26 Mar

An Introduction to Heritage Breeds


We’re really excited that as of this summer, we may be ready to move to our own farmette.  One of the first things we hope to do is to decide which farm animals to start with, and to that end I’m enjoying Dr. Sponenberg et al’s book, “An Introduction to Heritage Breeds“.   Why heritage breeds, you might wonder?  Here are a few reasons:

  • We’ve lost more heritage breeds over the past 100 years (due to commercial agricultural practices) than in the past 8 thousand years;
  • Heritage breeds have rich genetic diversity to thrive in every kind of ecosystem this earth has to offer, from Iceland to the Sahara, and loss of that genetic diversity would be a tragedy;
  • Modern commercial breeds are developed to grow to the most massive proportions possible in confined environments with feed provided.  This means less expensive meat per pound at the grocery store (a good thing), but also means that (for example) we’re eating specially bred white turkeys that have such massive breasts they cannot mount to mate so rely on artificial insemination technology and cannot forage for their own food and must have food provided (both bad things).  If we lost our heritage turkey breeds, we’d be left with no turkeys that could forage on their own or mate to reproduce on their own.
  • Heritage breeds thrive because they’ve been selected for thousands of years in various micro-climates for productivity and survival.
  • This productivity means low inputs are required, meaning they are small-scale sustainable since they’re resilient, economical and contribute to the future of sustainable agriculture.

In other words, hopefully all of us will consider heritage breeds whether for small-scale farming…or even possibly as pets.  Why not help save the rich genetic diversity of heritage breeds, and have a little more food security right at home?  As Dr. Sponenberg says, “Having more farmers make the connection with heritage breeds is the best assurance that all of these breeds will have a future.”

The Livestock Conservancy (long known as the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, or ALBC) was founded in 1977 in New England to help stop the decline and extinction of culturally and historically important heritage breeds.  They’ve created this rating system to determine the level of numerical and genetic threat to heritage breeds:

  • Critical:  Fewer than 200 known U.S. animals and fewer than 2,000 known global population.
  • Threatened: Fewer than  1,000 known U.S. animals and fewer than 5,000 known global population.
  • Watch: Fewer than 2,500 known  U.S. animals and fewer than 10,000 known global population.
  • Recovering: Breeds once in any of the above categories, but now known to be above Watch category thresholds.
  • Study: Breeds of genetic interest but for which a full definition of the breed is unavailable or for which historical or other documentation is inadequate.

This book covers heritage breeds for Cows (and all cattle), Chickens, Ducks, Donkeys, Geese, Goats, Horses, Pigs, Rabbits, Sheep, and Turkeys.  It’s full of great information, and you can get if from Amazon here: An Introduction to Heritage Breeds.

When we decide which heritage breeds we’re going to get for the farm, we’ll keep you updated!

Share:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page


  1. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Many thanks. Quite a lot of tips!

    canadian meds
    canadian online pharmacy
    northwest pharmacy

  2. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    This is nicely put. .
    online pharmacy without prescription canada online pharmacies legitimate online pharmacies online pharmacies canada
    visit poster’s website
    pharmacy near me
    pharmacy online store
    canadian online pharmacy
    canadian drug store

  3. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Seriously all kinds of beneficial advice!
    online discount pharmacy canadian cialis best canadian prescription prices canada pharmacy
    mexican online pharmacies
    meds online
    canadian drugs without prescription
    prescription prices comparison
    canadian pharmacy 365
    prescription drugs online without

  4. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Tips certainly utilized.!
    canadian pharmacy online canada canadian pharmacy online online pharmacy canadian drugs
    canadian pharmacies top best
    drug costs
    prescription drug cost
    canadian pharmacy
    ed meds online
    pharmacy canada

  5. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Many thanks! A good amount of content!
    canadian drug canadian pharmacies online canadian drugstore reviews canadian drugs
    canadian pharmacy
    rx price comparison
    discount pharmacy
    canadian pharmacies online
    prescription drug
    canadian drugstore

  6. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Wonderful information. Many thanks!
    mexican online pharmacies london drugs canada onlinecanadianpharmacy.com canadian viagra
    no prescription pharmacy
    northwest pharmacy canada
    mexican pharmacy online medications
    canada drug pharmacy
    discount pharmacy online
    drug price

  7. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Wow plenty of great knowledge!
    prescription drugs online without mexican pharmacies shipping to usa no prior prescription required pharmacy online pharmacies canada
    the canadian pharmacy
    pharmacy cost comparison
    buy drugs online
    online pharmacy usa
    mail order pharmacies
    canadian pharmacy uk delivery

  8. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Valuable write ups. With thanks.
    global pharmacy canada canada online pharmacies canadian online pharmacies prescription drugs canada pharmacy
    canadian pharmacy viagra
    canadian mail order pharmacies
    canada drugs online
    canadian pharmacies online
    discount pharmacy
    drug prices comparison

  9. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You actually explained this exceptionally well!
    canada online pharmacies canada drug canada pharmacies online canada drug
    visit poster’s website
    price prescription drugs
    canada pharmacy online reviews
    top rated online canadian pharmacies
    best online pharmacies canada
    canadian viagra

  10. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Appreciate it! Plenty of knowledge.
    canadian pharmacies online prescriptions canada pharmaceuticals online canadian online pharmacies prescription drugs canadian online pharmacies
    canadian pharmacy 365
    mexican online pharmacies
    canadian pharmacies without prescriptions
    best online pharmacy
    canadian prescription drugs
    discount prescription drug

  11. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Seriously quite a lot of helpful data!
    reputable canadian mail order pharmacies canadian pharmacies online canadian pharcharmy online canada pharmaceutical online ordering
    pharmacy online mexico
    board of pharmacy
    pharmacy drug store
    cialis canadian pharmacy
    best canadian pharmacies
    canada online pharmacies

  12. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Wow lots of wonderful facts.
    canadian online pharmacies canadianpharmacy walmart pharmacy price check canadian pharmacies-24h
    buying prescription drugs canada
    mexican pharmacies shipping to usa
    canadian pharmacy viagra brand
    rx pharmacy
    online pharmacy
    cialis online

Speak Your Mind