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December 06, 2011

The Livestock Conservancy - A Valuable Organization

The Livestock Conservancy is a nonprofit membership organization working to protect over 180 breeds of livestock and poultry from extinction.  Its mission is to protect the genetic diversity in livestock and poultry species through the conservation and promotion of endangered breeds. These rare breeds are part of our national heritage and represent a unique piece of the earth's bio-diversity.

Karakul Sheep
I have been a member of the Livestock Conservancy (formerly the American Livestock Breed Conservancy or ALBC) for many years and became a board member in 2012.

Each year a conference is presented with extraordinary speakers presenting fascinating topics.  I would encourage you to attend each year's conference.  This year's conference is November 18&19, 2014 and is in Austin, Texas.  A few examples of previous year's presentations:

Handspinners and Knitters Want to Buy Your Rare Breed Wool!
Tail to Snout: What It Takes to Be Successful With Heritage Hogs
Rare Breeds Farm Tours, The Delight is in the Details
Tradition and Techniques: Learning to Cook with Heritage Breed Meats
Uncommon Fare: People Want Interesting Food
How Heritage Chickens Can Help Save the World! 

I would also encourage everyone to become a member.  Annual dues are only $45 and the four main benefits are:
1) You are supporting an organization with a vital mission of saving rare breeds of livestock and poultry
2) Quarterly newsletter/magazine with excellent articles on how people are saving and using rare breeds throughout the USA
3) Rare Breeds, Breeders and Products Directory
4) Access to the technical and research staff of the Livestock Conservancy.  I have used them myself!

Watusi cow and calf

You may own some rare breeds of poultry now!  Following is how the Livestock Conservancy ranks different breeds of livestock and poultry.  For each category, I have listed the breeds we offer.

Critical: Fewer than 500 breeding birds in the US and five or fewer primary breeders
    Ducks - Welsh Harlequin
    Geese - Buff, Pilgrim and Roman Tufted
Threatened:  Fewer than 1000 breeding birds in the US and seven or fewer primary breeders
    Ducks - Buff and Cayuga
    Geese - Sebastopol
Watch:  Fewer than 5000 breeding birds in the US and ten or fewer primary breeders
    Ducks - Khaki Campbell, Rouen, Black Swedish and Blue Swedish and all our Runners
    Geese - African, Brown Chinese, White Chinese, Large Dewlap Toulouse
Recovering: Breeds that were in another category but have now exceeded Watch numbers
Study: Breeds that are of genetic interest but do not qualify otherwise

Buff Geese - Critical
I was very impressed with the professionalism and passion the staff has with their mission.  It is not a large staff but it is a very dedicated group of believers.

Jeannette, Ryan, Angelique, Chuck, Jennifer, Michele, Anneke, and Alison at a recent Conference

The Livestock Conservancy realizes one of the the best ways to preserve a breed is to make it a profitable animal to raise and sell.  Only then will there be more demand for that breed and more breeders.  Hence the emphasis is on the unique attributes some breeds have in terms of meat taste and texture, capacity to handle challenging environments, ability to reproduce and care for their young, wool quality, etc.  Consumers want a choice in what they purchase.  Heritage breeds of livestock and poultry provide that alternative.

The main activities of the ALBC are:
Research on breed characteristics and populations, and publish an annual Conservation Priority List
Education about genetic diversity, breed attributes, and the role of livestock in a more sustainable agriculture.
Technical, marketing, and promotional support to a network of breeders, breed associations, and farmers.
Assistance to gene banks to identify important genetic materials that should be collected from endangered breeds.
Genetic rescues of threatened populations.

The Livestock Conservancy is a valuable organization to farmers and consumers - now and in the future.  Please consider joining this vital effort to preserve rare livestock and poultry breeds.   I am a member and director and wholly support the mission of the Livestock Conservancy.


  1. Congratulations on joining the board, and thanks for serving. I didn't realize Welsh Harlequins were critical status. Good reason to order a few in the spring! Maybe a pair of critical Pilgrims too... do you anticipate having Pilgrim goslings for sale this spring?

  2. Thank you. It is a very worthwhile organization. Yes, we will have Pilgrim in the spring but I would suggest you order in February.

  3. I have always been amazed at the professionalism of the ALBC. I wish every poultry organization would operate even close to as well as the ALBC. Congratulations on being invited as a board member. I have been a member for a few years now and really do value what they offer. I might suggest that they offer a student membership for college or younger members that wish to join. Or even maybe a discount membership that recieves paperless newsletters and just uses the website breeders directory. What is your stance on them not including the color variety in the breeders directory?