American Livestock Breeds Conservancy

Definition of Heritage Chicken

Chickens have been a part of the American diet since the arrival of the Spanish explorers. Since that time, different breeds have been developed to provide meat, eggs, and pleasure.

The American Poultry Association began defining breeds in 1873 and publishing the definitions in the Standard of Perfection. These Standard breeds were well adapted to outdoor production in various climatic regions. They were hearty, long-lived, and reproductively vital birds that provided an important source of protein to the growing population of the country until the mid-20th century. With the industrialization of chickens many breeds were sidelined in preference for a few rapidly growing hybrids. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy now lists over three-dozen breeds of chickens in danger of extinction. Extinction of a breed would mean the irrevocable loss of the genetic resources and options it embodies.

Therefore, to draw attention to these endangered breeds, to support their long-term conservation, to support efforts to recover these breeds to historic levels of productivity, and to re-introduce these culinary and cultural treasures to the marketplace, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is defining Heritage Chicken.


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