Most breeds popular today would not survive on their own. The chickens are so bred to produce meat that their legs will break under their own weight if not butchered at precisely the right age. The hogs are walking bacon and ham makers whose pale skin would scorch if it was ever exposed to sunlight. The cows have very demanding nutritional needs and would not function on open pasture. The list goes on and on. We have created a livestock gene pool that needs our constant intervention and assistance in order to survive, then we’ve locked those animals away and treated them horrifically, all in the name of having convenient access to monstrous quantities of meat and milk. This model is immoral and unsustainable, bringing devastating environmental damage.
Enter the rare livestock breeds. They are the antithesis and they may someday be saving humanity. These animals have been bred by small farmers for hundreds of years. They are hardy animals and excellent mothers. We NEED these breeds. This genetic diversity is essential! If agriculture is to be sustainable, it needs livestock incorporated in the model. And they have so much more to offer than meat. Pigs make wonderful living plows and can clear land very effectively. Historically, lard was used as a soap base, as well as a general purpose lubricant. Chickens provide eggs. They also turn and spread compost beautifully. Sheep provide fiber, brush control, and manure for compost. Geese can weed the garden and provide eggs. Historically, they also provided feathers for quill pens, pillows, and mattresses. When we work with multi-purpose heritage animals in a sustainable, respectful manner, our farms can accomplish amazing things, bringing immense environmental improvement.