Our Work

We’re Launching an Alternative to Factory Farm Poultry

Preservation Through Food Production

In the early 1800s, millions of American bison roamed the plains. Less than 100 years later, their numbers had been reduced to a mere 541 animals. While early conservation efforts helped raise this figure modestly, it was only when farmers began raising bison for meat that their population grew back into the hundreds of thousands.

Much like the early bison, the millions of healthy happy Standardbred chickens and turkeys that used to occupy the American landscape are now on the brink of extinction.* Their populations have been replaced by a sick mono-crop of over nine billion fast-growing industrial hybrids, which live short and difficult lives.

*Based on census numbers provided by – The American Poultry Association

56 Day Growth Rate of Broilers Over Time

Source: “Growth, efficiency, and yield of commercial broilers from 1957, 1978, and 2005” by Zuidhof et al.

The breeder parents of these birds are kept in total confinement and many must be artificially inseminated to reproduce. Their living conditions and compromised immune systems have led to many outbreaks of highly pathogenic viruses and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In contrast, Standardbred varieties thrive in the outdoors and represent the gold standard in genetic health and animal welfare for poultry species.

Frank Reese, now in his 70s, is the last remaining breeder of certified Standardbred poultry for commercial food production in the United States. If we do not preserve his legacy, these birds will disappear.

Just as conservation through food production saved the American bison, so will we save America’s most important market breeds of poultry. Through our efforts and with your support, the great extinction of America’s natural poultry breeds and its holistic farming system will be reversed.

The New Chicken of Tomorrow Goals

We have identified 10 breeds of chickens and turkeys that are the most important to the preservation of Standardbred poultry production. Our efforts will increase the numbers of these breeds to:

10,000+ birds on 10+ farms by 2023
100,000+ birds on 100+ farms by 2028
1,000,000+ birds on 500+ farms by 2038
10,000,000+ birds on 1,000+ farms by 2048

This initial push will lift the breeds out of endangered status and build a solid foundation to rebuild biodiversity, genetic health, and welfare back into the American poultry system.

How We Do It

Conceptual Renderings of the Good Shepherd Conservancy Center.

We will achieve our conservation goal by rebuilding America’s historic Standardbred poultry industry. This monumental effort will be based out of the Good Shepherd Conservancy Center (GSCC), a one-of-a-kind cultural landmark and headquarters of our effort to revive the only viable alternative to the industrial poultry system.

At the GSCC, participants of our Farm Fellowship will get the tools and training they need to save our most important market breeds of poultry from extinction. Along with training and ongoing mentorship, farmers will receive Good Shepherd’s renowned Certified Standardbred genetics. These tools will empower them to successfully and independently produce Standardbred poultry, growing and stabilizing their populations for future generations to come.

The center will captivate the general public through exciting live poultry exhibits and an interactive multi-media learning center focused on the history of agriculture, Standardbred poultry, and the fast-food industry. Whether for a short visit, half-day program, or immersive multi-day agrotourism stay, it will be a place for the public to taste, touch, and learn at a working farm.

Through these programs, The Good Shepherd Conservancy will facilitate the launch of hundreds of Certified Standardbred poultry farms across the country. This will save these biodiverse breeds from extinction, increase our food sovereignty, enhance animal welfare, and drastically improve the quality and healthiness of America’s poultry supply.

Get Involved

Looking to join our efforts? You can help the Conservancy by donating, put your farm into service through our Farm Fellowship, and support producers by buying Standardbred.

Farm Standardbred

Build the Center

Buy Standardbred

Donation Amount
  • Friend $25+
  • Supporter $100+
  • Sustainer $1,000+
  • Partner $10,000+
  • Founder $100,000+