The Livestock Conservancy is excited to award more than $20,000 to rare breed farmers, ranchers, shepherds, and breed organizations across the country. Now in its fifth year, the competitive Microgrants Program has awarded more than $76,000 to our most important conservation partners – the people doing the hard work day after day to steward these genetic treasures. Three-quarters of the world’s food supply draws on just 12 crops and 5 livestock species. However, heritage breeders like the ones below are working to restore biodiversity and to educate their communities about the importance of biodiversity for the security of tomorrow’s food systems and fiber sources.
“Premier 1 Supplies and its customers have long valued raising livestock and poultry,” said Ben Rothe, Chief Executive Officer at Premier 1 Supplies and Microgrant donor. “That’s why we’ve partnered with The Livestock Conservancy to encourage and help future farmers conserve breeds and promote biodiversity on our farms.”
The Microgrants program provides up to $2,000 for heritage breed conservation projects at the National, Youth, and Breed Association levels. New this year is support from KageWerks, Inc. for a project focused on one of the 16 endangered rabbit breeds on the Conservation Priority List.
“I have a life-long passion for rabbits,” said Kevin Whaley, founder of KageWerks, Inc. He raises several heritage breeds in California, including Belgian Hares and Giant Chinchillas. Whaley created a modern solid-floor cage design for rabbit’s special needs and is excited to support heritage breeders through The Livestock Conservancy’s first rabbit-focused Microgrant.
Louis Eubanks, Bob Gjerdingen, Drs. Pam Hand and Will Hueston, Pat Lusted, and Standlee Premium Western Forage are additional 2022 donors who support microgrants for heritage livestock and poultry conservation.
“Small financial awards can make a big difference for heritage breeders,” said Dr. Alison Martin, Livestock Conservancy Executive Director. “These strategic investments were selected by a panel of more than 50 judges as excellent examples of livestock conservation in action.”
While it takes a long time to move a breed to the next category on the Conservation Priority List, Microgrants have targeted nearly one third of the more than 150 breeds on the list in just five years. From improving infrastructure to expanding educational opportunities, these investments help secure and sustain heritage breeds in a changing world.
“Being a member of The Livestock Conservancy for more than 20 years, I have certainly enjoyed reading about the wonderful work the organization has done to promote heritage breeds,” Pat Lusted said. “I have not lived the lifestyle to keep animals but wanted to help. I find Microgrants are a great way to pay it forward. I especially like the synergy of the two Puerto Rican Paso Fino horse recipients this year. Creating opportunities to work together is how we move the needle to save heritage breeds from extinction.”
Congratulations to all of the recipients this year, representing 7 of the 11 species on the Conservation Priority List. Learn more about the 2022 recipients and the breeds they are saving from extinction below.
The Livestock Conservancy is the leading umbrella organization for rare and endangered livestock and poultry breeds in the United States. More than 170 breeds such as Puerto Rican Paso Fino horses, Randall Lineback cattle, Sebastopol geese, Dorset Horn sheep, and Blanc de Hotot rabbits are endangered and appear on The Livestock Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List. The annual rankings reflect known populations worldwide. Conservation of North American breeds, such as Java chickens, Red Wattle pigs, and Hog Island sheep, is especially important as these are found nowhere else in the world.
If you would like to learn more about supporting heritage breed livestock and poultry farmers, youth, and organizations through The Livestock Conservancy’s Microgrant Program, please email Karena Elliott at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications for 2023 Microgrants will open in June on The Livestock Conservancy’s website at livestockconservancy.org.
Photo credits: All photos are submitted courtesy of the microgrant recipients. Photos courtesy of Braydn Starkenburg’s family were taken by Olivia Spaight Creative.