Mother Earth News Blogs > Homesteading and Livestock

Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.


What Species is a Giant Runt?: Promoting Heritage Breed Poultry

Hi, my name is Alexander Goldberg. I am 15 years old and live with my mom, dad, and little brother on our farm in the mountains of central Virginia. My family raises food for our table. In addition to growing fruits and vegetables in our large garden and fruit orchard, over the years we’ve raised meat and layer chickens, pigs, lambs, ducks and guineas. I have my own flock of over 25 chickens, a motley assortment that I have gathered over the years, including Egyptian Fayumi, Silver Polish, Spangled Old English Game Bantams, Single-combed Nankins and of course my beloved Sumatras (blue, black and splash)! I am a member of the Livestock Conservancy (formerly the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy) and a member of my local 4-H club. My special interests include rare and endangered breeds of poultry, especially the Sumatra chicken. I attend a couple of poultry shows every year and successfully participate in the senior showmanship class.

Promoting Heritage Breed PoultryAlexander Goldberg With Endangered Poultry

My first experience with Mother Earth News was in 2011. Brian Welch (editor for Mother Earth News) came to Charlottesville, Virginia, to speak at the Heritage Harvest Festival (a festival held at President Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, to which many people come and give lectures). While here, he was interviewed on television about his book, Beautiful and Abundant. The Livestock Conservancy emailed its members, looking for a small, friendly bird that Mr. Welch could hold during the interview. I volunteered my Old English Game Bantam hen, Comet (nicknamed Metta). I got to meet Mr. Welch right before the interview and I watched it from the sidelines. Metta behaved admirably with the exception of a tiny little accident on the table.

In this blog I hope to chronicle my trips to shows, experiences with the breeds I am raising, and other stories that come up. I will also share stories and information about rare and endangered (and possibly unheard of) breeds of poultry, interesting facts about them, and why efforts to protect these breeds are so important. The Livestock Conservancy is an organization that helps to find and preserve rare and endangered breeds of livestock and poultry. I first learned of the LC from my grandparents who have friends involved with the organization. They introduced our family to the LC and, when I started with 4-H, I also started reading the newsletters. Later, after I had become a member myself, Dr Martin, who is the Research and Technical Programs Director for the LC, came to visit our farm along with Dr Eric Hallman, the Executive Director, and asked me if I would be interested in blogging about my adventures and here I am today!

What Species is a ‘Giant Runt’?

At the end of each post I will have a question that I will answer in the next post, and this week’s question is: What species of animal is a Giant Runt? Have fun finding out! Feel free to share your answers in the comment section. See you next time!


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.