"Eat it to keep it!"
Although it may seem counter-intuitive to eat something rare, eating rare breed meat is actually a great way to support a breed.
When breeding livestock, there will always be animals that are not bred from. It may be that these animals have an undesired characteristic or it may simply be that they are surplus - although half calves born are male, one male can mate with many females so breeders do not need all that are born.
Rather than being kept for breeding, these are kept to provide meat. By buying and eating this meat, you can support breeders and allow them to keep our rare breeds alive.
Some rare and native breeds may not have the conformation to suit today's mass market but they make up for it in flavour, succulence and eating quality.
A number of our rare and native breeds are listed by SlowFood in their Ark of Taste.
Interested in buying some rare or native breed meat?
If you'd like to support rare and native breeds by eating their meat, there's a number of ways you can get some.
- Ask your local butcher if they have any rare of native breed meat. For a list of breeds, visit our Watchlist.
- Search BigBarn for your nearest rare and native breed producer.
- When you meet local breeders, in Support Groups, or at Shows, ask if they sell meat boxes.
Things to keep in mind:
Does the meat come from an animal with 2 pedigree registered parents, or was it birth notified?
By buying meat from an animal that was either birth notified or had 2 registered parents, you can support breeders of pedigree registered stock.
Was the meat from pasture-fed cattle, sheep or goats, or from outdoor reared pigs or poultry?
Although our native and rare breeds may not be as suitable for intensive farming systems, they are usually well suited to more extensive systems. There are also many health benefits to pasture-fed meat.
For more information about pasture-fed meat, visit the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association.
Remember that there is seasonal variation in the availability of meat.
Because native and rare breeds are not usually farmed as intensively, their meat is not always available all year. A good option is often to buy a larger amount when it is available and freezing it for later use.