National Geographic just came out with a new “7 billion” mobile application describing the changes that are expected to come as the world’s population passes the the 7 billion mark sometime on Oct. 31, 2011. The photo-series is part of a year-long project on world population, and the associated problems with food production, climate change and disease.
One aspect of the series is called “Counting on Uncommon Chickens” which highlights some rare and beautiful chicken breeds. Poultry and eggs are at their highest demand in history, yet industrialized farming practices rely on just a few high-yeilding breeds. This is edging out nearly a third of all varieties, now at risk of extinction. Natural selection has taught us that variety in nature is important as some breeds have desirable traits such as heat and disease resistance, which could be essential to chicken survival.
Click here to view the photo series by National Geographic.
I recently visited the State Fair and discovered a cornucopia of unique chicken breeds and varieties, both strange and beautiful. Besides their visual splendor, I have also realized the importance of keeping them around for the benefit our society and their survival. I salute organizations like 4-H and Future Farmers of America who promote and encourage the raising of heirloom chicken varieties.