Have Farm Animals Evolved with Us?

At the very beginning of class, we read an article by Wang that talked about how dogs have evolved with human as they are domesticated early on in their evolutionary history. In a recent class, we also discussed the differences in nutrition content between the meat we consume today and meat we used to consume decades ago. I was wondering if farm animals have also evolved with us as the domestication of chicken, cows, and pigs have definitely changed their physiology over the years.

In a NYTimes article, author pointed out that animals that are raised in modern industrial farms are bred to produce the most amount of edible meat. For example, chickens are bred to have gigantic, disproportionate breast because human like to consume chicken breasts. It is a desirable trait for human as meat consumers, however, it is detrimental to chicken’s health because large breast in no way benefit chicken’s survival or reproduction in their natural habitant. Human have genetically changed the way animals are raised in industrial farms, as a result, chicken eat less while grow bigger. However, physiology is not the only thing that has changed in modern farm animal population. Due to the highly regulated farm industry, farm animals tend to become more and more homogenized and loaded with antibiotics, consequently, they are a lot more vulnerable to diseases compared to their wild counterparts. Tyson Foods, which is called “America’s meat factory” that monopolizes the production of chicken, is able to bring chicken’s retail price from $6.48 per pond to $1.57 per pound, as a result of the mass production.

I think this phenomenon is best summarized by the author’s comment that industrialized faring “privatizes gains but socializes the health and environmental cost”.

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