Heritage breeds have not been genetically engineered or modified. Most livestock raised for consumption in the U. S. comes from a few breeds that have been bred and genetically selected to produce more product, whether that be meat, eggs, or milk.
Heritage breeds have distinct characteristics that make them well-suited to a particular environment. All environments are not equal and some livestock breeds are better suited to one area of the U. S. or another.
Heritage breeds reproduce naturally. Most turkey consumed in the United States is of the broad-breasted white variety. This bird has been bred and genetically engineered for a large white breast. As a result, the broad-breasted white cannot reproduce naturally. Reproduction must take place through artificial insemination.
Heritage breeds maintain genetic diversity. When we rely on a relatively small number of breeds for our food, we may be setting ourselves up for future catastrophe from a superbug or other diseases. Genetic diversity ensures that all of our genetic eggs or code are not in the same basket.
It’s about nature and animal welfare. Most of the animal products consumed in the U. S. originate on the large industrial farm. When we began ranching 15 years ago, we wanted to do something different. We wanted to provide a better product in a more natural and humane way. We love our animals–all of our animals. We believe that our animals deserve to live as naturally as possible. We believe that happy, healthy animals translate to healthier products for our consumers. Most heritage breeds are raised on sustainable farms and ranches that engage in natural or organic farming practices; so they were a natural choice for us. And, as an added bonus, heritage breed meats usually have better flavor and texture–definitely another trait we were looking for.
It’s about conservancy. Just as many wild species are endangered or extinct, domestic species are also dwindling. There are fewer breeds of cattle, swine, sheep, and poultry than there were five years ago. Every time an animal becomes extinct, their genetic code is lost forever. We cannot get it back. The only way to save endangered domestic animals is to raise awareness and to consume them. Think about it: the higher the demand, the higher the production.