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The First Candle on The Cake

I would like to welcome everybody, members and non members, to the initial edition of “The Presidents Desk”. This shall serve as a way to keep our members and non-member followers of the Meishan breed apprised of our progress as we work towards our goals as defined in our mission statement. The American Meishan Breeders Association is rapidly coming up on its first birthday. And what a year it has been.  We stand on the brink of a new chapter for the Meishan breed in the US. For over twenty five years the Meishan Breed in the US was genetically isolated in the three research facilities, the USDA US Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center Nebraska, the University of Illinois and Iowa State University. All of the Meishans in these facilities traced their origins to a mere ninety-nine  Meishans that were imported from China in 1989. Split evenly (numerically and genetically) between those facilities they remained genetically isolated from the public and each other while some of the top swine geneticists in the US analyzed and researched the unique traits of the Meishan Breed. Today none of those research herds still exist. But due to the efforts  and , in some cases,  the good fortune,of several dedicated breeders the genetics have not been lost. Our research to date has identified  three breeders , one swine genetics company and one other University (whose herd has since been dispersed) with nucleus herds which drew stock directly from at least one of the three original research herds. And the A.M.B.A. continues to seek out any other private breeders, Universities, municipal zoos or private corporations  who may have also done so and continue to breed pure progeny today. This is truly a new chapter for the breed. But that chapter is both rich in opportunity and fraught with perils as it applies to the breed and its genetic health . To coordinate the effort to catalog,preserve and promote Meishan genetics in North America the American Meishan Breeders Association was formed October of 2016 . This organization exists to benefit both the breed and its breeders. Its primary objective is to develop an accurate pedigree database cataloging verifiably pure progeny from the original importation herd. It is a two-step process. First through a “chain of custody” applicant pigs must be traceable to one of the three research herds ( either Iowa State, University of Illinois or the USDA US Meat Animal Research Center Clay Center NE). This traceability may be direct or through the confirmation  of transfer transactions which lead from the present owner to one or more of the three research herds. And this may include multiple transfers to track and verify.  We have also reserved the right to closely evaluate pigs lacking complete documentation but demonstrating an extremely high confidence of purity as “Meishan Pure on Appearance” or “grade”. This category is reserved for females only and the ability of their offspring(female only) to be registered is closely restricted per our Criteria for Addition to A.M.B.A. Pedigree Herd Book. Then we seek to identify and document  a generational pedigree to be added to our database. In this manner our database will become the genetic history and profile responsible breeders need to undertake a Meishan Breeding Program. It’s a big task but one that is already underway.

The task of preserving any breed with such a small genetic base can be daunting for any one organization.  On June 5th 2017 the American Meishan Breeders Association officially petitioned the Livestock Conservancy to take the Meishan breed under study. Since that time the A.M.B.A. has been working closely with the Livestock Conservancy to research the population of verifiably pure Meishans not only in the U.S. but worldwide. We have been told that a final decision on the breed’s status will be announced in the Spring of 2018. All of the feedback to date has been positive and we eagerly await the final decision. It has been a very thorough process but has resulted in a treasure trove of new information on the breed and its history.

Our efforts with the Livestock Conservancy are just another chapter of cooperation and support the Meishan breed seems to elicit from many who are familiar with it.From day one the inputs of our Advisory Council, fellow breeders, researchers and even members of the Chinese swine academic community have shaped our knowledge of the breed and objectives for its future.We are grateful to all those who have contributed and to those poised to contribute.

If you would like to join the effort to preserve this incredibly unique heritage breed we hope you will consider joining the A.M.B.A. For only $25  you can become an associate annual member. Your membership dues will help significantly in our efforts to promote the breed and its breeders.

If you own or know of someone who owns a pure Meishan or Meishan influenced pig please contact us or complete an A.M.B.A. National Herd Survey Form. It’s just a few moments of your time but may assist us in recapturing as much of the pure genetic base as possible. I hope to meet more and more Meishan owners as the journey continues.

Thanks

Rico Silvera

President American Meishan Breeders Association

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