Thank you for your interest in conserving rare breeds of livestock and poultry. Many times the The Livestock Conservancy is contacted by people who are interested in having a role in endangered livestock conservation but don’t know where to start. Below is a list of resources to help you get on the right track.

Online Store

Whether you want to wear your passion with pride or stock up on breed literature, our online stores are packed with books, apparel, and other products geared for heritage livestock enthusiasts. You’ll find a variety of branded apparel, mugs, caps and other gift items at our Cafe Press store. For a wide selection of book titles, event registration, and membership packages, head over to The Livestock Conservancy store.

Conservation Genetics

The Livestock Conservancy serves as a resource for individuals and organizations who want to conserve rare breeds. The Livestock Conservancy researches and monitors the status of hundreds of breeds to determine conservation priorities, and the action steps needed, to save rare breeds. We work with longtime breeders, new farmers, conservation-minded individuals and many partners to save endangered breeds. Together, we educate breeders, the public and policy makers about the importance of these genetics through our outreach, publications and research.

Microgrants Program

Learn about the different programs The Livestock Conservancy offers for support along with the process and instructions for applying. Our microgrants cover three categories:

  • National Microgrants, for residents and organizations in the U.S. working with livestock and poultry breeds listed on our Conservation Priority List.
  • Youth Microgrants, for funding U.S.-based youth (ages 8-18) who are actively working with breeds listed on our Conservation Priority List.
  • Premier 1 Microgrants, providing fencing products supplied through Premier 1 Supplies for residents and organizations in the U,S, working with breeds listed on our Conservation Priority List.
  • Emergency Response Fund/Emergency Response Feed Grant: Through the generous contributions of grantors and private individuals, we have secured funding for emergency response assistance, on a case by case basis, to rare breed stewards and organizations.

Getting Started with Heritage Breeds

At The Livestock Conservancy, we receive numerous inquiries from passionate individuals across the country who are interested in participating in endangered livestock preservation but don’t know where to start. One of our central missions is to ease the transition by providing guidance across a variety of recommended steps and considerations. The Getting Started with Heritage Breeds page covers the following topics:

  • Consider your long range plan
  • Consider the context
  • Inventory your resources
  • Consider your market
  • Decide on a species to raise

Common Animal Terms

If you are new to the world of livestock preservation, you might encounter new language that can make it difficult to follow along or comprehend conservation news and information. We set up the Common Animal Terms page as an online glossary of common words and phrases that are applicable and sometimes frequent to this noble cause. On this page you will find each definitions for the main breeds we focus on – Ass, Cattle, Goat, Horses, Rabbits, Sheep, Swine, Chickens, Ducks, Geese, and Turkeys – as well as a subdirectory of words and their definitions under each.

Heritage Breed Tasting Protocols

In a joint project with Slow Foods USA and Chefs Collaborative, we put together a series of documents to facilitate the hosting of breed tasting events for poultry and other meat. These documents are downloadable PDFs and include an outline for hosts to guide preparation, serving, and submission instructions, as well as forms for both consumer and chef evaluations.

Card Grading Protocols

The objective of card grading is to evaluate individual animals relative to a breed standard and assess their potential as breeding stock. Card grading, with its evaluation of all individuals within a group of animals, strengthens breeders’ understanding of the characteristics and attributes of their breed and, in turn, encourages the protection of genetic diversity within the breed. The Card Grading Protocolspage provides an overview of procedures for hosting a card grading event as well as a breakdown of each card designation and their meanings.

Financial Resources

Raising heritage breeds does come at a cost, and part of what we do at The Livestock Conservancy is source funding opportunities for participating farmers. In addition to our own microgrants and emergency response fund, the Financial Resources page offers links to grants and other funding for farmers, information on funding sources for breed associations and nonprofits, as well as FoodTank’s list of 30 resources for organizations in the food industry (including some international resources).

Heritage Turkeys

Many different varieties of heritage turkeys have been developed to fit different purposes. Turkeys were selected for productivity and for specific color patterns to show off the bird’s beauty. Our Heritage Turkey page provides a deep dive into the species, providing historical context and what defines a heritage breed. Learn the eight varieties that are included on the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection list, the specific criteria for meeting a heritage classification, and view a timeline of the domesticated turkey.

Heritage Chickens

Chickens have been a part of the American diet since the arrival of the Spanish explorers. Since that time, different breeds have been developed to provide meat, eggs, and pleasure. Learn about the history of heritage breads in America as well as what defines a “heritage” designation. Did you know that all heritage breed chickens must adhere to these criteria: APA Standard Breed; natural mating; long, productive outdoor lifespans; and slow growth rate? Heritage chickens are an important part of America’s livestock culture and dozens of breeds now face extinction since their industrialization.

Heritage Cattle

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. On our Heritage Cattle page, discover what defines heritage breeds and the definition of heritage cattle products, a project that we have undertaken in response to the threat of extinction that several breeds face in the wake of homonogized cultures and abandoned agricultural traditions.

Heritage Swine

Like cattle, Swine indigenous to Europe were brought with immigrants during the colonization of America, and the many different types of swine they brought have provided pork, lard, pest control, and land improvement services for centuries. On our Heritage Swine page, discover what defines heritage breeds and the definition of heritage pork products, a project that we have undertaken in response to the threat of extinction that several breeds face in the wake of homonogized cultures and abandoned agricultural traditions.

Heritage Goats

Adaptable, curious, and sociable, goats were among the first animals to be domesticated. Goats’ hardiness makes them a part of subsistence agriculture almost everywhere, yet they are also found in highly developed production systems and as pampered companion animals. Goats are also amazingly versatile animals with production that includes milk, meat, and fiber, as well as other uses like packing and land management. On our Heritage Goats page, learn more about the history of heritage goats in America, facts about global breeding, guidance on breed selection, and breeds bred specifically for the valuable fiber produced from their coats.

Breeders Directory

Search The Livestock Conservancy’s online directory of heritage breeders and breeder product producers nationwide! This list is abbreviated, but for most listings shows their location, breed(s), and includes contact information as well as a website link. Note that some directory listings that have heritage breed products may not be from a breeder or owner of heritage breeds. Are you a breeder or products producer not on our list? Learn how you can submit your listing and get started today!


Support heritage breeders and product producers! The Heritage Breed Marketplace is your one stop for heritage breeds and products in the country. A full membership with The Livestock Conservancy is required to place a listing but browsing the marketplace is free to the public. Members can place free unlimited listings from breeds on the Conservation Priority List. Learn more about how to place a classified listing and how to become a member.

Market Resources for Farmers
Cornell Small Farms Classes