Why Do You Value Your Heritage Breed Livestock?

| 10/25/2010 3:03:24 PM

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?


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).

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.

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.

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