Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Preserving rare heritage breeds

Located on a 45-acre estate in Newport, Rhode Island, SVF is the only organization in the country dedicated to conserving rare heritage livestock breeds by freezing their semen and embryos.

About 45,000 semen and embryo samples from 20 breeds of rare cattle, sheep and goats are preserved there in liquid nitrogen. Each time the foundation freezes a batch of embryos from a new breed, it thaws a few and transplants them into surrogate animals.

While commercial livestock have been bred for consistency, heritage breeds have not been continuously "improved" by humans. They have been shaped more by natural selection and survival-of-the-fittest forces.  They are a valuable resource to the livestock industry.

Before SVF, the preservation of heritage livestock was through natural reproduction and organizations like the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

Read full New York Times article

Thanks to Kelly Cole for suggesting this blog entry.

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