How profit-driven inbreeding could bring the world dairy herd to its knees

bovine pandemic here we come.

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The drive for genetic selection means cattle are increasingly vulnerable to deadly new epidemics that could emerge as the climate warms

Known for their distinctive long horns, the Ankole cattle of western Uganda have evolved over millennia to withstand their harsh environment, with its lengthy dry spells and abundance of local maladies such as trypanosomiasis, a disease spread by the tsetse fly. But after flourishing for almost 10,000 years, the Ankole have begun to rapidly disappear.

Farmland is dwindling in Uganda due to the expanding human population, and Ankole require vast areas to graze. Local herders have responded to the pressure by replacing them, cross-breeding Ankole cattle with industrial species such as the European Holstein. But while these hybrids gain favourable genetic traits from the Holstein, producing more milk and meat, and requiring less land to keep, there is a hidden cost.

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