Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Why Do You Value Your Heritage Breed Livestock?

10/25/2010 3:03:24 PM

Tags: sustainable agriculture, heritage breed livestock, question to readers

Heritage Breed Livestock

What type of heritage breed livestock would you recommend to other readers, and what makes it so special?

Heritage breeds, also known as traditional livestock breeds, are those which are threatened due to the changing nature of conventional agriculture (learn more at the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy website). Angus cattle are raised en masse for their qualities attractive to large scale meat producers. Holsteins are the cow of choice for industrial dairy operations. But there is a broad spectrum of livestock breeds out there that represent the critical biodiversity of animal agriculture in general. Heritage breeds are a piece of history, after all, and many are in grave danger of dying out, despite their long list of admirable qualities and adaptability to the small farm and homestead setting.

We’ve discussed the benefits of raising heritage breeds many a time (Why You Should Care About Heritage Breeds, Saving Heritage Breeds, Homesteading with Heritage Breeds), but we’d like to hear from you. Why do you so value your heritage animals?

 



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Post a comment below.

 

Corinne
11/1/2010 5:42:33 PM
I raise purebred Dexters and have Highlands in the past. I did keep one Highland Heifer and bred her with my Dexter bull (not sure what I will get). It was too difficult to try to raise both breeds with the bulls and I found the Dexters to be a little easier for me to handle. I do love my Dexters and would have liked to have kept all the Highlands if I could have (registration is also very difficult so make sure you get the correct papers for the Highlands to start with--I didn't and it cost me).

louie
10/31/2010 4:13:16 PM
I would dissent somewhat from Patrick's comment. Of course he is right about the modern market animal that is bred to fill a niche. But where he is wrong is that we are swinging back to another, older form of agriculture. With the advent of Farmer's Markets and the popularity of the CSA we are also seeing a rebirth of the traditional family farm, homesteading and the market farm. This is exactly the agricultural need that many of these breeds fulfilled. The dexter cattle, for instance, can be kept nicely on a single acre of ground. Produces a good carcass, in fact was the basis of the black angus breed and also produces a very good high fatted milk very suitable for the home dairy. A good , all rounder. Many hog breeds are much better at producing a good , flavorful carcass but won't stand up to the rigors of concentrated population, hog house living.... therefore are not marketable for the mega-farm. the list goes on. My feeling is that the need for these breeds has reoccurred and that we would be foolish to lose them, notwithstanding the need for the bio-diversity that they represent.

catllyon
10/28/2010 10:55:16 PM
I am really excited as I search the heritage breeds I want for my small farm. I have decided on Buckeye chickens, an Oberhasli milking goat, a Guernsey for butter, cheese, and cream, and a belted Galloway for the freezer (and looks). Once I dig my pond, I plan on getting Cotton Patch geese for my gardens. I love the idea of having animals that have a history and that I can help that breed continue in history. It may be a pain to search out ethical breeders, but the search is well worth the time, money and energy when you have an animal that can produce for you. And honestly it is really cool to own a breed that not every has or that one can get from the local tractor supply or agmart.

Nancy Baaske
10/27/2010 10:13:30 PM
We have a small herd of Scottish Highland and a small herd of Belted Galloway cattle. I can't say enough positive things regarding these breeds. Many people feel uncomfortable around the Highland cattle because of their horns. They are NOT aggressive at all and given respect any animal deserves and the space for their horns, which are a part of their body, they really are decorative and part of their charm, and not threatening at all. I lay on my Highland bull! He is very sweet and mellow, and loves to be brushed. The meat is very delicious. Both breeds are easy keepers and require very little maintenance. I would highly recommend both of these breeds, especially if you have a modest amount of land or need to balance a farm with a job. I am a woman and manage these breeds mostly by myself.

Patrick_28
10/27/2010 1:20:09 PM
One tends to forget the heritage breeds were developed from other more ancestorial breeds, long since forgot. The reason for the different breeds being developed has always to produce a cattle better suited to the needs of the time and the rancher of the era. If one wants to preserve some of this lines because they like how the look or feel a need for a rather ambigious genetic diversity desire, that has its merit. Otherwise in modern agriculture most of the old breed have little merit because of several drawbacks inherent in the breed leading to their reduces popularity. One item often overlooked is how much better most of the modern breeds convert feed to carcass weight. This is a good environment trait, because the less feed needed the less impact an individual animal has on the environment. Modern cattle breeds fulfill this need much better than any of the older breeds do and the need for cattle to protect themselves from large predators is no longer an important issue. So several of the older breeds are very cute, but environmentally, none of them are able to compete with modern breeds when it comes to impact on the environment.

Patrick_28
10/27/2010 1:15:55 PM
One tends to forget the heritage breeds were developed from other more ancestorial breeds, long since forgot. The reason for the different breeds being developed has always to produce a cattle better suited to the needs of the time and the rancher of the era. If one wants to preserve some of this lines because they like how the look or feel a need for a rather ambigious genetic diversity desire, that has its merit. Otherwise in modern agriculture most of the old breed have little merit because of several drawbacks inherent in the breed leading to their reduces popularity. One item often overlooked is how much better most of the modern breeds convert feed to carcass weight. This is a good environment trait, because the less feed needed the less impact an individual animal has on the environment. Modern cattle breeds fulfill this need much better than any of the older breeds do and the need for cattle to protect themselves from large predators is no longer an important issue. So several of the older breeds are very cute, but environmentally, none of them are able to compete with modern breeds when it comes to impact on the environment.

Michael Amoroso_4
10/27/2010 12:13:08 PM
I dont have the resources at this point to raise live stock however growing up around cattle has given me some insite in their care and attitude. My Neighbor has Scottish Hiland cattle. Living in Wyoming presents 3 problems, summer heat which can be excessive, winter cold and snow and high wind which also be excessive and miles upon miles of Buffalo grass. His Highlanders if given enough water do very well in the summer as they lose much of that long coarse hair and really do well in the winter, all they need is some kind of wind break when things get severe and as far as the Buffalo Grass these guys do very well on it, when the snow gets deep you need to give them some hay until the snow blows to Nebraska and then they can forage again. I mentioned attitude before and that is because they are not polled and have large scarry horns, however other than being pushed around they are relatively doscile. their meat is very lean but is also well marbled, if you are just raising them for your family they are great but if you are raising them for a buisness you might want to look at another breed







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