Monday, March 5, 2012

ALBC and its fine work

I got my American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) newsletter in the mail today, an organization worth joining if you aren't already a member. You don't need to own a single chicken to sign up for their directory (a GOLD-MINE of information, printed once a year), and quarterly newsletters. I think a year's membership is 30 dollars, and it supports the fine people trying to keep the old breeds of horses, pigs, sheep, chickens, turkeys, swine, asses, rabbits, goats and more alive and well in a very factory farm world. Most people don't realize when they bite into their Thanksgiving Butterball they are eating one breed of mass-produced turkey, the Broad Breasted White. An animal so insipid and fat it has lost the desire to have sex, and the only way we can eat more butterballs is to employ sad low-wage earning people to "inseminate" via god knows what means, female turkeys to produce more eggs. This is why I try and raise a few Bourbon Reds every year, and also because it wasn't that long ago I first read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and enjoyed her Bourbon Red Turkey trials so much I wanted to honor the book and her family's work by raising them as well. I still listen to her on audiobook when I plant my garden.

So what conservation breeds do I own? Well, there are the Silver Fox meat rabbits, the Bourbon Red Flock (in progress), and the Fell Pony. None of these animals are commercially bred. They are rare enough to be on some level of their watch list. I'm proud to be breeding these turkeys and rabbits, and proud of my pony too. (Both of them, even scrappy Jasper, who is much more like me than Merlin's Zen nature).

Do any of you belong to the ABCLA? What animals on their list do you keep, own, breed, or are on your "wish list?"

highlander image from squidoo


Blogger Mama Forestdweller said...

I LOVE the ALBC! I am not a member yet, though I probably ought to be, as I have spent many an hour on their amazing website. I wrote about it on my blog the other day, too! We have speckled sussex and orpington hens, and are going to start raising bourbon red turkeys this year, too. Someday if I get my dream farm, I'll have lots more :)

March 5, 2012 at 9:05 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

We have two, 2wk old, black australorps.

March 5, 2012 at 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not a member of ALBC yet. I was raised with pure Rhode Island Reds, so I always know in my heart that's the kind of chicken I'm meant to have... none of this Red Star stuff, bring on the heritage!!


March 5, 2012 at 9:20 PM  
Blogger Fernleaf said...

Although I am not yet a member I keep Welsh Harlequin ducks and American Buff Geese. Both of which I want to breed and hope to increase their numbers locally!

March 5, 2012 at 9:20 PM  
Blogger Mindy said...

I am! We have large black hogs, Delaware chickens (among others) and rouen ducks. I also have a new heritage puppy: an American farm collie or English shepherd.

March 5, 2012 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger Casie Duberstein said...

I've got five breeds of chickens that are on the ALBC list. Working on getting Welsh Harlequin ducks and Pilgrim geese this year too. Used to raise American rabbits as well.

March 5, 2012 at 9:30 PM  
Blogger Meagan said...

We've had various types of chicken listed on the ALBC over the years. It feels good knowing you're doing your bit, and helping to save something that folks have raised for generations. I'm a felt maker, and have recently been using Navajo Churro wool from a local farm. It's super exciting to incorporate this aspect of conservation into my art. I don't raise them, but I believe in sustainability in art, too. I adore these beasts.

March 5, 2012 at 9:55 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I have not yet joined, though I do follow their site and pay attention to what's in what status. I'm thrilled to announce that, as a member of the Breeders of American Rabbits National Specialty Club, my breeding efforts have been part of the recovery of the American rabbit from "critical" to "threatened"! I do love my Blues :) I also raise Creme d'Argents, which are "recovering."

Apparently my Nigerian Dwarf goats are on the list as well, in "recovering. I have three does bred... one looks like she swallowed a boot - sideways. She's HUGE. I can hardly wait!

And gosh, in the chickens? I have quite a few of these - but! - I can't have roosters, so I have to buy the pullets from a hatchery. I have Delawares on order for April, and presently have Speckled Sussex, Silver Laced Wyandottes, Black Australorps, and Barred Plymouth Rocks. All of the ones I have are under "recovering."

March 5, 2012 at 10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NO I'm not a member. I've spent my money on heirloom seeds for the garden! As Scarlett said, "I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow."

March 5, 2012 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger Appalachian Feet said...

Thanks for reminding me this exists! I first heard about it at some classes run by Jim Adkins of the International Center for Poultry last year.

We have a small flock of 6 chickens. Not sure how they rate but they are 1 cuckoo maran, 2 brown leghorns, and 3 mutt Easter eggers.

March 5, 2012 at 11:22 PM  
Blogger Goat Song said...

I used to always be against the BB white turkeys, and firmly told myself I would always raise heritage breeds.... Until I started working at a nearby slaughter house. I saw who knows how many thousands of turkeys come through, and most of them were the heritage breeds. Those heritage breeds were SO incredibly hard to pluck!! The Bourbon Reds weren't that bad, so I might someday get a flock of my own, but I'll stick with the BB whites; even if it is "un-patriotic" of me. ;)

I do hope to join ALBC soon though! I'm always on their website, and I get their monthly newsletters. I'm working on raising Blue American rabbits, Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs, and I would eventually like to get some of the rarer cattle and maybe a rare breed equine. :)

March 5, 2012 at 11:43 PM  
Blogger Beth of the Rocks said...

I'd want to start with chickens - the Russian Orloff, the Sumatra and the Yokohama (I'd love to see how long I could get the tails). They're gorgeous breeds, and have personality!

Thanks for posting the info.


March 6, 2012 at 8:43 AM  
Blogger Alexandra said...

Not a member, but "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" is one of my favorite books. Hope to be raising some heritage breeds in the near future!

March 6, 2012 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

no hard feelings goatsong! and there is nothing more patriotic than growing your own food, so no apologies lady!

March 6, 2012 at 8:45 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I live near the headquarters of the ALBC but am not yet a member. You have encouraged me to do so with this post as a way to honor the several breeds of chickens and the goat I have whose breeds are on the list.

March 6, 2012 at 9:25 AM  
Blogger ~ Janis said...

Becasue of ALBC I am picking up my rare Appleyard ducks in a few weeks. I also raise a breed of cattle that will soon be a heritage breed since the traditional variety of the breed is so rare.

March 6, 2012 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Catcoco said...

Up here North of the Border, we own and breed the only true Canadian breed of chickens : Chanteclers - we have the white, partridge and buff varieties.
We also breed the Dominique chicken - the oldest North American breed of chicken there is.
They are all scarce breeds that would gain from more exposure as
all are hardy and well adapted to our harsh winters.

March 6, 2012 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger Becca said...

I just ordered my basic membership last night! I have Delaware and Wyandotte chickens and am aching for some Pineywoods cattle and Mulefoot pigs.

March 6, 2012 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

I should be a member. I keep three Olde English Southdown sheep. This spring, I am getting 15 Ancona ducklings.

March 6, 2012 at 3:44 PM  
Blogger Michael Smith said...

To give some idea of how awful turkey insemination is, Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs did an episode on it. If Dirty Jobs comes to visit you at work, then your job has to be nasty.


March 6, 2012 at 3:53 PM  
Blogger Nerissa said...

Tomorrow I'm purchasing my American Mammoth Donkey, Eliza. Who is listed as 'Threatened'. Since I am lucky and happen to live 45 minuted from likely the largest Mammoth herd on the west coast they don't feel so threatened to me :) but it is more her personality than anything else which has me diving in.

March 6, 2012 at 4:46 PM  
Blogger anton said...

I run an old style diverse farm and raise (save for my dairy goats) exclusively heritage breeds. We have, to my knowledge, the only herd of Randall Cattle in Ohio and many other rare breeds which we shear, eat, milk, collect eggs from etc. They're great! Much less trouble than the commercial breeds since they can calf/lamb on their own without me having to stand by 24/7. The other benefit is an aesthetic one--everyone who comes to the farm can't stop saying how beautiful the farm animals are, and they're right, they are beautiful. You can check them out at

March 6, 2012 at 7:05 PM  
Blogger anton said...

I run an old style diverse farm and raise (save for my dairy goats) exclusively heritage breeds. We have, to my knowledge, the only herd of Randall Cattle in Ohio and many other rare breeds which we shear, eat, milk, collect eggs from etc. They're great! Much less trouble than the commercial breeds since they can calf/lamb on their own without me having to stand by 24/7. The other benefit is an aesthetic one--everyone who comes to the farm can't stop saying how beautiful the farm animals are, and they're right, they are beautiful. You can check them out at

March 6, 2012 at 7:06 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

I dream of an all heritage and heirloom farm. No heritage breeds yet, but I'm sure I'll start with chickens and rabbits and work my way up. For now, I'll definitely join ALBC and continue my container garden (front walkway of my townhome, which might be a fire hazard) of heirlooms.

March 6, 2012 at 8:46 PM  
Blogger Taryn Kae Wilson said...

Lots of things on the wish list! But we'll need more space for that... :)

March 6, 2012 at 9:34 PM  
Blogger Thistledog said...

I'm a member, have been for quite a few years. No livestock yet, but planning on Suffolk draft horses, Devon cattle, maybe Tunis sheep, and most CERTAINLY Bourbon Red turkeys. Will try some heritage chickens, too.

I think heritage breeds are the way to go for small farms like mine. Plus, they have a story, which helps with the niche marketing. Ok, I could go on and on - taste, mothering ability, hardiness - there are lots of great traits for the asking in those heritage breeds. Love ALBC, great organization.

March 6, 2012 at 9:41 PM  
Blogger Lilac Hill said...

I am a member.
I breed and raise Buckeye chickens, Saxony ducks, American Buff geese, Katahdin sheep and Belted Galloway cows, Since finding breeding stock is sometimes difficult I refer to the directory when I travel for members near my destination and along my travel route.

March 7, 2012 at 7:10 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

I have to say I'll not raise any more heritage turkeys. I've raised BB Whites, BB Bronze, Royal Palms, Slate, and Buffs. Heck, I hatched the slate and buff eggs myself, and those birds were wild and flighty as can be. My BBWs and BBBs were all calm and friendly. Plus, they were easy to pluck and got WAY bigger than the heritage birds, which is a plus in my book. And it's not that they don't *want* to mate, but they're just physically incabable since their breasts are so large.

I think it's great there are people out there who continue to breed heritage breeds though.

March 7, 2012 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger beccaWA said...

Not a member. But am raising heritage chickens: Plymouth Barred Rocks (not rare but old), Gold-laced Wyandottes and Buckeyes, both of which are on the SPPA (Society for Preservation of Poultry Antiquities) critical list. Also a good organization.

March 8, 2012 at 9:08 PM  
Blogger Kristy said...

Not a member yet but I raise Mottled Java chickens. I also raise Scottish Blackface sheep and although they aren't rare they are a heritage breed.

March 9, 2012 at 1:45 PM  
Blogger Horseartist said...

I have been a member in the past and your post makes me ready to join again.

I have Spanish Mustang horses (or Spanish Barbs, or Colonial Spanish Horses) and have bred a few in the past. This is the horse that descended from what the Conquistadors brought to N. America, and became the cowpony, indian pony, etc.

My great uncle saw them being cross bred out of existence and founded the SMR in 1957, after spending a number of years in preservation efforts with a few other folks.

I love my small horses, with their Spanish fire and heart. And I've loved reading about your journey to Merlin. I hope that you and he build a bond of trust that yields many good hours (into years) of work and enjoyment. Well done.

March 21, 2012 at 9:35 AM  

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