The Principle of Eater-Based Conservation
The best way to ensure the survival of rare and endangered livestock is to build consumer demand. Unlike endangered animals in a zoo, farm stock has to pay its way. These animals need a market to encourage farmers to keep them. The more demand, the less rare they become.
Why are heritage breeds at risk?
Mostly because they do not fit with modern, intensive systems of confinement production. They are more suited to the outdoors and to a natural diet without artificial growth promoters. This means that they mature more slowly and are not so profitable for agribusiness.
In North America, over one-third of all breeds of livestock are considered rare or in decline. In Europe, half of the breeds that existed at the turn of the last century have become extinct; a third of the remaining 770 breeds are in danger of disappearing over the next 20 years.
Your food lives a happier life.
Rare and traditional breeds are well suited to small family farms and receive more individual care and attention. They are more likely to be treated as something special than as a commodity, enjoying sunlight outdoors, grazing, rooting and expressing their natural instincts.
Why are traditional and rare breeds important?
Modern agro-industry relies on a very small number of genetically very uniform breeds. The population is so inbred, that they are likely to react to any problem, say, a new disease, in a similar way. Traditional breeds constitute a vast gene pool that we risk losing at our own peril.
Support the Small Farmer
Traditional livestock breeds remain in very few numbers on very few farms, championed by a dedicated breed of farmer that believes in the importance of genetic diversity. These farmers recognize the value of breeds that may produce fewer offspring or take longer to reach market weight. But these farmers need to survive. When you choose to eat heritage meat, you support the traditional small farmer.