Those of you who’ve bought my book will notice that a quite a few photos in the animal breed sections were taken by Jeannette Beranger of the Livestock Conservancy. Super shots of cows, pigs, sheep and chickens you’ve never heard of before. Like these…
Jeannette really helped us find these rare or heritage breed images, so I thought you’d like to know more about the organization she’s with. It’s interesting…and important.
The Livestock Conservancy was formed in the 1970s, when people began to realize that traditional agricultural livestock breeds were rapidly disappearing as meat production became more industrialized. And I’m proud to say that the organization began in my home state of Vermont when (quoting from the org’s website), “a handful of concerned citizens gathered at the Vermont Department of Agriculture to sign incorporate papers for the American Minor Breeds Conservancy (the original name of The Livestock Conservancy).”
Now based in North Carolina, the Livestock Conservancy’s focus is on making sure that our agricultural future is secure by saving endangered breeds from extinction, building up their populations and promoting them to the public.
Why? ‘Cause much of the reason why these breeds were kept viable by farmers for so long is that each brings something special to the table. Things like especially delectable meat, or superb milk, or extraordinary fertility, or – like the Florida Cracker cow – the ability to prosper in challenging environments. Many of these breeds were early contributors to the gene pool of commercial meat animals – endowing them with qualities that make our food taste better, or adding genetic traits for increased fertility or soundness or…
As some of you will know, genetic diversity is increasingly endangered through the practices of large-scale agricultural production. If we lose diversity, then we place ourselves at greater risk. This – as most of you know – is not only important in the case of meat animals, but also the plant world, which continues to give us treatments for many diseases. Look up “yew” and the cancer drug “taxol” and you’ll get the picture. Or “willow” and “aspirin”.
Back to the Livestock Conservancy. Their website is fascinating, with pictures of many animal breeds you won’t have heard of. The list includes goats, donkeys, horses, cattle, chickens, sheep, rabbits, ducks, geese and turkeys – a page for each breed, with photos!
Why not support them by becoming a member?