From the BBC program Farming Today:
"We are farming fewer breeds than ever to feed our desire for consistent cuts of meat. Last century we lost 26 native breeds of livestock, as farmers concentrated on the most productive lines. Farming Today visits the Isle of Man to view one our rarest breeds of sheep, the Manx Loghtan. And in Warwickshire, a Texel sheep farmer explains why his animals dominate the industry."
The farmers have gradually concentrated on mostly 4 breeds of animals:
- Holstein Cattle (also know as 'Holstein Friesian' or Friesian) is a breed of dairy cow known today as the world's highest production dairy animal. Originating in Europe, Holsteins were developed in the Netherlands. It is black and white due to artificial selection by the breeders. If we raised all 100 million cows in U.S. on grass, cattle would require almost half the country’s land. Source: The Myth of Sustainable Meat - NYTimes http://nyti.ms/HI8eF7
Holstein cow. Image source: Wikipedia, public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the Agricultural Research Service, the research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture.
- Texel sheep is a breed of domestic sheep originally from the island of Texel in the Netherlands. The Texel is heavily muscled and is a popular lean meat sheep in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay and Europe.
Sheep on the isle of Texel. Image source: Wikipedia, public domain.
- Hubbard Chicken is a commercial chicken breed (broiler) developed by Hubbard farms. Hubbard operates its selection programs in 3 different R&D centres in North America and Europe, along with its own production sites in North America, Europe and Brazil.
- Landrace Pig was first introduced in Britain from China. The American Landrace is a medium to large breed of domestic pig, white in color with long bodies, fine hair, long snouts, and heavy drooping ears. They are bred for pork production. The American Landrace derives from the Danish Landrace of 1895 Danish origin.
Farming Today podcast.
American Landrace. Wikipedia.
BBC Radio 4 website
Texel (sheep). Wikipedia.