The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) announced its definition of the term "heritage" for chickens. ALBC is a non-profit organization working to ensure the survival of rare breeds of livestock and poultry.
Heritage chickens, as defined by ALBC’s newly-released definition, are standard breeds of chickens as defined by the American Poultry Association that are naturally mating, long-lived, and slow growing. For more on the definition of heritage chicken is available on their Web site.
Standard breeds of chickens like Plymouth Barred Rocks meet the "Heritage Chicken" definition established by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
"Defining 'heritage' for chickens will help assure the term is not incorrectly used by uninformed breeders or co-opted by unscrupulous marketers trying to sell something as historic that's not," says Marjorie Bender, technical program director for ALBC. Producers raising standard breeds of poultry use the term heritage to help market the eggs and meat from their birds. Protecting this market niche is an important step in the preservation of these breeds. "Most so-called heritage chickens, turkeys and other farm animals are in danger of extinction. If we can give these animals a job again, we’re more likely to be able to save their valuable genes. These genes ensure their bodies are healthy, and may include resistance to disease and parasites," Bender said.
The announcement of ALBC's heritage chicken definition was made at Good Shepherd Turkey Ranch in Lindsborg, Kan. The farm is operated by Frank Reese who raises two heritage breeds of chickens, Plymouth Barred Rocks and New Hampshires. Reese’s operation was featured in a November 2007 WATT PoultryUSA article.