2012 ALBC Conservation Priority List | Living the Country Life

2012 ALBC Conservation Priority List

We're all familiar with the concept of endangered wildlife, but there is endangered livestock, too.The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy has a list you should review.

Radio interview source: Alison Martin, Research & Technical Program Director, American Livestock Breeds Conservancy

The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy monitors the endangerment level of rare domestic livestock and poultry breeds.
Alison Martin is the organization's research and technical program director. She says there are 189 breeds on the list this year. Sixty-one of them are considered critically endangered. 
"What we're trying to do is to promote the breeds," she says. "In order to preserve the breeds, we have to give them their jobs back and some of these breeds are fantastic on small farms. They've got a lot of potential in those kinds of environments where they have fallen out of favor for the mass production of proteins that we find in the grocery store. So, once that genetic resource is lost, it can never be recovered."
Breeds on the list include Pineywoods cattle, Redcap chickens, and Mulefoot pigs. Martin says this year's most dramatic change was the move of the Newfoundland Pony to the critical category. There are fewer than 250 breeding animals left in the entire world. 
Fortunately, the report isn't all grim. Several rabbit breeds have improved their status thanks to an emerging trend in rabbit keeping and showing. The Myotonic, or Tennessee Fainting Goat, numbers are also recovering. 
For those breeds still in need, Martin says there are several ways you can help. 
"One is help create jobs for rare breeds, either on your farm or on the farms of other people," says Martin. "But if you don't have your own farm yet, then you can support the rare breeds by buying from local farmers that do have these breeds. There are some fabulous products from these heritage breeds like the eggs, and the cheeses, and the meats, and so on that come from them. A lot of rich flavors there."

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