New Book

An Introduction to Heritage Breeds

Saving and Raising Rare-Breed Livestock and Poultry

By D. Phillip Sponenberg, Jeannette Beranger and Alison Martin
Paperback / softback, 240 pages
Published by Storey Publishing


Preview Book


Heritage breeds matter, and they are often a better choice than conventional breeds for small farms and backyards. This eloquent, inviting, visual guide explains why conserving heritage breeds is important and shows you how you can raise these breeds yourself, helping to preserve them and benefiting from them at the same time. Written by three experts from the Livestock Conservancy, this book includes chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, rabbits, pigs, sheep, goats, cattle, donkeys, and horses, detailing each breed's specific needs and characteristics so that you can select the one that's right for you. Whichever breed you choose, you'll find thorough, comprehensive information on how to raise it successfully.


An Introduction to Heritage Breeds is a valuable introduction to an important segment of biodiversity. It should be kept in mind that while natural biodiversity remains the main subject of scientific studies and conservation efforts, that generated by humans within domestic species has its own, unique value.

— Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University


"Encyclopedic knowledge, unparalleled experience, and true wisdom underpin this guide. Only the Livestock Conservancy could dare write such a book, and succeed so brilliantly."

— Cary Fowler Ph.D., Special Advisor and former Executive Director, Global Crop Diversity Trust


In an uncertain future, heritage breeds genetic resources may prove essential.  And conserving this diversity is work best taken up by many inspired farmers.  As Aldo Leopold wrote, “To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution to intelligent tinkering.”   Sponenberg has laid out a straightforward introduction to the the whys and hows of breed conservation, outlining all the various strategies and techniques to help us best preserve these invaluable “cogs and wheels.” He has also included insights to help prospective breeders determine which breed may be right for them. His clear writing, diagrams and breed profiles makes the work of breed conservation husbandry accessible to a new generation of farmers and stockmen. 

— Craig Haney, Livestock Farm Director Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

About the Authors

D. Phillip Sponenberg, DVM, Jeannette Beranger, and Alison Martin

are all associated with The Livestock Conservancy, a nonprofit organization focused on preserving and promoting rare breeds of livestock. Founded in 1977 through the efforts of livestock breed enthusiasts concerned about the disappearance of many of the US's heritage livestock breeds, the Livestock Conservancy was the pioneer livestock preservation organization in the United States and remains a leading organization in that field. It has initiated programs that have saved multiple breeds from extinction, and it works closely with similar organizations in other countries, including Rare Breeds Canada.

Dr. Phil Sponenberg Jeannette Beranger Dr. Alison Martin