RALEIGH, N.C. — Different breeds of farm animals are disappearing with new advances in farming. A group in Chatham County is working to save the past.
Stewart Lucas bought his first Belted Galloway cows in 1989. At the time, he did not know they were part of an endangered breed.
"I just saw them up at a farm in Pittsboro. They were unusual and I liked the way they looked," he said. "We had some cattle and just took an interest in them. They were odd. They were rare."
As Lucas fell in love with the breed, he discovered they were hard to find. He discovered that at the time, there were only 600 Belties registered in the United States.
"We felt like we were helping to preserve the animals," he said.
And they were. There are fewer than 250 Belties in the world, currently.
Preserving rare breeds of farm animals is a full-time job for Don Bixby, who works with the
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
Bixby says breeds have become rare because agriculture has changed, and so have farmers' needs. The Conservancy protects genetic diversity in livestock and poultry, in part because the animals could possess traits that humans need in the future, and once they are gone, they are gone forever.
Many of the breeds would disappear without groups like the Conservancy.
Currently, one of the most endangered farm animals is the black-colored turkey.