres of milk are coveted because for the same ‘fixed cost’ of one cow, you may make more money off of it.
This is where the industrial mindset in agriculture bothers me, however, since these efficient production styles fare far from what comes natural to animals. This article is a great Sunday read that brings in a relatively balanced perspective on the consequences of breeding – as one of the interviewed people said, breeding has always existed, but
“the problems occur when you push it beyond where you should.”
What’s your take on the issue?