MEET THE ANIMALS
At our farm you will find many different varieties of heritage breeds. Heritage breed animals were bred over time to develop traits that made them particularly well-adapted to local environmental conditions. They are genetically unaltered breeds, that have stood the test of time. Most times, heritage breeds are also on the critically endangered species lists. By breeding and raising these animals we are working to gain awareness to their unique and special values. In doing so, we are helping to keep them from extinction, where their unique genes would be lost forever. Our goal is to maintain variety within our livestock populations, helping to preserve valuable traits within the species so that future breeds can continue to endure.
Our man-made ‘industrial agriculture’ breeds such as the Angus cattle and Cornish Cross chickens have been genetically manipulated to produce unnaturally large amounts of meat, milk or eggs. They are bred to gain weight quickly or yield particular types of meat in unnatural, confined facilities.
Heritage breeds are unchanged by man and they are much better adapted to withstand disease naturally and survive in adverse environmental conditions, which makes them better suited to living in a pasture based, sustainable farming atmosphere.
The Heritage Breed Animals you will find on our farm include:
Belted Galloway cattle. Also known as the ‘Oreo Cookie Cow’, these gentle mid-size cows are currently on the ALBC’s Conservation Priority List listed as Recovering. (Breeds that were once listed in another category and have exceeded Watch category numbers but are still in need of monitoring).
Originating in Scotland, they are well adapted to living on pastures and the windswept moorlands of the region. They do extremely well in a pasture based system, happy to eat not only the lush pasture grasses, but also will eat many different greens; such as brush and weeds that other breeds won’t touch. They are a ‘dual purpose’ cow, meaning they produce both excellent lean and flavorful meat and a high quality milk.
Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs. Also called the ‘orchard pig’, these floppy eared gentle giants are currently on the ALBC’s Conservation Priority List listed as Critical (Fewer than 200 annual registrations in the United States and estimated global population less than 2,000). Recognized as the oldest pedigree spotted pig in the world, the GOS are remarkably hardy and excellent foragers. They have excellent maternal instincts and even temperaments. They can withstand harsh weather and adverse conditions due in part to their higher body fat ratio. They produce highly flavorful meats and smooth, creamy lard. Unfortunately in the pursuit of efficient, industry-compatible hybrids, and dietary trends, where people believed vegetable fat was better for you than animal fats, the demand for these lard-producing pigs sharply declined leading to a near extinction of these beautiful, wonderful animals.
Katahdin Sheep. The Katahdin is a hair breed of sheep, meaning they shed their heavy coats without needing to be sheared. They are currently on the ALBC’s Conservation Priority List listed as Recovering. The Katahdin is selected to be an efficient meat producing sheep adapted to a wide variety of environments. While the winter coat provides enough protection for the sheep to thrive in cold climates, their short, hair coat allows them to tolerate the heat and humidity of warmer regions. Katahdins demonstrate greater parasite resistance than commercial wooled breeds.
Chickens. We have a wide variety of heritage breed chickens that roam our farm. They include: Brahmas, New Hampshires, Jersey Giants, Orpingtons, Wyandottes, Australorps and Araucanas. These beautiful birds provide us with colorful, delicious orange-yolked eggs and flavorful plump roasters. It’s a wonderful sight to see the colorful birds pecking their way lazily around the farm. We call them our all-natural manure spreaders as they love to scratch and peck their way behind the other farm animals, with the side benefit of cleaning up much of what the others left behind.
Ducks. Our ducks include the heritage breed of Cayuga. They are currently on ALBC’s Conservation Priority List listed as Threatened (Fewer than 1,000 breeding birds in the United States, with seven or fewer primary breeding flocks, and estimated global population less than 5,000).
Recognized as one of the hardiest of the domestic ducks and are easily tamed if hand-raised. They tolerate the harsh winters of the northeast and can produce many offspring. The Cayuga averages 7-8 lbs. and has the ability to obtain much of its diet from foraging, when given appropriate areas to explore for food. The meat of the Cayuga is reputed to be of excellent taste and fine quality. They are prolific ducks and can lay 100-150 eggs per year that can be used for general eating and baking purposes.