Why rare breeds?

In part, the same things that appealed to us about raising ducks drew us to selecting rare heritage breeds. We were interested in a unique product and wanted to invest in a breed that wasn’t commonplace. As adorable as the classic white Pekin duck is, we were more interested in raising heritage breeds that are in need of conservation. The Cayuga duck was our first choice, and the more we read, the more we became interested in expanding our flock to include multiple rare breeds.

In an effort to learn more about our breeds, we joined the Livestock Conservancy, a nonprofit organization whose mission is, to ensure the future of agriculture through the genetic conservation and promotion of heritage breeds of livestock and poultry.

Unfortunately, modern, big agriculture has over time reduced the genetic diversity of fruits, vegetables, grains, and livestock breeds to focus only on those breeds and strains that produce the highest yields with minimal costs. When it comes to poultry, that often means thousands of birds in confined spaces bred to lay or put on weight to maximize profit, with little to no emphasis on animal well-being or the quality of the end product. Often times, natural traits such as self-sufficiency, foraging ability, and mothering instincts, have been bred out of mainstream breeds in order to accomplish greater production.

At Black Duck Farm, we take our stewardship and conservation of our land and animals seriously. We strive to raise happy, healthy birds that live in a natural environment and reflect the diversity of domestic duck breeds. We hope that as our farm continues to grow our beautiful and rare birds may encourage others to consider raising heritage breeds of any livestock. After all, genetic diversity is what makes raising animals, fruits, and vegetables so interesting and rewarding.

The Livestock Conservancy says it well:

The challenge we face as a nation and as an agricultural community is that heritage breeds are a reflection of genetic diversity. If we lose breeds, we lose genetic diversity. Many will ask, “So what, why does genetic diversity matter?” The simple answer is that our agriculture system is like a stock portfolio. If we invest all of our currency in a limited number of breeds, we are at risk of losing all of our investments. If we embrace diversifying the agricultural portfolio through rare breed conservation, our assets are diversified.

For more information about rare breeds of poultry and other animals, check out The Livestock Conservancy

Ducks in Grass

Ducks in Grass