According to the Heritage Poultry Conservancy and its website, http://www.heritagepoultry.org/ , this is the definition of a heritage breed, an heirloom breed and even an "old-fashioned" breed. 1. APA Standard Breed Heritage Chicken must be from parent and grandparent stock of breeds recognized by the APA prior to the mid-20th century; whose genetic line can be traced back multiple generations; and with traits that meet the APA Standard of Perfection guidelines for the breed. Heritage Chicken must be produced and sired by an APA Standard breed. Heritage eggs must be laid by an APA Standard breed. 2. Naturally mating. Heritage Chicken must be reproduced and genetically maintained through natural mating. Chickens marketed as heritage must be the result of naturally mating pairs of both grandparent and parent stock. 3. Long productive outdoor lifespan. Heritage Chicken must have the genetic ability to live a long, vigorous life and thrive in the rigors of pasture-based, outdoor production systems. Breeding hens should be productive for 5-7 years and roosters for 3-5 years. 4. Slow growth rate. Heritage Chicken must have a moderate to slow rate of growth, reaching appropriate market weight for the breed in no less than 14 weeks. This gives the chicken time to develop strong skeletal structure and healthy organs prior to building muscle mass. In my opinion, this definition is somewhat contradictory and needs some revision. I believe it is also the definition that is generally being used to describe all "heritage breed" threads on BYC and all over the internet, etc. which is why I believe we need to really examine it. I completely agree with the first three points, but when I get to the fourth point, I disagree on several points. We make the statement that the breed must be APA standard. Great. I completely agree. Breeds like Marans, Orlorffs, etc. are not old-fashioned in the USA and are definitely not heritage if they haven't been supported enough to become standardized since the inception of the APA. They would be heritage in France and Russia, respectively, I hope. But the problem is point #4. Nowhere in the Standard does it say that we breed for slow growth rate. In fact, the Standard says basically the opposite. Every breed that is a good egg producer is labeled as such and every breed that is labeled a good table bird is promoted as such. There is even a special section in the front of all modern standards that explains how to choose one's birds based on the body quality and body condition of those birds. There are two pictures describing a good carcass and poor one. Certainly a standard-bred bird is not and never has been one that has "a slow growth rate." Secondly, the fourth point even contradicts itself in saying first a slow growth rate and then a moderate or slow one. What is purpose of breeding something inefficiently? If a person had a truck that got 12 mpg and could go from 0 to 60 in 9 seconds and one that got 20 mpg and could go from 0 to 60 in 6 seconds I can tell you which one I'd recommend him to drive...Similarly, there is no need to require inefficiency in our chickens. We can all figure out which ones are the most efficient within a normal bound. Obviously, very few people plan to breed standard Rocks that mature to 8 pounds in 8 weeks. In fact, while not impossible, it is highly unlikely it could even be done by a fancier hatching 100-300 chicks per year. But if a person were to focus on breeding his birds for economic characteristics, that is no reason to say that they are not "heritage." Is there really any purpose in this point at all? I suppose there is a purpose in assuring that heritage chicken is soundly developed. But how many of you are going to breed from a bird with slipped tendons, split wings, and other developmental problems? Isn't that sufficiently covered in point #2? The obvious solution is to simply breed quality birds to quality birds and the growth rate will never become a problem. I am personally afraid that the inclusion of this point is only inflammatory, mostly toward commercial poultry production, and short-sighted. For some reason, many people seem to have something against commercial animal production in an economically effective way. There is very little reason that any animosity needs to be present in this definition on any level. That only serves to alienate people from our hobby. If you were to ask anyone who raises poultry commercially what he/she thinks of that point, they would almost certainly be opposed to it. Obviously, a bird that takes 14 or more weeks to raise to 6-8 pounds will convert feed at a much lower rate and, therefore, cause more waste. And just because a commercial bird grows faster, that doesn't make it inedible or inappropriate for human consumption. There is a simple solution. Using a different approach, the definition could say what it needs to say about structurally sound birds and healthy organs without making a comment that is inefficient, mandates wasted time and resources, and offends an industry that feeds billions of people on a daily basis worldwide. It could say something to this effect: 4. Moderated growth rate. Heritage Chicken must have a rate of growth that gives the chicken time to develop strong skeletal structure and healthy organs prior to building muscle mass. What do you think? I simply changed the same definition by removing part of it and changing the title. Nothing was added. Now, I can breed a Faverolle in 12 weeks to 6-7 pounds and do so with sound body structure, I have created a bird that is not only a more viable commercial option, but also one that is more attractive to people interested in making more money and less waste. I can even still market my bird, legitimately, as "Heritage Chicken." Are you smelling what I'm stepping in?