WHAT ARE HERITAGE SHEEP?
Traditional livestock breeds raised by earlier generations--- before industrial agriculture became the norm--- "heritage" breeds were selected and bred over time, developing traits adapted to local environmental conditions and cultural needs.
Perhaps considered 'old-fashioned,' historic breeds retain basic foraging ability, longevity, fertility & maternal instincts, ability to mate naturally, and resistance to local diseases and parasites--- really important qualities.
Cattle, chickens & turkeys & ducks, donkeys, goats, sheep and horses can have better natural disease resistance, adapted to their environments, and thrive in pasture-based settings without importing grain, corn, or using antibiotics... you get the idea.
These livestock breeds are in danger of extinction with modern economies of scale wanting quick-growning animals, sheep without wool and other qualities industrial economy demands. Many breeds now used in large scale agriculture have been specifically selected for intensive production including rapid growth, feed efficiency, continuous milk or egg production, and other targeted production characteristics.
The traditional Churro sheep were initially brought across the Atlantic by the early Spanish Conquistadores. Sheep quickly became a major economic asset, unmatched as a mobile food, fiber, and commerce source. Their clean, lustrous wool is still used for renowned Navajo and Rio Grande textiles. Easy to wash, card, and spin, their wool was important in a land with little water. Navajo-Churro fleece is composed of an inner coat of fine wool fibers providing good insulation and a long protective outer coat which sheds the snow and rain. Navajo-Churro sheep naturally have a range of natural colors including black, browns, grays, white, patterns and blends. www.Navajo-ChurroSheep.com for more information including breed standards, a list of breeders with registered Navajo-Churro sheep and more photos. Photos of our sheep are at www.LandLamb.com.
The Livestock Conservancy--- the umbrella organization for the United States--- defines "heritage' as a term in the food and agricultural marketplaces consumers can rely upon. Most heritage breeds are also endangered breeds, raised by few farms nationally. By defining 'Heritage' this encourages education and reintroduction of these breeds to the marketplace as the cultural and culinary treasures that they are. Defining Heritage helps create a market niche while helping to conserve traditional breeds, their genetics, and their agricultural systems. Developing a marketplace for endangered breeds is a critical piece of conserving them for the future and central to the Conservancy’s mission.
Is our national organization celebrating this "heritage" foods. Their philosophy encourages: "A better, cleaner and fairer world begins with what we put on our plates – and our daily choices determine the future of the environment, economy and society. If you care about local farmers, ranchers, fishers; animal welfare; the joy of a shared meal; preserving food culture; protecting the environment or avoiding GMOs, we have a place for you at our table.
Slow Food USA is part of the global Slow Food network of over 100,000 members in more than 150 countries. Through a vast volunteer network of local chapters, youth and food communities, we link the pleasures of the table with a commitment to protect the community, culture, knowledge and environment that make this pleasure possible.
Our mission as an international grassroots membership organization is good, clean and fair food for all."