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Why so many donkey breeds in China while so few in the U.S.?

 
Scott Fike
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Greetings,
I recently read in a book in my local library that in China there are 18 different breeds of donkeys. In North America it said there is only 4 breeds. That is a big difference in the total number of breeds available to work with. It makes me wonder why China has so many and North America has so few? Also I gathered from the photographs in this book that donkeys were a LOT more popular at the turn of the century in the U.S. than they are today because there was a lot of photographs of Americans with donkeys around the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth (and early twentieth) century. I wonder why the big drop in popularity between then and now? Thank you
 
Tokunbo Popoola
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Scott Fike wrote:Greetings,
I recently read in a book in my local library that in China there are 18 different breeds of donkeys. In North America it said there is only 4 breeds. That is a big difference in the total number of breeds available to work with. It makes me wonder why China has so many and North America has so few? Also I gathered from the photographs in this book that donkeys were a LOT more popular at the turn of the century in the U.S. than they are today because there was a lot of photographs of Americans with donkeys around the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth (and early twentieth) century. I wonder why the big drop in popularity between then and now? Thank you


1. they eat em so they kept up on their breeding program
2. weather. and the fact that until late they didn't have cars in rural areas. you brought in everything by bike or donkey, horse, ox
 
John Wolfram
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Well, China has 4.3 times as many people as the US, so it's not all too surprising they have 4.5 times as many breeds of donkeys. Another thing to consider is that because of the large population the Chinese have expanded to growing food on more difficult terrain which requires more specialization of animals to work on that terrain.

You wouldn't see this in the USA:
 
Scott Fike
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Why do they cut flat-top ridges in the side of the hills and mountains like that? What is that called and what is it for anyway? Thanks
 
Michael Cox
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Terracing - it is an erosion control and water retention technique that makes steep ground much more productive. I believe we are looking at rice paddies in that photo.
 
John Wolfram
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Michael Cox wrote:Terracing - it is an erosion control and water retention technique that makes steep ground much more productive. I believe we are looking at rice paddies in that photo.

You are correct, those are rice fields formed by hand into the sides of mountains.
 
Scott Fike
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Well, since we're on the subject; why do rice fields get flooded anyway?
 
John Wolfram
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Scott Fike wrote:Well, since we're on the subject; why do rice fields get flooded anyway?

Rice can grow in a flooded field while most other things cannot, so the flooding acts as weed control.
 
Tokunbo Popoola
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Scott Fike wrote:Why do they cut flat-top ridges in the side of the hills and mountains like that? What is that called and what is it for anyway? Thanks


parts of india, vietnam and china they put water buffs at the top of the puddle and feed and water them up there. then when it rains or they refill the lower levels of water they can spread manure by water
 
Brian Cady
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Scott Fike wrote:Greetings,
I recently read in a book in my local library that in China there are 18 different breeds of donkeys....

Hi Scott, I'm interested in Donkeys too, and China. Could you tell us the title of the book you read that in?
 
C. Hunter
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I think a lot of it is economics. Donkeys are hardy suckers compared to horses! I'd also also suggest finding more information before taking that as fact, just because the shades of 'what's a breed' can be so fuzzy- is it just 18 regional variations on the same thing (that are all virtually identical in look and working ability but have been traditionally been bred in only one region) or are the differences more pronounced?

It's only been in the last like, 10 years that cars were something that the average Chinese individual could aspire to (and for a lot of folks- ie, anyone not in the big cities- it's still a stretch.) Donks are cheap transportation. They live longer and are hardier than horses, if slower and not as strong (although they're still pretty damn strong!)
 
Dale Hodgins
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China has some very rough terrain and until recent times, many parts of the country were effectively cut off from the other parts.  Some areas were so isolated that indigenous peoples did not realize they were Chinese until the Hans showed up and explained the situation.

They also have extreme variations in climate,  both in rainfall and temperature.
 
Rob Hind
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Hi,
Sorry I've come to this topic late but I don't often look at the forums...

I live in France and I am a committee member for the Normandy Donkey Association which concerns itself solely with 'Anes Normands', a breed recognised in France ( probably the world! ) since 1983. Recently we have come to accept that the major problem genetically for our 'breed' of donkey is that there are not enough animals within the 'breed' constraints to ensure sufficient diversity for the continuation of our 'breed'.

In Normandie there are two 'breeds' of donkey:
the Ane Normand; overall brown in colour with a spinal and transversal cross [St Andrew's Cross], nose, belly and insides of the legs white and russet at the interchange between the colours - and
the Ane Cotentin; overall light grey with the St Andrew's Cross, nose, belly and inside legs lighter.
and both of these 'breeds' in an area of only 11,500 sq miles !!!

Before we humans decided that there are 'breeds' of donkeys, every farm in Normandie had one or two donkeys as a supplement to their draft horses, to do general 'light' work around the farm, similarly throughout the western world before mechanisation. In Normandie some were grey, some were brown BUT THEY ALL worked. Now we try to define 'breeds' ( generally, in my opinion, regional differences ) and to confine breeding within very closely confined limits. As a result, we have consanguinity problems and genetic problems because there are simply not enough donkeys within each 'breed'.

To come back to the original question "Why so many donkey breeds in China while so few in the U.S.?", perhaps because the Chinese have followed our Western example ( in the US more in horses rather than donkeys but the principal stays the same ) and are creating 'breeds' to accentuate regional differences rather than because there are/were different 'breeds of donkey' within a given geographical area.

So the question is really "How to define a separate 'breed' of an animal" and how have the Chinese discovered so many more within their country...

Perhaps it is simply that in the US, four 'breeds' is enough. In France, 7 'breeds' and in Britain,

As a breeder of donkeys ( mainly ane normands!! ) I try to put the emphasis on training and using the animals rather than on their appearance and I respectfully suggest this is the better approach rather than trying to define 'breeds' according to our, human preferences.
 
Rhys Firth
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It's easier to trade with someone you speak the same language with.

French farmers trading French donkeys with other Frenchmen resulting in french breeds, meanwhile across the border German farmers trading german donkeys with other germans with a german donkey emerging.

Americans trading American donkeys all over since you all spoke English, (mostly).


Chinese speaking Mandarin throughout china is a relatively recent event, as recently as the Qing Empire (ended 1911 with the revolution) different regions had their own dialect which was at times incomprehensible to speakers of other dialects from other regions.

Mandarin as a universal Chinese language is essentially artificial. A Chongqing local speaking Chongqinghua is hard to undedrstand for a Bejing local speaking Putonghua which is the "official" Mandarin base as "RP" or "Queens English" is for English.



If you track breeds and regional specialities, borders of said local things are often quite congruent with language borders.
 
Tracy Kuykendall
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I would highly suspect that Chinese farmers are just plain old ordinary animal people. You get the same thing with any animal anywhere you go, that's how we ended up with thoroughbred, quarter, Morgan, and Walker horses, numerous hounds, curs, and other dogs. If there is an animal that is universally usable, people will find one individual that is particularly usable for their needs, they then try to reproduce that animal, if they are able to breed offspring that consistently replicate, a new "breed" is born. Then a few of those guys get together down at the local watering hole, they commence to expounding the virtues of their particular breed, the next thing you know your having a horse race, or coon hunt, or donkey haul, etc..
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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