Chapter 5 - Animals and Society Institute

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ANIMALS AND SOCIETY:
AN INTRODUCTION TO
HUMAN
-
ANIMAL STUDIES

Chapter 5: The Domestication of Animals

Copyri ght Mar go
DeMel l o

and Col umbi a Uni ver si ty Pr ess, 2012

The History of

Animal Domestication

Animal domestication is the #1 most important thing to
happen to animals in the course of human history. On
top of that, it is one of the most important things to
happen to human cultures as well.



First domesticated during the Mesolithic, perhaps
30,000
-
15,000 years ago.



Evidence suggests that dogs were first domesticated
in East Asia, and some of the peoples who entered
North America took dogs with them from Asia.



Some researchers have speculated that the benefits
that dogs offer to humans may have contributed to
the rapid expansion of humans into the New World.



Why the dog?


THE DOG

FROM FOOD COLLECTION TO FOOD
PRODUCTION

The Neolithic Revolution


Domestication involves more than simply taming.
Animals are considered to be domesticated when:



they are kept for a distinct purpose


humans control their breeding


their survival depends on humans


they develop genetic traits that are not found in the wild



Not the same as:


Taming


Training


Captive Breeding

THE DOMESTICATION OF ANIMALS


The fi rst ani mal s domesti cated were the goat, sheep, pi g and the cow:
the fi rst food speci es.


Horses (the fi rst beast of burden), cats, chi ckens, l l amas, al pacas and
camel s fol l owed


Of the 14 l arge ani mal s to have been domesti cated, most can be defi ned
by a number of behavi oral trai ts, i ncl udi ng:


scavenging


rapid maturity rate


reasonable size


a calm disposition


ability to be bred in captivity


a gregarious nature


willingness to live in close quarters


a hierarchical social life


THE DOMESTICATION OF ANIMALS


Fi rst, speci fi c
behavi oral

and physi cal trai ts of i ndi vi dual ani mal s who
scavenged or hung around human encampments were
favored

by natural
sel ecti on i n the process of domesti cati on.


Thi s set up a sel ecti ve breedi ng si tuati on that resul ted i n a strai n of
ani mal s havi ng shor ter and shor ter fl i ght di stances, unti l they were
eventual l y comfor tabl e near humans, havi ng domesti cated themsel ves, so
to speak.


Humans woul d have made choi ces as wel l, sel ecti ng wool l y ani mal s from
among wi l d sheep (who are not normal l y wool l y), thus acqui ri ng l i vestock
better sui ted to l owl and heat and from whi ch to obtai n wool.


Second, humans most l i kel y adapted thei r own
behavi or

to that of the
ani mal s, i ncorporati ng them i nto human soci al and economi c structures
and l ater, mani pul ati ng the physi ol ogy and
behavi or

of the ani mal s
themsel ves.

THE DOMESTICATION OF ANIMALS

Because a handful of traits (like curiosity, lack of
fear, willingness to try new things, food begging,
submissiveness, etc.) found among the juveniles of
species are selected for in domestication, the
physical traits of the young (shorter faces, excess fat,
smaller brains, smaller teeth, etc.) will also be
selected for, leading to modern domesticates who are
physically and
behaviorally

unable to live
independently, and who are, in fact, perpetual
juveniles (a condition known as
neoteny
).

THE DOMESTICATION OF ANIMALS

Domestication allowed humans to


Contain animals with the right temperament


Have a steady food supply


Use animals for companionship, religious purposes and
draft work

In return, the animals received protection and a
constant food supply.

Selective breeding occurred as humans got rid
of animals with undesirable traits, not
allowing them to reproduce.

ANIMAL DOMESTICATION


Herders can feed many more peopl e i n a much more unstabl e
envi ronment, al l owing humans to l i ve i n cl i mates as di verse as
Si beria, Mongol ia and the deserts of Afri ca


When combined wi th farmi ng, ani mals can be used to pul l pl oughs,
pl us thei r ferti lizer can be used to fertilize the fi el ds; ani mals al so
often eat stubbl e off the fi el ds after har vest, cl earing the way for a
new crop


Ani mals as beasts of burdens al l owed for mi gration (especially
when pul l ing carts) and l ong di stance trade; al so warfare (on
horses)


Onl y areas that had l arge rumi nants avai l able to domesticate
(Mi ddle East, Asi a, Europe, parts of Afri ca, South Ameri ca) were
abl e to profi t from these benefi ts


RESULTS OF DOMESTICATION

When combi ned wi th pl ant domesti cati on, al l owed for:


A steady food supply


Animals as labor, food, clothing, companionship, religious
purposes, transportation


Settled living: villages to cities to states


With states: inequality, population growth, occupational
specialization, trade


Enabled more extensive migration, warfare, trade



Other resul ts from ani mal domesti cati on: greater protei n
consumpti on, new communi cabl e di seases l i ke measl es, mumps,
the pl ague (whi ch ef fecti vel y wi ped out much of Nati ve Ameri ca)
and more recent ones l i ke SARS, avi an fl u, mad cow di sease and
AI DS.


I n modern ti mes, wi th the heavy emphasi s on meat consumpti on
and i ndustri al i zed methods of meat producti on, we al so have new
di seases of the ci rcul ator y system as wel l as whol esal e
envi ronmental degradati on.


RESULTS OF ANIMAL DOMESTICATION

Altering the Animal Body


The stor y of ani mal domestication di d not end wi th the creati on of
today’ s maj or domesticated ani mals. Domestication conti nues to
thi s day, i mposing new shapes and trai ts upon ani mals, fi ndi ng new
uses for these “i mproved” creatures, and creati ng new benefi ts and
profi ts for humans.


As farmers and l ater, show breeders, l earned more about the
i nheri tance of trai ts, ani mal breeders began sel ectively breedi ng
thei r ani mals for more speci fic characteristics, such as overall si ze,
fur and wool col or or texture, ear and tai l shape, and more.

ALTERING THE ANIMAL BODY

THE CREATION OF “LIVESTOCK”

From
Auroch


Here animal
bodies are
transformed
through selective
breeding to
create animals
who are tame,
easy to breed,
easy to feed, and
easy to control.

THE CREATION OF “LIVESTOCK”

To Cow


With the
ultimate goal
being to
create
animals
whose sole
purpose is to
create a
commodity for
humans.

MODERN LIVESTOCK


Since the
19
th

century,
animals have
become
meat
-
producing
machines,
manufacture
d and
maintained
for the
highest
profit.

ALTERING LIVESTOCK BODIES


Since
the early part of the twentieth century,
farmers have been experimenting with creating
new livestock breeds, via careful cross
-
breeding,
in order to maximize size, fat composition,
productivity, or other traits.


Since the development of artificial insemination
and the ability to freeze semen, cattle farmers are
able to more selectively breed their prized bulls
and cows to replicate the traits of the parents
.


With the advent of industrial methods of food
production in the twentieth century, changes in
livestock breeds accelerated.





INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION OF ANIMAL
BODIES


Large
-
scale, centralized production,
which concentrates animals into small
spaces and controls food, water, and
temperatures, enables easier health
monitoring, and controls “unnecessary”
and “inefficient” animal movements.


No outside air, no dirt, no sunlight, and
no capacity for natural movement or
activities like grooming, play, exercise,
unaided reproduction, or the like.


This type of confinement can be
compared to the “total institutions”
experienced by residents of prisons or
mental institutions.


To produce the most meat i n
the shortest amount of ti me,
ani mal agri business now
breeds farm ani mals to grow
at unnaturally rapi d rates,
wi th radi cal resul ts to the
ani mal body.


These changes have been
encouraged by new
devel opments i n agri cultural
sci ence, ai med at i mproving
the productivity of food
ani mals such as the routi ne
use of hormones and
anti bi otics to keep ani mals
al i ve, and to encourage fast
growth.




INDUSTRIALIZING ANIMALS


The pet industry, too, relies on artificial
selection (and today, following the livestock
industry, artificial insemination) to create
breeds of animals with favorable (to
humans) traits.


Recent years have seen an escalation in the
varieties of dogs, cats, and other
companion animals being developed in
order to appeal to discriminating
consumers.





One result is a whole host
of health problems
associated with these
breeds.


Dogs in particular are at
risk of problems
associated with the odd
proportions in body, legs
and head that are bred
into many of the breeds.




RESULTING HEALTH PROBLEMS


Genetic manipulation of animals represents a new scientific
development that has irreversibly changed animal bodies.


Because pigs, beef cows and chickens are created for one
purpose

food consumption

their genes have been altered in
a whole host of ways to suit that purpose, resulting in, for
example, pigs engineered to have leaner meat, tailor
-
made to
suit a more health
-
conscious consumer.


Genetically engineered animals are also becoming more
popular among scientists who experiment with or test on
animals.


Genetic engineering has even found its way into the pet world,
with the production of a new hypoallergenic cat (selling for
$12,000
-
$28,000), created by manipulating the genes that
produce allergens, and
Glofish

zebra fish modified with sea
anemone genes to make them glow.





GENETIC MANIPULATION


In terms of reproduction, cl oni ng
ani mals i s the wave of the future,
al l owing humans the greatest l evel of
control over ani mal bodi es.


Thus far, the l i vestock i ndustry has
been most acti ve i n the use of cl oni ng,
cl oni ng pri zed breeder ani mals i n order
to ensure hi gher yi el ds (i n meat, wool,
etc.) by copyi ng onl y ver y productive
ani mals.


Laboratory
sci entists are al so cl oni ng
mi ce, rabbi ts and other l aboratory
ani mals i n order to ensure that the
ani mals used i n research are
geneti cally i denti cal, and to control for
any “i mperfections.”




CLONING


Another way that animal bodies have
been changed is through surgical
procedures, for both cosmetic and control
purposes.


This includes castration,
debanding
,
tail
docking,
debeaking
, dehorning,
ear
cropping, debarking
, and other ways that
animals have their bodies altered to fit
human needs.


All of these uses of the animal body can be
illustrated with Foucault’s notion of
biopower
: the
ways in which the modern state controls and
regulates their citizens’ bodies.


When it comes to animals, it’s easy to see how
society’s needs and desires have shaped the
changes to the animal body. But it’s also about
control: control over animals.





CONTROLLING THE ANIMAL BODY


Certainly
, many companion ani mals gai n a great deal by l i ving wi th
humans, and many worki ng ani mals may l i ve better l i ves wi th
humans than wi thout.


Most companion ani mals, and many other domesticated ani mals,
coul d not l i ve wi thout human care, creati ng a permanent
dependency.


But
we al so care for domestic ani mals because we have grown
dependent on them.
But
whereas the dependency of most domestic
ani mals on humans i s
i rreversible, that
i s not necessarily the case
for human dependency on ani mals.


Just
as we have bred dependency i nto the domestic ani mal/human
rel ationship, we have al so bred i ts corol lary, domi nance, i nto that
same rel ati onship.


IS DOMESTICATION GOOD OR BAD FOR
ANIMALS?