Making a living from traditional and rare breeds is a dream that many rightly so, try to materialise. Often farmers and hobbyists will subsidise their animals with another business activity or income to sustain their drive to succeed. Many factors affect the profitability of rare breeds and much depends on the type of management, feeding, location and the size and sustainability of the local market. It is likely the most effective way to utilise rare breeds is extensively in the production of grass fed meat or milk. Possibly utilising cheap, poor quality grazing which is where many primitive and mountain sheep and dual-purpose pigs and cattle come in useful. Intensive management producing meats from rare breeds relying on the feeding of grain can be very costly especially as many breeds are not productive enough and have not evolved for that kind of management. There are niche high end markets for meat and produce from rare breeds but the demand is relatively small and certainly not great enough for every keen keeper of rare breeds to succeed commercially.
A common mistake is made when hobbyist or farmers increase their stock numbers, believing that by having more animals they will make more money. Unfortunately there is not usually enough demand to support the keeping of large numbers. Much as usual depends on who you know, rather than what you know and having friends and associates in the butcher and restaurant trade would be the best way of getting your rare breed meat on sale. However you go about selling breeding stock or produce from your rare breeds a focus and determination to market your produce is essential and may take many years of hard work to succeed. Go to as many farmers markets and shows that you can, create a website and write an article about your set up for a magazine. These are among the best ways to promote your produce. The question is whether all the hard work and late nights are truly worth it considering the returns that you may get and considering the fickle nature and changing habits of the consumer. Unfortunately the truth is the consumer is sadly still reliant on cheap and convenient food sourced from supermarkets and that attitude may for the most part never change. However a movement has begun which is seeing a renewal of interest in better quality food a better lifestyle and a new interest in, ‘grow your own’ principles. Whether the general public regard rare and traditional breeds as the basis of high quality food or the manner with which livestock in general are kept as the basis for better and healthier produce is not certain. I suspect the consumer in general cares little about the breed from which the produce is derived and cares more about the welfare and management method of the animal, preferring perhaps meat from free-range animals rather than from intensively reared ones.
Therefore one may realise that promoting traditional breeds in particular rare breeds and trying to make them pay is always going to be an upward struggle, but still worthwhile in some circumstances as there are often niche markets for it. Without people committed to utilising native breeds the great genetic diversity that exists may in part be lost.
This website aims to promote these breeds as a source of high quality produce for the consumer but where Britannic Rare Breeds really comes in to its own is in the promotion of British breeds as an attribute to any homeowner, hobbyist and smallholder who wishes to maintain livestock, even in small numbers for their own family use. These breeds can be integrated as an important part of any self sufficient and sustainable home. For those that do not have the room to keep animals or for those that wish to try something different this website offers a list of suppliers and local producers that can help.