Rare Breeds Canada is a federally registered charitable organization formed in 1987. We are working to conserve, monitor and promote heritage and rare breeds of Canadian farm animals.
Conservation takes many forms: we work to increase populations, encourage registration of pure stock, assist farmers to find breeding stock, educate the public, maintain a bank of rare semen and create networks so farmers can find and exchange stock and find markets for their produce.
Markets are developing for heritage meats – in many cases demand outstrips supply. Thanks to years of dedicated work by Livestock Conservation organizations around the world, there is a glimmer of hope for heritage breeds. As long as we will eat them, farmers will keep them.
Many breeds that played a vital part in feeding Canadians in the past are still in danger of extinction. Our annual Conservation List takes the pulse of these fragile populations. Rare Breeds Canada also collects data in targeted census counts to understand population distribution.
Food security is an important issue in our conservation effort. The genetics of the older rustic breeds have qualities that are in demand now and may be invaluable in the future. Today’s industrial farming methods of intensification and specialization have put our food supply at risk by creating a dangerous dependency on a narrow genetic base and highly mechanized management.
Heritage breeds are thrifty, easy keepers – are disease resistant, birth easily, and have superior mothering abilities. Chefs and cheese makers all over the world are excited about the superior taste of heritage meat.
Heritage breeds are ideally suited to organic and sustainable agriculture systems such as rotational grazing and natural, outdoor livestock housing. They complement smallholdings and can be equally successful commercially in the developing niche markets for conscientious consumers.