heifer turns 80: our mission continues

In the 1940s, Dan West conceived of his “not a cup but a cow” philosophy: helping farming families and communities in need to develop the means for lasting improvement in their livelihoods and food security - not just provide handouts.

On July 14, 1944, West facilitated a shipment of cattle from Alabama to Puerto Rico to improve the fortunes of impoverished communities there. This gift of livestock set West on the pathway to founding Heifer International, expanding to support families in Ecuador and Europe and building what is, today, a global effort stretching across Africa, Asia and the Americas.  

Heifer has continued to evolve its ways of working since then but we remain laser-focused on Dan West’s fundamental goal: ending rural hunger and poverty. We do so by supporting locally led community development initiatives, sustainable approaches to productive agriculture and market-led income growth that allow farmers to thrive, not just survive.

80 Years of Ending Hunger and Poverty

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Join us in celebrating Heifer’s 80th anniversary as we highlight our work and our partners on social media.

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In October 2023, members of the Kikibá collective, composed of 143 women entrepreneurs from 15 communities in Yucatán state, Mexico sold their 500,000th egg to the Toks restaurant chain in the city of Mérida. The deal resulted in total sales exceeding 1.5 million Mexican pesos — more than $86,500 — and over 1.3 million pesos in income for the collective's members. 
On International Respect for Chickens Day, we celebrated their achievements and honor @Heifer International’s 80th anniversary. Learn more.

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News & Stories

80 Years on, Heifer continues to work with smallholder communities in 19 countries to help them strengthen their solidarity, resilience and livelihoods

Learn more about Strength in Sisterhood.

Strength in Sisterhood

Harnessing the power of collaboration, these women are breaking new ground, sharing their wisdom and resources to cultivate a future of mutual prosperity.

Read More About Strength in Sisterhood
Learn more about Climate Heroes.

Climate Heroes

Meet Heifer’s eco-champions, smallholder farmers collectively driving sustainable change from Senegal’s drylands to Mexico’s seed sanctuaries.

Read More About Climate Heroes

Stories from Heifer’s History

Learn more about Bovine Intervention Helped Bridge Mississippi Racial Divide.
Bovine Intervention Helped Bridge Mississippi Racial Divide

Bovine Intervention Helped Bridge Mississippi Racial Divide

In the summer of 1955, Heifer Project — now Heifer International — started working with the Prentiss Institute, an African-American junior college and vocational school. It was the start of a 30-year partnership that eventually helped empower families to lead the charge for desegregation in their community.

Learn more about Cowgirl Memories.
Cowgirl Memories

Cowgirl Memories

Kathy Moore was a teenager when she herded 20 cows onto a ship bound for Japan in 1958. Now she usually sticks closer to home, but her dedication to Heifer International is decades strong.

Learn more about Vintage photos showcase little-known pieces of history from Korean War.
Vintage photos showcase little-known pieces of history from Korean War

Vintage Photos Showcase Little-Known Pieces of History From Korean War

War broke out between North Korea and South Korea in the middle of 1950, leaving families mourning loved ones and struggling after the loss of homes and livestock. In 1951, Heifer Project International responded to aid requests from South Korea and assessed the situation. By 1952, Heifer and the United Nations Korean Reconstruction Agency planned a first shipment of hatching eggs to the country.

Learn more about Peggy’s Picks: Heifer’s Historian Shares Photos That Left an Impression.
Peggy’s Picks: Heifer’s Historian Shares Photos That Left an Impression

Peggy’s Picks: Heifer’s Historian Shares Photos That Left an Impression

Seventy-five years ago, farmer and Church of the Brethren member Dan West started the organization that is now Heifer International. After his volunteer service in the Spanish Civil War, West returned determined to create a lasting solution to the rampant hunger he saw among refugees. His plan: instead of giving a cup of milk, donate a cow. Writer and historian Peggy Reiff Miller can’t remember a time when she didn’t know about Heifer. When she was a child and West was in his 60s, the two were members of the same Goshen, Indiana, Church of the Brethren congregation.