International Heritage Breeds Week

Observed annually during the third week of May, International Heritage Breeds Week is an observance that attempts to raise awareness about domesticated livestock breeds that are going extinct right under the world’s noses. It has been estimated that one domesticated livestock breed goes extinct every month.

How can that be? This is because modern farming practices rely on a smaller pool of domesticated animals, which has led to a lack of diversity. Several domesticated livestock breeds are at risk of going extinct, including Texas Longhorn Cattle, the Florida Cracker, Dutch Belted Cattle, and the Cornish Chicken.

Of course, all of these breeds and the many others that are in danger of extinction can be helped by people taking the time to observe this week.

The History of International Heritage Breeds Week

The first Heritage Breeds Week was created and observed in 2015. It was celebrated across North America to raise awareness of endangered heritage livestock and poultry breeds. This holiday quickly spread through the networks of heritage breed farmers and the general public.

Although this holiday was originally supposed to be a one-off observance, it was so successful that it was decided it should be an annual event. A few years later, the organizations involved in this observance week began to use the occasion to seek the help of the general public in protecting vulnerable and endangered domesticated livestock animals.

A List of Some Other Endangered or Threatened Domesticated Livestock Species

We’ve decided that one way we can help continue the raising of threatened and/or endangered domesticated livestock animals is by listing some of the species that fall into these categories. So let’s take a quick look at just a small sample of the domesticated livestock species that are in trouble if all of us don’t take action to prevent their eventual extinctions.

  • Hog Island Sheep
  • Santa Cruz Sheep
  • White Holland Turkey
  • Black Turkey
  • Silver Marten Rabbits
  • Guinea Hogs
  • Mulefoot Hogs
  • San Clemente Island Goats
  • Jackstock Donkeys
  • Cotton Patch Geese
  • Cayuga Ducks

Observing International Heritage Breeds Week

One of the main things that people can do is to support farmers and local markets that supply rare domesticated animal breeds. Of course, it’s important for people to realize that they should only frequent reputable purveyors of rare domesticated breeds.

After all, the point of this week is to help domesticated livestock species continue to be raised, not to eat them to extinction. People are encouraged to spread the word about this holiday by using the hashtag #InternationalHeritageBreedsWeek as well. If we all come together, we can help protect the domesticated species that have made human civilization what it is and what it will be.

When is it?
This year (2024)
May 19 Sunday
Next year (2025)
May 18 Sunday
Last year (2023)
May 21 Sunday