The Livestock Conservancy is excited to award more than $22,000 to 12 rare breed farmers, ranchers, shepherds, and breed organizations across the country. Now in its fourth year, The Livestock Conservancy Microgrants Program puts funding into the hands of our most important conservation partners – the people doing the hard work day after day to steward these genetic treasures for the security of tomorrow’s food and fiber sources.
“Small financial awards can make a big difference for heritage breeders,” said Dr. Alison Martin, Livestock Conservancy Executive Director. “These strategic investments were selected as excellent examples of livestock conservation in action across the United States by our panel of judges.”
New in 2021 are microgrants from Premier 1 Supplies and for heritage breed associations, clubs, and registries. The Premier 1 Supplies Microgrant will provide funding for fencing and related needs for projects benefiting heritage breeds listed on the Conservation Priority List. “Premier 1 and its customers have long valued raising livestock and poultry,” said Ben Rothe, Chief Executive Officer at Premier 1 Supplies. “We also know how hard it is to get started. That’s why we’ve partnered with The Livestock Conservancy to encourage and help future farmers to conserve traditional breeds and promote biodiversity on our farms via microgrants.”
Congratulations to all of our recipients representing 8 of the 11 species listed on the Conservation Priority List. Learn more about the 2021 recipients and the breeds they are saving from extinction below.
Breed Association Microgrants (NEW)
- American Cotswold Records Association (ACRA) plans to improve communication and education, and to link owners of ACRA Cotswold sheep with those interested in the breed. They will use grant funds to revise the website and to publish a Flock Book that includes members, their stock, and Cotswold-specific information. This will help Cotswold fans and breeders to find breeding stock and other important genetic information.
- The goal of the Lippitt Morgan Preservation Project is to collect semen of stallions of several Lippitt Morgan bloodlines and store it with USDA for future preservation of the original Morgan horse. They plan to re-grant $500 each to four breeders to defray the cost of the training, collection, freezing, and shipment of their stallion’s semen to the USDA.
- Eliseo Curley and Drake Mace received hay and feed courtesy of Standlee Western Forage to help their critically endangered flocks of Navajo-Churro sheep through severe drought in New Mexico.
- Shannon Hawkins received support to help collect semen of an aging Marsh Tacky stallion. The stallion is from a rare bloodline that would have been lost without collection to use in future breeding.
- Robin Collins received support to help feed her herd of 50 threatened Wilbur-Cruce line of Colonial Spanish horses during the drought in California.
The competitive Microgrant program was launched in 2018 and has now awarded more than $78,311 to small farmers and heritage breed stewards. Grant divisions now include National, Youth, Emergency, Breed Association, and sponsored grants such as this year’s Premier 1 Supplies Microgrant. The Livestock Conservancy is grateful for the private individuals, corporations, and organizations who have provided vitally important charitable funds to prevent extinctions and save genetic diversity.
The Livestock Conservancy is the leading umbrella organization for rare and endangered livestock and poultry breeds in the United States. More than 150 breeds such as Milking Devon cattle, Mulefoot hogs, and American Chinchilla rabbits currently appear on The Livestock Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List. Our annual rankings reflect known populations across the United States and around the world. Conservation of North American breeds is especially important as these are found nowhere else in the world.
If you would like to learn how to support heritage breed livestock, farmers, and organizations through a Livestock Conservancy Microgrant, please contact Karena Elliott by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credits: All photos are courtesy of the microgrant recipients.
Why is genetic diversity important?
Like all ecological systems, agriculture depends on genetic diversity to adapt to an ever-changing environment. Genetic diversity in domestic animals is revealed in distinct breeds, each with different characteristics and uses.
Traditional, historic breeds retain essential attributes for survival and self-sufficiency – fertility, foraging ability, longevity, maternal instincts and resistance to disease and parasites. As agriculture changes, this genetic diversity may be needed for a broad range of uses and opportunities. Once lost, genetic diversity is gone forever.
What Are Heritage Breeds?
Heritage breeds are traditional livestock breeds that were raised by our forefathers. These are the breeds of a bygone era, before industrial agriculture became a mainstream practice. These breeds were carefully selected and bred over time to develop traits that made them well-adapted to the local environment and they thrived under farming practices and cultural conditions that are very different from those found in modern agriculture.
Heritage animals once roamed America’s pastoral landscape, but today these breeds are in danger of extinction. Modern agriculture has changed, causing many of these breeds to fall out of favor. Heritage breeds store a wealth of genetic resources that are important for our future and the future of our agricultural food system.