Dan West was a farmer from Goshen, Indiana. He was also a missionary and educator for the Church of the Brethren in the Spanish Civil War of 1939. After running out of powdered milk for hungry children he realized that the world's poor and hungry needed "not a cup, but a cow." In 1944 he founded Heifer International (then known as the Brethren Service Committee based in Elgin, Illinois) to address that need. The first shipment of animals left Mobile, Alabama, for wartorn Europe in July of that same year.
West pioneered the concept of the "living loan." Recipients of female domesticated cows, rabbits, and chickens paid off their loans by giving away the first female offspring of the animal to another needy family.
In the 1970s Heifer purchased ranches across the country, as well as in Perryville, Arkansas, to hold cattle donated by ranchers in a price slump.
- "Down-to-Earth Project," Time Magazine, July 24, 1944.