In the traditional Christmas story, the star that hailed the birth of Christ was seen by shepherds and goatherds, tending their flocks by night in Bethlehem. These were the workers of the land, who wanted to ensure the safety of their precious animals and keep predators like wolves at bay during night hours. The Bible Story most children enact in their school Nativity play contains the very essence of traditional animal husbandry. Manpower to look after livestock was necessary,  long before today’s electric fences were invented! They did it the hard way. Aside from the religious connotations, the Christmas Story shows us how essential a diversity of thriving and productive livestock is to a community. The shepherd’s simple husbandry techniques are still a way of life in many countries, for those fortunate enough to own livestock. If you are looking for a Christmas gift idea and charitable donation rolled into one, there are organisations that offer the chance to buy a gift of chickens or goats for families in impoverished areas of the world so they can feed themselves in the coming year. We are lucky today in Ireland to have a healthy mix of farm animals  to meet all our needs.  At Good Food Ireland, we realise how important our farming industry is in providing a wealth of foodstuffs. The shepherds and goatherds counted their four legged blessings – one by one – as they looked after their animals each night. We have many dedicated farmers who relate to that theory and understand the vital importance of proper care of stock. We say a big thank you and a very Merry Christmas to them now.