[KM16]
Genetic diversity - domestic animals
Assessments published: [ 2008 2011 2009 ]

The indicator illustrates the breeds of individual species of domestic animals, changes in the number of cattle and breeders included in the gene bank, as well as the classification of breeds into indigenous, traditional and exotic breeds. In cattle, the situation is illustrated with the number of the first inseminations with bulls of individual breeds, which is a good indicator of the number of breeding cows and the use of breeding animals. In terms of origin, breeds of domestic animals in Slovenia are divided into indigenous, traditional and exotic, and in terms of endangerment, into endangered and widespread breeds. Indigenous breeds of domestic animals are those which developed in the territory of the Republic of Slovenia. They are listed by individual names in the Livestock Breeding Act, which also defines the procedure for breed recognition. Traditional breeds of domestic animals are those which have adapted to the climatic and other conditions of a specific area. In the Republic of Slovenia, traditional breeds are considered the breeds which have been under continuous rearing and selection supervision for at least fifty years in case of horses, donkeys or cattle, or thirty years in case of other species. Exotic breeds of domestic animals are those which developed elsewhere and have not yet adapted to the climatic and other conditions in the Republic of Slovenia, or have not been under continuous rearing and selection supervision for at least fifty years in case of horses, donkeys or cattle, or thirty years in case of other species.

Image KM16-1: Number of breeds by individual species of domestic animals

Source: Public service tasks of gene bank in animal husbandry and Central cattle breeding database GOVEDO, 2008.


Image KM16-2: Indigenous breeds of domestic animals, number of breeding females and males, and number of breeders included in the gene bank

Source: Public service tasks of gene bank in animal husbandry and Central cattle breeding database GOVEDO, 2006.


Image KM16-3: Number of the first inseminations of breeding cows with individual breeds of bulls according to years

Source: Public service tasks of gene bank in animal husbandry and Central cattle breeding database GOVEDO, 2006.


Image KM16-4: Number of first inseminations of breeding cows with Cika Breed bulls by years

Source: Central cattle breeding database GOVEDO.


The goal is to preserve as much genetic diversity in livestock rearing as possible. This is the foundation for the production of food and the conservation of landscape diversity, and for securing an income on farms. Domestic animal breeds are part of the natural and cultural heritage. In 1996, Slovenia ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), the goal of which was to significantly reduce the declining trend in biodiversity on the global, regional and national level by 2010. Conservation of genetic diversity in livestock breeding is regulated by the Livestock Breeding Act and the Rules on Preserving Biodiversity in Livestock Breeding. We have to pay special attention to the indigenous and traditional breeds, which are adapted to local conditions.

Due to harsh competitiveness on the increasingly open livestock products market, keeping of indigenous and traditional cattle, pig and poultry breeds is becoming less popular. Globalisation in the selection of the most commercially attractive breeds is only increasing the pressure. In Slovenia, the share of animals of exotic breeds and cross-breeding with exotic breeds is on the increase. In addition to that, buying purebred material from other populations and thus introducing mostly the genes of currently commercially most interesting qualities has a large impact on the traditional locally adapted breeds, whose adaptation to local conditions is decreasing.

In cattle breeding, which is the most important type of livestock breeding, the number of inseminations with bulls of the traditional Brown breed is decreasing rapidly, and the number of inseminations with bulls of exotic Holstein and exotic meat breeds is on the increase. Between 1991 and 2004, the number of first inseminations with bulls of the Brown breed decreased by 65 %.

The degree of endangerment of indigenous breeds is high. Eight of a total of twelve indigenous breeds of domestic animals are endangered. It is mostly the breeds whose adaptation to natural conditions is of major importance due to the style of rearing that successfully defy the pressures of foreign breeds. Such breeds are the Carniolan Bee and the Jezersko-Solčava Sheep, and partly also the Bovec Sheep. Proper guidance and support in breeding the breeding animals are two decisive factors in the conservation of endangered indigenous breeds. 1991, when the gene bank was established and professional services started to strive for the conservation of indigenous breeds, presented a milestone in such endeavours. An even more decisive element was the foundation of breeders’ organisations that connected breeders and lovers of individual breeds. The Cika Cattle breed is an example of successful breeding: in the period between 1991 and 2004, the number of the first inseminations of breeding cows increased by 34 times.

Data for Slovenia
- Central Cattle Breeding Database, Agricultural Institute of Slovenia, www.govedo.si
- Public Service Tasks of Gene Bank of Animal Husbandry, Gene bank, Biotechnical Faculty, Department of Animal Science, www.bfro.uni-lj.si/Kat_center/genska_banka/
- State of Farm Animal Genetic Resources in Slovenia), Domžale: Biotechnical Faculty, Department of Animal Science, 2003)

The Central Cattle Breeding Database contains data on the animals’ breed and origin, inseminations, fertility and production traits, movements of animals, etc. Most of the basic data are collected by the local institutions of the Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry of Slovenia, and the database is administrated by the Agricultural Institute of Slovenia. It contains the data on more than 97% of all registered cattle in Slovenia. Public Service Tasks of Gene Bank of Animal Husbandry manages the gene bank, collects and processes data on the number of animals of individual breeds included in the gene bank. A detailed description of the situation can be found in The State of Farm Animal Genetic Resources in Slovenia.

20 November 2008

Important note and apology: English texts in chapters Comments and Data and sources haven't been updated yet and refer to the indicator version from 2006. We hope to provide English translations soon.

Tomaž Perpar, Agricultural institute of Slovenia