Cattle have been a part of the American agricultural landscape since the arrival of New World colonists beginning in 1493 with the second Spanish voyage. Cattle indigenous to Europe were brought with immigrants during the colonization of America, and the many different types of cattle they brought have provided milk, meat, leather, tallow, draft power, and pleasure for centuries. Modern breed associations maintain pedigree registries of purebred animals for each breed that descends from these colonial, as well as later, introductions. Registration of animals destined to become breeding stock is essential to the long-term security of the breeds. Registration validates purebred status of animals and assures their availability for conservation by future generations.
Many cattle breeds that were once core components of regional cultures are now in danger of extinction. As cultures are homogenized and historic agricultural traditions abandoned, the flavors and food traditions that revolved around specific breeds are threatened as well.
In response to this threat, The Livestock Conservancy is defining Heritage Cattle, and the Heritage Beef and Milk that come from them. This ensures that the legacy left to succeeding generations has as much genetic breadth and biological robustness as the current generation has itself inherited from previous generations. The definition draws attention to endangered breeds of cattle, supports their genetic integrity and long-term conservation, encourages management strategies that are biologically appropriate and agriculturally sustainable, and celebrates the cultural and culinary traditions of these breeds. Cattle and cattle products marketed as Heritage must meet all of the following criteria.
Heritage Cattle must adhere to all of the following:
Once animals have met the criteria of the Heritage Cattle definition, their products too much evaluated against the criteria established for Heritage Beef, Heritage Milk, and Heritage Milk Products.
Heritage Cattle Products must come from:
A. Definition of Heritage Beef Products:
Beef animals and their products marketed as Heritage Beef must:
B. Definition of Heritage Milk or Heritage Milk Products:
Milk marketed as Heritage Milk must:
Products made with Heritage Milk:
Terms like “heirloom,” “antique,” old-fashioned,” and “old timey” imply heritage and are understood to be synonymous with the definition provided here.