The History of Domesticated Livestock


For centuries, humans have been domesticating animals for various purposes, including food, transportation, clothing, and labor. Domestication of livestock has played an essential role in the advancement of civilization. Today, we have a plethora of domesticated animals ranging from cows to chickens, sheep to goats, and pigs to horses. The history of domesticated livestock dates back to prehistoric times and has seen tremendous changes ever since.

The oldest domesticated livestock animals are believed to be goats and sheep in the Middle East. The domestication of these animals dates back to 11,000 years ago. The goats and sheep were initially used for their meat, wool, and milk. The domestication of cows, which is believed to have happened about 9,000 years ago, marked the beginning of agricultural production, given the cows’ ability to plow and cultivate the land. Cows are thus regarded as a crucial factor in the development of human civilization.

Pigs were also domesticated about 9,000 years ago, and they offered an advantage to human populations due to their ability to turn waste products into food products. Pigs are highly adaptable and can feed on almost anything, making them efficient in most societies worldwide.

Horses, on the other hand, were domesticated around 6000 years ago in the steppes of Ukraine and Kazakhstan and were used initially mainly for transportation. Their use in agriculture came much later. They played an instrumental role in the expansion of trade, religion, and power. Horses were also used in warfare, facilitating expansionist empires and kingdoms like the Mongol and Roman Empires.

Domesticated livestock opened up new avenues for human societies, allowing them to implement agricultural practices, which led to the cultivation of grains and vegetables. This agricultural system allowed for food security and allowed communities to grow into cities and towns. Furthermore, the domestication of livestock led to the establishment of specialized skills that played a vital role in the human society.

Over time, humans changed the livestock’s genetic makeup to obtain desired traits, leading to the creation of new breeds. For instance, cows were selectively bred to produce more milk, and sheep were bred for their wool production. The cross-breeding has led to the creation of hybrid species that display particular advantages over purebred animals.


The domestication of livestock has played a vital role in human civilization, allowing humans to secure a stable source of food and start cultivating farms. The history of domesticated animals is long and vast, and it is an ongoing process, with humans today continuing to improve and upgrade their breeds. By domesticating animals, humans have not only grown in number, but they have also advanced their societal norms and values, thus expanding the definition of what it means to live in a community.

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