Roy Crawford was born on June 6, 1933, in Saskatoon. He completed a BSA in Poultry Husbandry at the University of Saskatchewan in 1955 and received an MSc in Animal Genetics from Cornell University in 1957. From 1957 until 1964, Crawford was a research officer in Agriculture Canada, with postings in Ottawa, Charlottetown and Kentville. During this period, he returned to school and received his PhD in Poultry Genetics from the University of Massachusetts in 1963. In 1964, he accepted the position of professor of Poultry Science at the University of Saskatchewan, which he held until he retired on June 30, 1991. He taught in the areas of poultry genetics, breeding and husbandry, but has also made significant contributions in teaching introductory Animal Science and Animal Genetics courses. He taught in the College of Agriculture, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Graduate Studies and Research, and the School of Agriculture. When the College of Agriculture established the award of Professor of the Year, Crawford received the initial honour in 1977. Similarly, he was named the first University of Saskatchewan Master Teacher in 1984, and on two occasions was designated Professor of the Year in the College of Veterinary Medicine. In 1981, he was presented with the Ralston Purina Teaching Award by the Poultry Science Association.
Crawford published over sixty papers in refereed journals, presented or was a co-author on a similar number of papers at scientific meetings, as well as giving numerous invited lectures. One of his most important contributions was the discovery of a mutation which caused epileptiform seizures in chickens; this mutation is still an important animal model in the study of the grand mal form of epilepsy in humans. Upon the request of the Poultry Science Association, in 1989-90 he edited and wrote five chapters of Poultry Breeding and Genetics, the first comprehensive review of this topic since F.B. Hung published “Genetics of the Fowl” in 1949. This text is already considered a classic contribution to our knowledge of poultry science. A world leader in the area of animal genetic conservation, Crawford published in 1968 the first catalogue of poultry stocks held at teaching and research institutions in Canada, and continued to publish this document on an annual basis until 1981. Thereafter, the catalogue was included in the document “Research Animals in Canada,” which was produced in co-operation with the Canadian Council on Animal Care. Crawford was an active member of the FAO/UNEP Expert Panel on Genetic Resources Conservation, and has lectured extensively on the philosophy and technical aspects of germplasm preservation. Currently, he is a member of an ad hoc planning committee for Rare Breeds International, a new organization for the global coordination of national rare breeds conservation groups, and an executive member of the American Minor Breeds Conservancy. He was named a Fellow of the Agricultural Institute of Canada in 1986, and of the Poultry Science Association in 1991.