It’s always sad when well-meaning people embark on a doomed effort. Current attempts at breed preservation are a good example.
Breed preservation is a very simple task. The goal is to take the surviving remnant of an old breed and maintain it so that it retains whatever fraction of its genetic diversity still remains. This is fairly easy to do with chickens, which are reasonably inexpensive to keep in the required numbers. Basically, the technique is to keep several hundred individuals and do random matings, with no culling and no attempt at selective breeding. This can maintain the breed, unchanged, indefinitely. That’s what preservation is all about.
Selective breeding is the opposite of this: you breed only from selected individuals. With each generation, your flock becomes less representative of what you started with, and becomes something new instead. (Quite possibly, it becomes extinct through inbreeding.)
Sadly, groups like the American Livestock Breeding Conservancy just don’t get it. In their breeding guides, they are heavily into selection and culling, which is the worst thing they could do. Sigh.
This is the sort of thing that causes poultry scientists to periodically call for an effort to do it right. Selective breeding has caused commercial strains to lose about 50% of their genetic diversity (I’m surprised that it isn’t much higher). Conservation organizations like the ALBC aren’t helping, because they, too, are heavily into selection. So far, government attempts at breed preservation have always seemed to fail as soon as budgets became tight.
The remaining option is probably for someone to endow a foundation with enough money to acquire several dispersed facilities and hire some geneticists to acquire stock and manage the breeding program. The methods of breed preservation are well-understood by geneticists, but apparently not by anyone else.
This would be a very cool thing. I’d contribute my share.