2019 Microgrants Awarded

Pittsboro, NC, USA  [February 25, 2020] – This month, The Livestock Conservancy awarded $19,342.65 to 11 farmers, ranchers, and shepherds raising endangered breeds of livestock. Applications were received for 168 projects in the second year of the grant program.

The Livestock Conservancy is the leading umbrella organization for rare and endangered livestock and poultry breeds in the United States. The Microgrants Program puts funds into the hands of their most important conservation partners – the people doing the hard work day after day to steward these genetic treasures for the security of tomorrow’s food and fiber system.

“Small financial awards can make a big difference for heritage breeders,” explains Livestock Conservancy Executive Director Dr. Alison Martin. “These strategic investments were selected by our panel of judges as the best examples of livestock conservation in action across the United States.”

More than 150 breeds such as Mulefoot swine and Baca Chica Colonial Spanish horses currently appear on The Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List across 11 livestock species. Their annual rankings reflect known populations both across the United States and around the world.

The Livestock Conservancy’s competitive Microgrants program was launched in 2019 with a generous gift from The Manton Foundation to support “Next Generation Farming: Northeastern Heritage Livestock.” Additional donors Drs. Stephen and Marie Minnich of Danville, Pennsylvania, and Drs. Pamela Hand and Will Hueston of Free Union, Virginia enabled the program to expand throughout the United States. A youth division for Microgrants was also launched this year to encourage the next generation of heritage breeders.

Congratulations to all of our Heritage Breed Microgrant recipients!

  • Liam Beheler holding a Nankin chicken
  • Kennedy sisters with their herd of Oxford and Jacob sheep

Youth Grant Recipients

Liam Beheler, Chicken Tractor and Coop For Rare Breed Poultry ($1,459.62)

Project Goal – I love rare breeds and I want to help raise and promote them to people. Right now I do not have the space to raise and breed my birds the way that I want to. My goals for my Nankin and Dominique project are that I want to work on breeding Dominiques that match the standard better. I want to buy at least one pair of birds from an Indiana breeder, Tami Newlin, who is doing a great job of breeding birds to meet the standard. I plan to build a small coop and covered run for the new line of Dominiques that would hold up to 8 breeding birds. I need to keep the new birds separated from my other group of birds so that I can keep track of breeding better. I want to build a chicken tractor for my Nankins. I started raising RC Nankins a few years ago and my sister and I do not have enough space for all of our SC and RC breeding birds. I need a place to keep my combs separated for breeding. I like using tractors because I can move them all around the yard or pasture and keep them safe from predators. Our goat has climbed on some of the other tractors so I would like to build a bigger and sturdier one. I want to raise more Nankins and Dominiques for showing, for giving away to 4-H youth and my friends, and for selling to people who contact us wanting chicks. I have been helping spin at History Days in our county and at a state park and maybe I can start training a Nankin to take for educating people. I started using a heat plate for my chicks this year and would like to buy another one so I can keep the bantam Nankins separate from the large Dominiques.

Kennedy Sisters, Keep the Sheep Campaign ($1,969.90)

Project Goal – In 2020 we will take our heritage sheep to the public in an effort to restart the Ewes ‘n’ Friends 4-H club (with a focus on heritage sheep). If we can save time in herd management, we will have more time for promoting our breeds and exploring the creative and enjoyable elements of having sheep. We wish to use the funding for two projects – Perimeter fence for our sheep and promotional signs: 1 for Jacobs and 1 for Oxfords.

Our main need is for permanent perimeter fencing. Currently we spend most of our sheep time moving them around in portable fences. Perimeter fence would save us 10+ hours a week, in addition to our regular daily herd management chores, moving the different pens of sheep: rams, ewes, lambs, breeding groups. Every 3-6 days we change pastures and must set portable fencing. The moving of the portable fencing during the pasture season is exhausting and the portable fence is showing signs of its age. We are hoping to get another season out of it. Additionally, permanent perimeter fencing would give more flexibility with breeding pen options.

  • Shelly Trumpey holds Mulefoot piglets
  • Travis Wright with Leicester Longwool sheep
  • Lynn Moody in a field with her Santa Cruz sheep
  • The Last Frontier Poultry Association in Alaska
  • Steve Edwards at Gwaltney Farm

National Grant Recipients

Joe and Shelly Trumpey, Sandy Acres Mulefoot Hog Improvement Project ($2,000)

Project Goals – 1) We want to establish permanent paddocks. We have a 1.25 acre corner of a pasture that we will convert to 3 permanent paddocks. The paddocks will be fenced using treated wooden posts, filled with welded wire Hog Panels that are lined with a single offset hotwire. This plot is fairly close to some neighbors and escaped pigs would not be a neighborly feature. I will alternate small plantings in the three paddocks with cover crop, Einkorn wheat and heritage flint corn. The pigs will be used to plow the paddocks and clean up the vegetation between plantings. Included in one of the paddocks is a port-a-hut for shade / shelter. I have a good 12v Gallager fence charger that I will use for the paddocks. 2) Add a new boar bloodline.

It is time to add a new boar to the herd. 3) Add a small grain bin. I have a used 4 ton grain bin located that is in good shape and want to add it to the farm to aid in pig feed cost efficiency I have a separate semi-permanent paddock and a pen in the barn for farrowing. With this added infrastructure and new bloodline the goal will be to raise 3-5 litters each year. I am confident that I can build a steady meat market with the local food hub and consignment markets. Food aware culture is steadily growing in South Eastern Michigan and we have plenty of room to grow. Shelly will be retiring in five years and will likely be setting up market sales at our local farmers market.

We live in a unique straw bale home that I designed and built with my family. Each year we open up the farm for the annual Solar Home tour and have a couple other public farm tours each year. The livestock is a cornerstone of the tour and we get a lot of inquiries based on the public outreach. In 2015, Mother Earth News Magazine named us Homesteaders of the Year and it has helped with awareness of our farm and the heritage breeds. Our goal is to focus on the sale of freezer pork, wool and sheep and pig breeding stock.

Travis Wright, Preserving Foundation Lines of Leicester Longwool Sheep ($2,000)

Project Goals – The goal of my proposed activities is to re-invigorate three foundation lines in the Leicester Longwool breed that are at risk of being lost. This will be accomplished through purchase and use of the limited quantities of frozen semen remaining from the original breed imports.

The Leicester is one of the most endangered breeds of sheep in the US, though its historical and genetic significance as the foundation animal for all Longwool breeds makes its preservation essential. Fortunately, in the past year, Leicesters were re-classified as threatened after having been critically endangered for many years. However, though breed numbers have increased slightly, the genetic diversity of our breed is in more jeopardy than ever. Because of the limited gene pool and small number of foundation breeders, this has resulted in most animals in the breeding population being related to each other in relatively recent generations. At the same time, many of the long-time shepherds in the breed have retired in the past several years. This has resulted in the disbursement of their stock, the loss of major bloodlines, and increased the rate of outcrossing/in-breeding. Finally, as most Leicester owners maintain a small number of animals and breed to the same ram for multiple years (purchasing a new one when necessary), there are few new shepherds focused on creating unique bloodlines within the breed.

To address the critical need to further refine distinctive bloodlines in the breed, I proposed to purchase 15 breeding doses of semen from each of three foundation sires behind my lines. In year one, I will breed 10 ewes to each sire– and retain the best replacement ewe lambs. In the second year, I will breed these replacement ewes to one of my line-bred rams. In year three, I will breed the five best ewes in each line back to the artificial semen of their grandfather. This 3 generation linebreeding program should allow me to fix the unique type and genetic contributions of these sires, consolidating their influence and reinvigorating these three important and genetically unique foundational lines.

Lynn Moody, Expansion of Sheep Facilities for Conservation and Promotion of Santa Cruz Sheep ($1,977.13)

Project Goals – The new barn has ample room for our large flock and already has ventilation, electricity, and doors, with an adjacent catch pen. Roofing and siding the barn will directly provide benefits to the sheep: shelter from winter rains, and shade. The barn will benefit our existing work with the sheep by providing a site for shearing and ranch visits. For the future, the barn will be an attractive venue for workshops and similar activities: already we are planning shearing in the barn, a fleece skirting “event,” and a natural dye workshop.

The pasture expansion areas (“new pasture”) support the shrubs California broom sage, Yerba Santa, and California buckwheat, with annual grasses and a few native pine trees. The sheep find the shrubs palatable and the shrubs re-sprout after browsing. The pines provide shade. Temporarily, electric fencing will delineate the new grazing area, with permanent fencing to follow. By introducing sheep into this area, through their waste products and by periodically mulching with compost and waste hay, we hope to improve all our pastures by sequestering carbon, thus increasing the soil’s water holding capacity and nutrient content. At the same time, judiciously rotating the sheep through the new area as well as the existing pastures will ease the grazing pressure on all areas.

Joshua Ream, Last Frontier Poultry Association Heritage Poultry Exhibition ($2,000)

Project Goals – My goal is to support annual exhibition opportunities for breeders of heritage poultry in Alaska. I intend to use awarded money to purchase show cages, secure American Poultry Association licensed judges, provide adequate ribbons and trophies for winning birds, advertise show opportunities, and provide print materials on breeds of conservation priority.

This award would benefit many people outside of my farm, potentially all residents of the State of Alaska. Only two state fairs are held annually in Alaska, the largest of which is the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK. Our club has built a great relationship with the Fair which hosted our first official show in 2019. People from around the state come to the fair for entertainment, education, and agricultural exhibits. This project will promote heritage poultry not only within our club’s membership, but also to all fair visitors. The benefit to club members is also substantial. Some people do not see the benefit of raising heritage or standard bred poultry in areas where these breeds are hard to acquire or where no official exhibition opportunities are available. Our 2019 show inspired many individuals to bring in standard bred stock from other parts of the country and to take pride in raising these breeds. With support from outside funding sources we can continue to grow our organization, extend our reach, and support those who are interested in breeds of conservation priority.

While we expect that an award of any amount would have incredible benefit to our club for years to come, we are specifically focused on providing at least one APA-endorsed and judged show in Alaska in 2020. This project’s funds would be specifically allocated to making that a reality. We would immediately identify a judge willing to travel to Alaska during next year’s Alaska State Fair. Importantly, no license nor APA judge currently resides in our state. We will also double the number of available show cages from 48 to 96

Steve Edwards, Gwaltney Frontier Farm Fencing ($1,072)

Project Goals – At our core Mill Swamp Indian Horses is an educational institution working with a number of rare breeds. We breed Colonial Spanish horse strains with a concentration on the Corolla Island pony. Our program has received the Keeper of the Flame Award for the preservation of these horses from the American Indian Horse Registry and the Carol Stone Ambassador Award from the Horse of the Americas Registry.  We teach riding and natural horsemanship and use the horses in PTSD programs for people dealing with traumatic events in their lives. Beyond the horse program we teach and demonstrate natural soil and water conservation through rotational and multi-species grazing with rare breed San Clemente goats, Hog Island sheep, Mammoth Jackstock donkeys, Bourbon Red turkeys, and Ossabaw pigs. Our goal is to improve our ability for rotational grazing by adding additional fencing that will further divide the grazing areas in order to make our systems more efficient. By doing so, it will reduce the need for supplemental hay and will enable our program to utilize the savings to go back into programming.

  • Stephanie Hayes holds Baca Chica horses
  • Van Ord family with a Milking Devon
  • James McClay holds a Traditional Morgan horse
  • Sister Telchilde Hinckley with Dutch Belted cows

Northeast Grant Recipients

Stephanie Hayes, Baca Chica Colonial Spanish Horse Preservation Project ($2,000)

Project Goals – The funds will assist in building and strengthening a very small and rare gene pool of the Baca Chica horses by covering a portion of the costs of collection, testing and frozen storage . An offspring of our breeding program, a 2 1/2 year old stallion has had a minimal amount of semen collected, tested, and which now is frozen in storage. There are only three breeding doses at this time. The funding would help accomplish multiple semen collection visits, testing and storage fees.

Many benefits come from having frozen semen collected and stored from this young stallion. He is the only breeding colt from the foundation stallion of the Baca herd. Without him and the use of his semen, we are at the end of the line genetically. He is a critical part of the long term preservation efforts. It is determined in our long range breeding plan that he can be bred back to the offspring already produced in five years, thereby keeping this particular genetic pool from extinction. With multiple semen collections I would be able to collaborate with other preservation minded breeders and increase the population of this rare strain not only in the US, but in Europe where there are others with an interest in his genetics. The goal is to have a minimum of 100 straws of semen stored in two locations for safety. This equals approximately twenty five AI breedings.

Andrew, Kathy, and Lily Van Ord, Milking Devon Artificial Insemination for Genetic Diversity ($2,000)

Project Goals – The small size of our farm makes it difficult and troublesome to maintain multiple live bulls. Additionally, the rising expense of trucking cattle long distances makes it very expensive to bring in new genetics very often. Together, these issues have led to more inbreeding than we would like. We have attempted to solve the issue with artificial insemination but it has presented it’s own issues. Shipping small quantities of semen is expensive and inefficient. Finding local storage for the semen has proven difficult and any extra straws end up lost. Our plan is to utilize the grant funding to purchase a semen tank, liquid nitrogen, and ten to twenty straws of semen from at least three different quality American Milking Devon bulls. Initially, we would use these resources to avoid incestuous matings within our herd while still being able to retain live bulls from the sire line with which we are working. Additionally, we plan to strategically retain progeny from these artificial insemination matings to develop a line breeding program that can be conducted in moderation and without inbreeding too close. We feel our project will positively impact others by producing quality breeding stock with lower inbreeding. In addition, it is our hope that the program could show the importance of a long term breeding plan and be seen as a positive example of how artificial breeding can be utilized, along with live cover matings, to develop a more moderate line breeding program.

James McClay, Traditional Morgan Horse Breeding Program ($2,000)

Project Goals – Funding will allow the breeding stock on site to be utilized more efficiently with dedicated paddocks and run-outs from stall areas. This will expedite services whether resident pasture breeding or shipping of fresh cooled semen. Presently, stock must be moved between stalls and paddocks, with varied construction standards. Funding will allow not only improvements in existing fencing but will allow expanding of the paddocks with an increased strength construction standard. The resident stallion, an integral part of the herd here, is available for outside mare services through a robust advertising program. Upon completion of the project by 15 April 2020, outside mares may visit the facility for pasture breeding and the breeding operation will continue in a safe and secure environment.

Sister Telchilde Hinckley O.S.B., Ph.D., Sustaining Dutch Belted Dairy breed in New England ($800)

Project Goals – Since 1991 we at the Abbey of Regina Laudis have been devoted to the preservation and conservation of heritage breeds of cattle, particularly the Dutch Belted and now the Milking Shorthorn. We began raising Dutch Belts when we received our first pair of oxen. As we moved toward a more sustainable grass based system, we realized that the Dutch Belts’ qualities were just right for our small-scale, hand milking operation.

Over the years Dutch Belted cattle from the Abbey herd (or their descendants) have gone to a number of farms in CT, NH, MA, VT, and TN. The goal of this project is to provide continuity and genetic diversity to the Dutch Belt breed in New England and at our farm through the purchase of Bestyet semen. There are classic sires as well as new young sires now available from Bestyet Farms and purchase of semen would offer the possibility of maximizing genetic material available.

A huge thank you to all from the grant review committee. We had a very large number of terrific applications to review but could not award grants without their help!