Livestock production faces major challenges through the coincidence of major drivers of change, some with conflicting directions. These are:
1. An unprecedented global change in demands for traditional livestock products such as meat, milk and eggs.
2. Large changes in the demographic and regional distribution of these demands.
3. The need to reduce poverty in rural communities by providing sustainable livelihoods.
4. The possible emergence of new agricultural outputs such as bio-fuels making a significant impact upon traditional production systems.
5. A growing awareness of the need to reduce the environmental impact of livestock production.
6. The uncertainty in the scale and impact of climate change. This paper explores these challenges from a scientific perspective in the face of the large-scale and selective erosion of our animal genetic resources, and concludes thai there is a stronger and more urgent need than ever before to secure the livestock genetic resources available to humankind through a comprehensive global conservation programme.