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We attended your annual conference last year in Santa Rosa, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and came back home even more committed to the preservation of at risk livestock breeds. - Cindy and Rick Gagnon, CO

Conference Programs

2016 National Conference

Friday Kick-off Banquet Keynote: Tom Beeston

Featuring a kick-off banquet keynote address from Tom Beeston, Chief Executive Officer of The Rare Breed Survival Trust (RBST) of the UK.

Tom is a British dairy farmer who has always worked around food, farming and wildlife; he became the CEO of RBST three years ago. RBST,  like The Livestock Conservancy, works to secure the future of rare and native breeds of farm livestock; it maintains the UK's National Livestock Gene Bank, something made possible only by working in partnership with others.

Read more about Tom

2016 Program Highlights

Deborah Neimann-BoehleLearn from Deborah Niemann-Boehle as she shares her insights and experiences in the Creating and Marketing Value-Added Products with Rare Breeds Clinic.

In 2002, Deborah relocated her suburban Chicago family to 32 acres on a creek "in the middle of nowhere" where they began producing 100% of their meat, eggs, and dairy products by raising heritage animals. Today they also sell meat, eggs, soap, and fiber products. She is the author of three books on sustainable living:  Homegrown and Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living, Ecothrifty: Cheaper, Greener Choices for a Happier, Healthier Life, and Raising Goats Naturally: The Complete Guide to Milk, Meat, and More.

Read more from Deborah

EXPANDED - 2 Part!

Breed Association Routes to Success

During the morning session Jeannette Beranger will be discussing the nuts and bolts of operating an association drawing upon the models of successful breed associations. The afternoon session, Finding Support for Your Organization, will be led by Livestock Conservancy board member, Judy Wollen, who brings a wealth of fundraising and relationship building experience in her many years as a resource development specialist for Heifer International and other charitable organizations and professional associations in the US and abroad. Livestock Conservancy staff member Ryan Walker will co-lead the second session, focusing on online development strategies using email, websites, social media, and more.



2016 Program Schedule

Thursday Meet & Greet Poster Session and Reception (7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.)

FRIDAY MORNING PRE-CONFERENCE CLINICS (8:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.) ------------------------------

Creating and Marketing Value-Added Products with Rare Breeds ($69)
How can you make money with your rare breed livestock? In this three-hour workshop, you’ll get enough information to decide if you want to sell meat “on the hoof” or as individual cuts, what it takes to make and sell soap, and how to start a dairy to sell fluid milk or cheese. Learn about selling fiber or roving, yarn, or finished products - like scarves or rugs - even if you don’t know how to knit or weave. You will be able to see, smell, and feel sample finished products. And, you’ll learn how to successfully market your products using proven social media techniques..

Speaker: Deborah Niemann-Boehle
Location: Hampshire College, Franklin Pattison Hall, 893 West St, Amherst, MA 01002
More about Deborah:  In 2002, Deborah relocated her suburban Chicago family to 32 acres on a creek "in the middle of nowhere" where they began producing 100% of their meat, eggs and dairy products by raising heritage animals. Today they also sell meat, eggs, soap, and fiber products. She is the author of three books on sustainable living: Homegrown and Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living, Ecothrifty: Cheaper, Greener Choices for a Happier, Healthier Life, and Raising Goats Naturally: The Complete Guide to Milk, Meat, and More.,

Introduction to Cattle Management ($69)
Join Pete Solis, the livestock and pasture manager for Hampshire College Farm, and Amye Gulezian as they discuss the management of the herd of Dutch Belted cattle at Hampshire College. Amye and Pete will describe the methods they use to manage the herd of Dutch Belted cattle at Hampshire College. Amye will also discuss the class she developed to enable more students to interact with the herd; this class includes information on safe handling, husbandry, reproduction, nutrition, and rotational grazing.

Speaker: Pete Solis & Amye Gulezian, Hampshire College Farm
Location: Hampshire College Farm, Thorpe Barn
More about Amye and Pete: Amye Gulezian has been studying agriculture at Hampshire College. For the last 2 years, she has focused her study on the production and management of the small herd of Dutch Belted. She is interested in the benefits that heritage breeds bring to agriculture and is hoping to grow the herd at Hampshire. Pete Solis is the Livestock and Pasture Manager at the Hampshire College Farm Center. He manages faculty interactions, student interactions, student workers, cattle, pigs, lambs, chickens and a llama.

Breed Association - Routes to Success (Part 1) ($29)
The nuts and bolts of operating an association (panel discussion)
The nuts and bolts of operating an association (panel discussion)
Breed associations, registries and clubs are vital to the conservation of endangered breeds but many struggle with turnover, conflict, and not having enough time to “do it all”. It doesn’t have to be this way! Drawing upon the models of successful breed associations, this workshop   covers topics such as how to set up and run an efficient registry, manage a studbook, promote the breed, and avoid conflict. The afternoon session will focus on fundraising opportunities and strategies for non-profit breed clubs and associations.

Speakers: Brian Larson, Jeannette Beranger
Location: Hampshire College, Franklin Pattison Hall, 893 West St, Amherst, MA 01002
More about the speakers:  Jeannette Beranger currently manages eight breed registries for rare breeds of cattle, sheep, horses and pigs. The Livestock Conservancy partners with over 150 breed associations and clubs to conserve and promote individual breeds, and they provide support and training to breed association in challenging times. Brian Larson has been a champion of the Lincoln Longwool breed for 30 years and is considered a Master Breeder among his peers. His strict selection for standard while keeping his eye on diversity has created one of the finest flocks in the country. To improve diversity for the breed in the U.S., he was one of the last people to import genetics from England and has carefully managed the bloodlines within his flocks.

FRIDAY AFTERNOON PRE-CONFERENCE CLINICS (1:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.) --------------------------------

Breed Association - Routes to Success (Part 2) ($29)
Where’s the money and how can my association get some?
Current statistics show that Americans donated almost $260 Billion in 2014. Fundraising makes so many people uncomfortable…but with training and preparation, anyone can learn to do it – and perhaps even enjoy it! This workshop will be active and interactive so bring your Board members, volunteers, and good friends. Learn facts, best practices, and helpful information presented through a series of interactive and group exercises and small group discussions, and do case development work, which is helpful no matter how much skill a fundraiser has. Topics include: What Are We Selling? Where’s the Money? Why People Give, The Cycle of Fundraising, Creating A Fundraising Menu, and, “Six Quick Asks.”  This workshop is geared toward fundraising beginners.

Speakers: Judy Wollen & Ryan Walker
Location: Hampshire College, Franklin Pattison Hall, 893 West St, Amherst, MA 01002
More about speakers: Judy Wollen is a retired resource development specialist. Her fundraising experience includes working in the US and abroad with charitable organizations and professional associations. Ryan is the Conservancy’s Marketing and Communications Manager and has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of North Texas and is currently finishing a Master of Science degree in Agriculture & Consumer Resources from Tarleton State University. He is a former board member of the Young Non-Profit Professionals Network and has extensive experience in maximizing social media outreach.

Micro Dairying ($69)  **SOLD OUT**
Have you ever wanted to start a micro-dairy using heritage breeds? This on-farm clinic lets participants view various breeds of cattle and dairy goats (on the Conservation Priority List) and see the differences in size, color, and temperament. Learn about the various classes of dairy products, and taste milk and other products made from traditional dairy breeds; discover resources that can help with processing milk – including classes, forums, groups, and consultants; and find out how to get licensed to ship milk or sell raw milk. Learn the business aspects of setting up a micro-dairy including equipment needs, understanding costs, setting goals, and implementing a strategic plan to make their diary a success. Hear from regional producers who use heritage breeds who will offer their advice and share their experiences. This workshop will be appropriate for a home dairy or for potential commercial dairies.

Speaker: Shannon Nichols
Location: On Farm: 111 Teawaddle Hill Road, Leverett, MA 01054 DIRECTIONS
More about Shannon: Shannon is a Regional Planner specializing in Food Systems. Her research focus is on public perception of conservation land and how this informs land use management decisions. She has also worked extensively on dairy value chain analysis with special emphasis on traditional dairy systems, breeds and dairy processing.

Sheep Artificial Insemination ($69)
Techniques, perspectives, realities, and hope
Discover how to successfully do non-surgical artificial insemination.
Dr. Purdy’s interactive presentation explains the three elements that are essential to success with non-surgical artificial insemination of sheep: the ram- including semen collection, quality evaluation, freezing, thawing, and semen handling; estrous synchronization - understanding what the hormones are doing and the importance of following the protocols; and non-surgical artificial insemination - loading the insemination gun to deposition of the semen. Once you complete this clinic, even if you have never used these techniques, you should have the confidence to attempt them with your own flock and understand the necessary protocols to ensure the highest probability of success. Although this presentation is intended to educate producers and will be taught with that perspective in mind, the material will also be of great value to those in the frozen semen industry who have the expertise but may not know the complete set of techniques (estrous synchronization, semen preservation, artificial insemination) for this species. Dr. Purdy will provide his contact information to attendees so he can be a resource in the future.

Speakers: Dr. Phil Purdy
Location: Hampshire College, Franklin Pattison Hall, 893 West St, Amherst, MA 01002
More about Dr. Purdy: Dr. Purdy is an Animal Physiologist with expertise in germplasm (semen, eggs, embryos, DNA, tissues, organs) collection, cryopreservation and utilization from all agricultural species.  He also develops methods to evaluate germplasm quality before and after cryopreservation.  These skills are utilized for development of the germplasm collection at the national repository.

FRIDAY EVENING CONFERENCE (6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.) -----------------------------------

Kick-off Banquet, Silent Auction & Keynote

Secrets to Success
Make friends because …
-- They can share creativity, resources, responsibility and risk and can feed off each other’s energy and enthusiasm.
-- With their help you will attract more funding from a diverse range of sources
-- Friends can see different issues, solutions and offer support
-- Friends increase the potential for productivity/efficiency and more effective delivery of information.
Tom Beeston will talk about how organizations can partner together to further rare breed conservation. Whether it’s with like-minded organizations, universities, breed associations, or even celebrities, he will explore how “friends” can help each other more effectively deliver their programs and fulfil their missions.
Speaker: Tom Beeston, Chief Executive Officer, Rare Breeds Survival Trust
More about Tom: Tom is an English dairy farmer who's always worked around food, farming and wildlife, he took the reins at RBST around three years ago. RBST like The Livestock Conservancy works to secure the future of rare and native breeds of farm livestock. RBST holds the UK's National Livestock Gene Bank, something only possible by working in partnership with others.

SATURDAY CONFERENCE (7:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.) -----------------------------------

BREAKFAST (7:00 a.m. – 7:45 a.m.)
Location: Hampshire College Dining Commons

PLENARY (8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.)
The Next 40 Years
Speaker: Alison Martin, Executive Director, The Livestock Conservancy

BREAKOUT SESSIONS (9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.)

Shetland sheep: Soil Carbon Restoration Superheroes
We are all concerned about the challenges climate change is expected to bring in the future. What if we could do something about it right now on our own farms? Pulling carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sequestering it in our soils where it belongs is crucial. Ruminants on pasture are one of the keys to sequestering carbon. Heritage breeds, like Shetland sheep, thrive on a 100% grass-based system. These hardy, thrifty little superheroes have been feeding and clothing people for well over 1,000 years in the harshest of environments. Come find out how Shetland genetics have served us so well in the past and can help mitigate climate change in the future.

Speaker:  Erin Matica
More about Erin: Erin Matica and her family live in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts where they raise Shetland sheep, Nigerian dwarf dairy goats, and heritage breed poultry on their small farm. She teaches a sustainable agriculture class at Northstar’s Self-directed Learning Center for teens in Sunderland.

Selecting Cattle for Success
Recognizing and breeding the best stock in your pasture
Randall Cattle and many rare breeds suffer from small starting populations. Without a critical eye to the future wellbeing of any herd, they will become inbred beyond repair. Your eye is a good tool, but for a beginner something quantifiable is better. You will learn how to measure your way to success and how to train your eye to evaluate animal health. You will learn some cattle anatomy, and many nutritional tricks that can “cure” all sorts of fertility problems. You will also learn how to arrange breeding stock so that you will always have animals for sale, always be ready to destock for a drought, and keep your winter bills as low as possible. Passing knowledge of cattle, and pasture management is expected, but novices will gain entre to a secret world modern farming has forgotten. This is a talk about “doing” from a “git’er did” farm that has a high value on aesthetics! Pretty SELLS!

Speaker: Dugan Tillman-Brown
More about Dugan: Dugan is an ex-oil field R&D turned renaissance family farmer. He is a Jack of all trades - making  productive farms from scrub land and stripped properties. He loves breathing life into old style farming with modern technology and information. Firefly farms raise pigs, chickens, cattle, ducks, turkeys, and soon sheep, and rabbits.

The Heritage Chicks in the Classroom Project
For the past three years, the Livestock Conservancy’s Chicks in the Classroom Project has been a great success and has reached thousands of elementary students to promote heritage chicken breeds while teaching the children about the importance of diversity and its conservation. Learn how you can set up a program like this in your region and enjoy teaching children about the animals you raise while having them hatch  chicks for you in return.

Speakers: Jeannette Beranger & Ginger Cunningham
More about Jeannette and Ginger: Jeannette has been Research & Technical Programs Manager with The Livestock Conservancy for more than a decade and maintains a heritage breed farm with her family. Ginger Cunningham is Program Assistant, 4-H Youth Development at the North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Chatham County Center. She coordinates with local schools as part of their 4-H embryology curriculum and assists with incubation and observation of growing embryos. 

BREAKOUT SESSIONS (10:45 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.)

Milking Devon Cattle: Past, Present and Into The Future
John will give a history of the Milking Devon breed from 1623 when Devons first came to Plimoth, MA. Till present day. Bonnie will discuss her experiences in creating a niche market for Devon meat and developing value added products such as ravioli. Together, they will talk about the value of becoming a member of the American Milking Devon Cattle Association and the importance of preserving this heritage breed!

**talk will be followed by the American Milking Devon Association meeting, in the same room, starting at 12:30pm.

Speakers: John and Bonnie Hall
More about John and Bonnie: John Hall, president of the American Milking Devon Cattle Association, who is life-long Devon breeder. John’s family has raised and bred Devons in Westbrook, CT since 1635. Bonnie Hall, registrar of the American Milking Devon Cattle Association. Bonnie has been the Registrar for two years. She markets the Devon beef products from their farm at farmer’s markets and in their Circa 1710 farm store.

American Guinea Hogs: Homestead Hog and Chef’s
If you’d love to raise your own pork but don’t want a half-ton boar on your farm, then the Guinea Hog might be just what you’re looking for. Weighing in at around 300 pounds with a docile disposition, they’re a homesteader’s dream pig. They’ll provide you with pork and plenty of fat so that you can render your own healthy lard. Also known as a “yard pig,” they eat grass and are extremely hardy. In this session, you’ll learn about their needs for housing, fencing, and diet, as well as information on farrowing and raising piglets. We’ll also talk about what to do with their tasty pork, either for your family or when marketing it to other families and even chefs.

Speaker: Deborah Niemann-Boehle (see bio above)

Saving Rare Equine Breeds
In most cases, the Livestock Conservancy considers rare breeds that are food producers.  In this country, this is not true of horses.  Consequently, different justifications are necessary to promote the idea of conserving horses.  The purpose of this discussion is to develop ideas to answer the question of “Why save that breed of horse?”  Some advocate marketing strategies that emphasize the heritage of the breed.  Others advocate promoting the breed’s unique characteristics. What other strategies can we find?  Also: How important are “strains” of horses to preserving a breed?  HOW to save these breeds? What breeding strategies would work best?  Do we advocate outbreeding to preserve unique gene pools?  How do we prevent bottleneck inbreeding?  And finally, how do we get Registries and breeders to work together?

Speakers: Dr. Richard M. Blaney & Heidi Reinhardt
More about Richard & Heidi: Richard Blaney has a PhD in Biology and retired after teaching 42 years (Anatomy and Physiology).  He has been involved with preserving Galiceño Horses since 2006.  Heidi Reinhardt has a BS in Environmental Science and is a HS teacher (Chemistry).  She is a partner in the Galiceño Ranch in Florida.

LUNCH (11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.)

PLENARY (1:00 p.m. – 2:00pm)

Plenary: Year in Review
The Livestock Conservancy staff tell stories of breeds whose outcome would have been quite different without the Livestock Conservancy, with a focus on eastern breeds.  2016 accomplishments are also addressed. 
Speakers: Alison Martin, Jeannette Beranger

BREAKOUT SESSIONS (2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.)

Not Every Pig is a Breeder and Why
Education is the root of a successful breeding program
Based on their experiences with Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs and Large Black hogs, Felicia and Kimberly will explain why not all pigs within a herd should be bred and the benefits and uses of the ones that aren’t. Topics include: registering only the best of the litter based on best conformation and best temperament, the practice of giving merit to a lower inbreeding coefficient while safe guarding the individual bloodlines within a limited genetic pool, possible illnesses and birth defects associated with indiscriminate breeding practices, why, even though a piglet may not have the qualities desired for breeding purposes, the quality of the pork will prevail, and how offering pork will entice more participation in the preservation of heritage breed hogs.

Speakers: Felicia Krock & Kimberly Ruessler
More about Felicia: Felicia has raised livestock all her life. She started specializing in Large Black hogs 7 years ago. Felicia owns and operates Triangle K Ranch in Kenton, Ohio with her husband. She has been the Secretary/Registrar of the Large Black Hog Association since 2011.

Seed Savers Integrated Management System
Learn how Seed Savers manages it gardens, livestock, farm fields and natural areas in an integrated system.  Join us to learn how heritage livestock are an important aspect of any farm or garden ecosystem, and the myriad strategies to accommodate both animal and land sustainability.

Speaker: Jim Edrington
More about Jim: Jim is the facilities manager at Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. His responsibilities at Heritage Farm include facilities management, livestock care and management of the 890 acre grounds. Jim and his wife live at Badger Ridge Shetlands, where they raise Shetland Sheep and a variety of heritage poultry.

Eggs-traordinary Eggs
The Science, Secrets, & Politics of Eggs
Eggs are among the most nutritious, easily digestible and absorbed foods available on the planet. Eggs have been a staple food for humans since time began. Eggs are so adaptable that they can be used for a variety of dishes. They create elegant soufflés, hold meat loaf together. Learn how to select eggs for cooking and for hatching. Understand why some countries have laws to not wash or refrigerate eggs; and why the USA requires it. Did you know the USDA and FDA have no definition for "Fresh Eggs".  Gain insights into the secrets and politics behind eggs in this egg-solicit, eggs-citing workshop.

Speaker: Patricia Foreman
More about Pat: Pat is a sustainable agricultural author, a local foods advocate and popular speaker. She graduated from Purdue University with degrees in Pharmacy and Animal Science. She earned a Masters of Public Affairs (MPA) from Indiana University’s Graduate School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Pat has kept poultry for over 25 years, and has experience ranging from backyard homestead flocks to owning and operating a small-scale farm with free range, organic layers, broilers and turkeys. The commercial operation included keeping breeder flocks, incubating eggs, pasturing poultry and finished processing.

BREAKOUT SESSIONS (3:45 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.)

Import Roundtable
Many breeders have dreamed of diversifying the genetics of their flocks or herds by bringing in genetics from other countries. Join our panel of experts to explore the process on how to make an importation while keeping in mind how to maximize its impact on the breed and how to keep from diluting important genetics already found here in the U.S. through “popular sire syndrome” often associated with an import.
Speakers: Julie Gauthier, Tom Beeston, Brian Larson, Dr. Phil Purdy, Elwood Quinn

More about the speakers: Chickcharney Farm is Julie Gauthier’s homestead in the North Carolina piedmont. Her small farm is a retreat after her day job as a USDA veterinary epidemiologist. Tom is an English dairy farmer who took the reins at RBST around three years ago working to secure the future of rare and native breeds of farm livestock in the UK. Brian Larson has been a champion of the Lincoln Longwool breed for 30 years and is considered a Master Breeder among his peers. His strict selection for standard while keeping his eye on diversity has created one of the finest flocks in the country. To improve diversity for the breed in the U.S., he was one of the last people to import genetics from England and has carefully managed the bloodlines within his flocks.

The SVF Story
SVF Foundation is a nonprofit which preserves germplasm, (semen and embryos) from rare and endangered breeds of food and fiber livestock. In collaboration with Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, SVF collects genetic samples and uses cryopreservation to ensure these genetics are available for future generations. SVF is currently in year 14 of a 20 year collection phase, and has partnered with the Smithsonian Institute to ensure samples are curated appropriately long term. Sarah will discuss the history and goals of this program as well as highlight specific breeds that have contributed to the genetic reposito1y.

Speaker: Sarah Bowley
More about Sarah: As Program Director of SVF Foundation, Sarah oversees the genetic preservation program - animal husbandry, sample collection and veterinary care - in addition to PR and Educational programs. She received a B.S. in Pre-Veterinary Science from URI, and was a veterinary technician and owner of a livestock and exotic-pet care business.

Practical Website and Facebook Marketing for the Busy Farmer
This presentation focuses on how a busy farmer can increase their visibility through their website and Facebook pages without having to hire a professional to do it for them or spend hours per day to keep it up to date. It would give practical recommendations for websites such as the free versions of Wix and Wordpress as well as content with which customers can identify and connect. The second half would focus on how to use Facebook to the farm’s advantage. A quick run through of basic information section before sharing ideas as to what posts might garner the most attention and "likes" . Both sections will stress that by spending about 20 minutes a day of FB posting new information or responding to messages and updating your website regularly will greatly increase customer awareness about the farm.

Speaker: Allena Tillman-Brown
More about Allena: Since joining Firefly Farms in 2015, Allena Tillman-Brown brought her considerable PR/Marketing/event planning experience to completely revamp her family farm’s website, social media, photo library, and printed publications. Her focus is conveying the farm’s purpose and goals in a friendly engaging way that makes the customer feel like family.

MEMBERS MEETING (5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.)