I believe that an important part of living sustainably is making a commitment the preservation of animal breeds and biodiversity, particularly those near extinction. Here in Canada (in Alberta, to be specific), we have the opportunity to support the work of the Poultry Research Centre at the University of Alberta and their exciting program devoted to the preservation of heritage chicken breeds. If you live in Edmonton and cannot get involved in backyard chicken farming yourself, consider sponsoring a heritage bird and enjoying their wonderful eggs! Here is a bit more information about the Poultry Research Centre’s efforts, and how local residents can participate, from program director Agnes Kulinski:
The Poultry Research Centre (PRC) has maintained five heritage chicken breeds for the past 20 years. Due to recent budget cuts, our Board of Directors is contemplating the elimination of our heritage chicken lines. The cost of maintaining these heritage chickens is substantial, and the birds are currently of limited financial benefit to the Centre. In Canada, there are still some purebred flocks that carry the base genetics of today’s commercial poultry. However, there is a growing concern that these flocks are at risk, and there is no plan or sustainable model to ensure their viability.
The PRC recognizes that heritage chickens present a unique market opportunity capitalizing on the heritage/genetic preservation attributes at the PRC. The PRC would like to introduce the “adopt a heritage chicken program,” where the program supporter will pay a fee for us to raise the chickens and we will provide eggs. We have 1500 heritage hens; however, some of our hens produce less than 200 eggs per year each. The goal is to raise enough money through egg sales to cover the costs of maintaining the heritage breeds.
On March 28, 2013, the PRC has launched a limited time offer pilot program. The adoption fee is $75 for five months and the “owner” receives doz of eggs every two weeks. We have received overwhelming responses from the public, local and national media, wanting to support the genetic preservation. Over 200 people joined the program with approximately 500 on the waiting list for November when the program will expand. For more info, please visit our website: www.heritagechickens.ca
Read more about the program here. If you can, get involved! What a great way to enjoy fresh eggs and support biodiversity at the same time.