Current ALBC News Sample Article: January/February 2012
Members Take Stock at Annual Conference
The Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas was host to ALBC’s 2011 Annual Conference - Taking Stock: Knowledge, Economics, and Rare Breeds Friday,November 11th and Saturday, November 12th. Over 100 ALBC members and guests convened for two days of clinics, sessions, dinners, and of course – zoo tours! Attendees enjoyed learning about rare breed censusing, animal husbandry, and marketing techniques from an outstanding lineup of presenters and appreciated the opportunity to network with members from across the country.
The first events held Friday morning were the Pre-Conference C linics which covered an array of topics relating to rare breeds. Breeding Rare Breed Rabbits for Productivity was a popular clinic where attendees learned about one of the fastest growing markets in America – rabbit meat. This hands-on clinic included evaluations of rare breed rabbits, focusing on production characteristics and successful breeding practices. Tail to Snout: What I t T akes T o Be Successful With Heritage Hogs received rave reviews and taught members how to raise hogs in natural, outdoor environments and explained how to select healthy and productive breeding stock. Presenters discussed hog-specific marketing techniques and attendees participated in an interactive question and answer session. Another clinic, Tradition and Techniques: Learning to Cook W ith Heritage Breed Meats, took participants on a culinary journey through time as they learned traditional heritage meat cooking methods and rediscovered old recipes. The food from the clinic was a big hit and included Silver Laced Wyandotte r oast c hicken s liders, Black Jersey Giant c hicken s oup with nutmeg noodles, and g round Barred Plymouth Rock German b ier-rocks, among many other tasty heritage meat entrees.
After lunch, the afternoon clinics were equally as interesting and engaging as the earlier ones. In the Quest for Quality – Finding and Maintaining Excellent Standard-Bred Poultry clinic, attendees learned invaluable information about how the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection can be effectively used in evaluating their own flocks, and how to select quality breeding birds. The Tricky Business of Managing a Breed Association clinic provided an in-depth look at issues such as financial management and conflict resolution, and participants left motivated to apply the principle s they learned to their own breed associations. The message (and title) of the third clinic was Handspinners and Knitters Want to Buy Your Rare Breed Wool! Those attending received a copy of The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook and listened to book co-author Deborah Robson explain the recent upsurge in interest in the rare breed wool industry and how sheep owners can generate additional income from selling their wool while supporting breed conservation.
Friday evening festivities began at the Hilton Wichita Airport Executive Conference Center with a silent auction that included many items generously donated to ALBC by our members. Tables containing the auction items stretched the entire length of the room, and bidding on several items lasted up until the moment the auction ended. Next, the Meat and Eat reception began. ALBC members and conference guests mingled over hors d’oeuvres (including a fantastic American and American Chinchilla rabbit liver pâté donated by Callene and Eric Rapp of the Rare Hare Barn) and traded stories about their experiences with heritage breeds. After the appetizers, dinner was served . The menu featured Pineywoods b eef donated by Jess Brown of Cowpen Creek Farm. Delicious Pineywoods meatballs in mushroom ragout and a delectable beef stew were showcased.
Saturday morning, attendees returned to the zoo for a networking breakfast, followed by the first plenary session Uncommon Fare: People Want Interesting Food, presented by Hank Will, editor in chief of GRIT magazine and contributing editor, Mother Earth News. Hank described the growing market in America for locally grown, sustainable food and how people who raise heritage breeds can capitalize on the increasing demand for their products. A wide variety of sessions including giving farm tours, biosecurity, and farm economics were presented throughout the day, providing conference attendees the knowledge and skills they need to be successful on their farms. Some people who attended the conference did not currently own animals, but agreed that all sessions were very informative and better helped them understand why rare breed conservation is so important.
ALBC Technical Advisor and noted geneticist Dr. Phil Sponenberg addressed eager listeners at the second p lenary s ession, Taking Stock 2011, as he explained the complexities of conducting a rare breed census and announced that ALBC will be conducting another census in the near future. Between sessions, attendees enjoyed viewing posters set up by members along the corridors of the conference building while other people enjoyed zoo tours. The Children’s Farm exhibits, which contain 27 different rare breeds, were most popular. These zoo exhibits list each breed’s ALBC Conservation Priority List category to help educate the public on the importance of rare breed conservation.
Saturday night, the conference closing ceremony held at the Conference Center began with a rare breeds buffet featuring Red Poll ground beef “barbeque steak” donated by Wayne and Sue Fish of Nine West Oak Canyon Red Polls and savory American Chinchilla r abbit s ausage donated by Callene and Eric Rapp . The final event of the conference was a “ live” auction. Membership Services Manager Ryan Walker served as auctioneer, and Operations Manager Angelique Thompson acted as “Vanna” (blonde wig, evening gown and all!), doing a spectacular job displaying auction items for the bidders. The live auction was such a success, that ALBC has decided to make it a tradition at future conferences. We look forward to seeing everyone in Raleigh, North Carolina for next year’s conference, November 9-11, 2012!
Missed the ALBC conference this year? Misplaced some of those notes you took? Some of the presentations given are now online! Visit www.albc-usa.org to view and download your favorites today.
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