Pittsboro, North Carolina – The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) is pleased to announce a new promotional partnership with Tractor Supply Co. (TSC) to raise awareness of endangered and heritage poultry breeds.
Beginning this month, more than a thousand Tractor Supply stores across the country are participating in the annual Chick Days program through May 9. This year, the program includes a number of heritage breeds of poultry, many of which are considered endangered by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
“This partnership will bring awareness to a critical issue facing the American agricultural system – dwindling diversity and the subsequent loss of many breeds of livestock and poultry,” says American Livestock Breeds Conservancy Executive Director Charles Bassett. “For ALBC, this is an opportunity to educate Tractor Supply’s current and future customers by providing them with the support and information necessary to raise endangered poultry breeds.”
As part of the partnership, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy has provided research, information and technical expertise, helping Tractor Supply to share the message of heritage breed conservation with their customers.
“Heritage breeds are the original backyard chicken,” says Jeannette Beranger, research and technical program manager for ALBC. “It makes sense for hobby-farmers, ranchers, and even suburban and rural homeowners to take interest in these breeds. These are the breeds of our grandparents and great-grandparents – and they are disappearing.”
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 21 percent of livestock breeds worldwide continue to be at risk of extinction. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is the only organization in the United States working to stop the extinction of these breeds – ensuring the future of our agricultural food system.
“We are proud to be associated with ALBC,” says John Wendler, senior vice president of marketing for Tractor Supply Co. “The popularity of backyard flocks in America has spurred demand for additional information and support. As the leading farm and ranch store, our relationship puts TSC in the unique position to help those interested in raising poultry to get started successfully while raising awareness of the diversity of breeds out there, many of which are in need of conservation.”
In 2011, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy listed more than 180 breeds of livestock and poultry on its Conservation Priority List, a list that designates population levels for endangered domesticated breeds. Twenty-nine poultry breeds were listed as critically endangered, making the TSC partnership an even more important step in the promotion and conservation of heritage breeds.
For more information about endangered poultry breeds, visit the ALBC’s website.
For more information about TSC’s Chick Days program, visit the website of Tractor Supply Co.
The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is a nonprofit membership organization working to protect more than 180 breeds of livestock and poultry from extinction. Included are donkeys, cattle, goats, horses, sheep, pigs, rabbits, chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys. Founded in 1977, ALBC is the pioneer organization in the United States working to conserve historic breeds and genetic diversity in livestock. ALBC’s mission is to ensure the future of agriculture through genetic conservation and the promotion of endangered breeds of livestock and poultry.
Tractor Supply Co. is the leading retail farm and ranch store brand in America. Founded in 1938, Tractor Supply Co. operates more than 1,000 stores in 44 states supplying daily farm and ranch maintenance supplies to a targeted customer base. The company’s stores are focused on supplying the lifestyle needs of recreational farmers and ranchers. The company also serves the maintenance needs of those who enjoy the rural lifestyle, as well as tradesmen and small businesses.
Why are domestic breeds of livestock and poultry in danger of extinction?
Modern agriculture and food production favors the use of a few highly specialized breeds selected for maximum output in intensively controlled environments. Most traditional breeds do not thrive in these conditions, so they have lost popularity and are faced with extinction.
Why is genetic diversity important?
Like all ecological systems, agriculture depends on genetic diversity to adapt to an ever-changing environment. Genetic diversity in domestic animals is revealed in distinct breeds, each with different characteristics and uses.
Traditional, historic breeds retain essential attributes for survival and self-sufficiency – fertility, foraging ability, longevity, maternal instincts, ability to mate naturally, and resistance to disease and parasites. As agriculture changes, we need to be able to draw on this genetic diversity for a broad range of uses and future opportunities. Once lost, genetic diversity is gone forever.