Eat Them To Save Them: Heritage Breeds

What is a "heritage breed" anyhow?

Traditional livestock breeds that were raised by our forefathers. These are the breeds of a bygone era, before industrial agriculture became a mainstream practice.  

How does eating heritage breeds save them? 

It’s simple really, we have to build consumer demand - by eating them - and encourage more farmers to raise these animals, so that we can eat more!

Why save them?

Modern agriculture relies on a population of genetically similar animals that have been bred to quickly produce very uniform products.  This genetic similarity in combination with crowded living conditions makes these animals more susceptible to disease, which translates to a risk to our food supply.  Saving our heritage breeds ensures that we don’t lose any more valuable genetics and survival traits, such as mothering instincts and foraging ability, that have been bred out of most of our country’s meat, milk, and egg supply!

Why are these breeds at risk?

In the last 15 years over 190 livestock breeds have gone extinct worldwide and another 1,500 others are at risk.  Heritage breeds just don’t fit into the modern commercial agricultural system where animals have been bred to produce more milk, meat, eggs, fiber, and offspring, and to do it more quickly than nature intended.  As farmers raced to increase profits by producing more, these old breeds were forgotten. 

How can you help?

Purchase locally produced meats, eggs, and milk.  Ask your farmer what breed of cattle, pigs, and poultry he/sheis raising.  Ask why your farmer chose those breeds!  Most of us small farmers choose breeds that work for us based either on temperament of the animals or suitability for our land and local climate.  Sometimes we based our choice on taste.  Many small farmers are choosing heritage breeds because they still perform well at a smaller scale of production where they are allowed to live more natural lives. Find out more about our Red Devon cattle here.  Find out more about out Gloucestershire Old Spots Pigs here.