Author(s): Michael Trotter
Throughout the world, one breed of farm animal becomes extinct every month. This book outlines the history of the breeds of heritage livestock that were brought into, or developed in, New Zealand before 1950. Modern factory-farming methods rely on only a few breeds of livestock, and differentiated breeds are disappearing at an alarming rate; and it's up to dedicated conservators to save them. The call to conserve rare breeds, and therefore biodiversity, is now all the more important. Rare breeds: preserve living remnants of our distant past; biodiversity - if disease or genetic malady should strike common domestic breeds, then hardy, heritage breeds could take up the slack; Some livestock and poultry breeds are best-suited to specific environments and needs. Rare breeds are of interest to owners of boutique farms and lifestyle blocks, and those who value New Zealand's agricultural history and the importance of biodiversity. Breeds with evocative names such as the Two-tooth English Leicester, Romney Marsh sheep, Scottish Blackface sheep, Suffolk Punch horses to the more well known Andalusian chooks, Arapawa goats, Kunekune pigs, Merino sheep and Clydesdale horses are all described.
Beverley McCulloch & Michael Trotter became familiar with rare breeds of livestock when they started their ten-acre smallholding in Tuahiwi, North Canterbury in the 1990s. There they specialised in raising Dorset Horn sheep, dun Dexter cattle and Arapawa goats - also running a few Orpington chooks, an assortment of bantams, various breeds of ducks, a dog or two and a farm cat. With their knowledge they produced and operated a major website and a quarterly magazine, both for the Rare Breeds Conservation Society of New Zealand, and also wrote articles for magazines such as Growing Today. Both authors were awarded Honorary Life Membership of the Rare Breeds Conservation Society in 2003 in "Recognition of Service in the Conservation of Rare Livestock Breeds." Beverley died before this book was published, but this and other activities that they worked on together have been continued by her husband, Michael.