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Did you know that the idea for Heifer came from Dan West, a relief working whose job was to ladle milk rations to refugees of the Spanish Civil War? Or that in Heifer International's early years, "seagoing cowboys" brought heifers by boat to the countries we served?

If you were one of the folks who got an email from our very own Kathy Moore, a seagoing cowgirl and Heifer employee, I bet you know that stuff now. But you all asked Kathy lots of other questions about our history, and we wanted to take some time to answer those questions. 

If you're not currently subscribed to our emails, you can do so at the bottom of the page. You'll learn all sorts of fun things, find out Heifer happenings and get first hand look at fun videos and quizzes. 

Q. What were some of the longest and most difficult trips that your heifers had to take to get to their new homes?

A. Fortunately, this email was very popular and lots of people have sent in great questions! Unfortunately, Mrs. Kathy is unable to get to all them in a timely fashion (she still works full time with us her eat the HQ) so we in Donor Services are helping her out. 

In regards to her trip, I wanted to send you the link to the detailed story that ran in World Ark, which is:

Her story is very interesting and we are working really hard to get everyone information and personal responses. She's become a bit of a celebrity in her own right! 

Unfortunately I can't answer specifically which trip would have been the most jarring on the animals but I will tell you (and you can see from the above story) that every effort and precaution was taken when caring for the animals and it was the top priority! 

As for current day,  Heifer does not ship animals between countries very often. Heifer purchases most of its animals locally (i.e., within the country of the project). This minimizes time spent dealing with import restrictions and also places money back into the local economy where the animals were purchased. 

When Heifer does make a shipment, we abide by all the health regulations, and often exceed the official requirements. This allows us to get import permits. If we find that a requirement is totally inappropriate, we negotiate a change and sometimes involve the USDA in doing so, since it has worked out agreements with many countries governing the importation of livestock. 

Actually, Heifer is not in the business of providing animals. Instead, we are involved in the community and people development business. Animals and training are the tools we use. 

Q. I understand biogas stoves run on methane gas from animal waste.  How often are biogas stoves given to families that raise cows, swine, hogs, or other animals that produce considerable amounts of waste?  Is it possible that in the future, a biogas stove could always come with the gift of a cow, a hog, etc?  I think that would be a great way of making sure that the waste from these animals does not leak into waterways or contribute to climate change with the gases it gives off. 

A. Biogas is the gas produced when manure is processed in a bio-digester. Specific quantities of manure and water are "fed” into the bio-digester, where the manure breaks down and produces two by-products. The first, methane gas, is tapped and used for lighting and cooking in the household. The rest, called slurry, is used as organic fertilizer. Read our Magical Manure blog series! 

The amount of gas and fertilizer produced are dependent upon the amount of manure and water; there are both minimum and maximums depending upon the size of the bio-digester. With several head of cattle, there can be enough of both to sustain a family. However, there is not infrastructure or quantity sufficient to sell into any sort of regional or national energy grid.

Manure from cattle, water buffalo, goats and even humans is suitable for biogas units; manure from poultry is not. Several of our country programs have small biogas initiatives that accompany other projects. Our program in Uganda has a large scale, national program.

In terms of value, the methane gas is not sold, but can provide families with a source of energy they never had or save them from using liquid paraffin, which can be both costly and dangerous. Fertilizer can be both a cost savings and a source of revenue. There are positive impacts on human health, education, energy savings/availability and the environment through utilization of bio-gas units.

Heifer’s part in this can be providing the livestock, providing the bio-digester, proving the know-how or some combination of all three. In any case, it is never an outright gift as the recipient is required to Pass on the Gift.

Q. I'm curious to know how many countries and approx. number of people have been helped through Heifer's work?

A. Since 1944, Heifer has helped more than 100 million people in more than 125 countries. I would encourage you to check out the following webpage: If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to reply to this email.

Q. How can I get involved with Heifer International as a volunteer?

A. Heifer International currently has two ways for individuals to volunteer: 

1.      Community Volunteers –  

  • Heifer Community Volunteers promote Heifer through educational presentations and fundraising activities across the United States. The support of individuals, schools, congregations, civic groups and other organizations is vital to Heifer’s work.
  • Heifer needs the help of Community Volunteers to build and maintain meaningful relationships with supporters throughout the US.
  • Community volunteers may:
    • Plan a fundraiser
    • Share Heifer’s mission and Educational resources in your community
    • Staff a display at a conference, county fair or alternative gift market
    • Give a presentation to a local school, congregation or civic group
    • How to apply: Go to for more volunteering information and to apply online 

2.      Learning Centers Volunteers  

Learning Center volunteers work at one of Heifer’s three facilities (Heifer Farm, Heifer Ranch and Heifer Village)

  • Leading educational programming
  • Caring for livestock
  • Tending gardens
  • Maintaining facilities
  • Assisting with special events
  • Providing operations support.
  • Learning Center volunteers
  • Residential Volunteers – Live onsite and dedicate months, even an entire year, to full-time volunteering.
  • Day Volunteers – Live offsite and serve in a variety of full- or part-time roles.
  • Requirements – You must be at least 18 years old.
  • How to apply: Individuals interested in volunteering at Heifer International Learning Centers may email or visit the website and apply directly online or view position descriptions and available volunteer opportunities 

International Programs:

Currently, we do not offer volunteer opportunities in our overseas projects. Heifer uses volunteers from within the country as they know the language and culture, have locally appropriate expertise, and help Heifer link to many local resources. 

Other Opportunities:

You can support Heifer’s mission to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth every day by:

  • Eating local, sustainably produced food (including meats and fish)
  • Supporting getting local, sustainably produced foods into your city/town’s institutions (schools, hospitals, etc.)
  • Growing your own backyard garden
  • Teaching someone (yourself, children, neighbor, etc.) to cook
  • Consuming less, reusing or repurposing items.

Thank you for your interest in Heifer International!


Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.