Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Getting Started with Rare Breeds

By Ryan Walker
Have you been thinking about joining ALBC's conservation efforts by getting some of your own rare breeds? Perhaps you already have animals but are considering adding a new breed or species to your farm or ranch. The idea seems simple enough. Take a look in the
Rare Breeds, Breeders and Products Directory, find someone with animals, call them up or email to arrange the purchase, then pick up or have your animals delivered, right? Although this is the general process that many people follow when choosing new animals, there are other important things to consider as well.

ALBC has defined five criteria to consider before purchasing new animals for both first-timers and experienced farmers alike. These criteria include: considering your long range plan, your farm context, your resources, your market, and deciding on an appropriate species/breed. When choosing an appropriate animal, it is important to take all of these items into consideration. Much thought should be given to climate, as this is something you cannot change unless you decide to move. Some breeds are adapted to certain climates and may not be able to thrive in others. Infrastructure also ties in to weather-related considerations. Weather extremes often prompt the need for facilities like barns, sheds, or available water supply which can be crucial for successfully raising animals.

Another factor that needs to be addressed is the financial feasibility of owning particular animals. Although your animals will need to eat, you still need to eat too, so make sure you have the resources available to take on a new line item in your budget. If animals are going to be bought and sold, comprehensive market research can be greatly beneficial in identifying if there will be a demand for them in your area. You can also identify customer demographics and develop an effective marketing plan to promote your products.

Additionally, make sure you have time to devote to raising your animals. We all have commitments in our lives, but when acquiring new stock, we also acquire the responsibility of caring for them. Each species and breed has certain requirements that may be different from what we are used to or have experience with. By doing your homework and thoughtfully evaluating which animals will work best for you, you can ensure that both you and your heritage breeds will live happy, healthy, and productive lives while simultaneously contributing to rare breed conservation.

Visit ALBC's Getting Started With Rare Breeds page for a complete overview of the five criteria mentioned in this article and for a species-by-species comparison of the animals ALBC works with. Click Here to visit the page now!

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