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understanding of rural change. Yet, whether viewed as a paradigm shift or as just a
new ingredient, the study of livestock beyond productivism can contribute much to
improving the understanding of rural change, the development of agricultural
geography and reducing the anthropocentric human—animal dualism in
This work was funded by a grant from the Nuffield foundation. We would also like
to thank Dr Julie Higginbottom for her work on this project.
The project had two main aims. The first was to examine the relationship between
particular breeds and places. Using data from herd topics, the current distributions of
individual breeds' were mapped across the British Isles. These maps reveal that, in
many cases, a breed has a strong relationship with a particular place and is often
clustered in a particular region (see Figure 5.2 , for example). Frequently, it is the rarest
breeds which have the strongest association with place, and, by contrast, the more
commercial is a breed, the more uniform it is in its distribution (Yarwood and Evans
1999). The second stage of the project examined the reasons for these distributions
and, in particular, why rare breeds remained important in particular rural places. This
was done through a survey which targeted members of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust
(RBST), a charity dedicated to the preservation of rare livestock. From the 1,834
successful returns (a 23 per cent response rate which included farmers and non-
farmers), it is possible to begin exploring how livestock are placed within discourses of
the contemporary British countryside.
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