I have been working through all 5,000 some posts of the Heritage Large Fowl thread and that has got me thinking what about other “heritage” breeds of livestock?
In each of the species what breeds do you see as heritage? What would your definition be?
For myself I think of animals with a long history in the United States that have been bred up. My cattle breed of choice is the Limousine, a French heritage breed but not an American one. I don’t consider most landraces heritage breeds, but like in everything there are some exceptions like the Mammoth Jack.
In horses some breeds are quite old but don’t have a long history in the United States, and there are a lot of old breeds we hardly see any of anymore like the Hackney.
Part of my “bred up” qualification is that for me heritage also harkens back to the 1880 through 1940 era where purebred livestock was a booming business, and produced a lot of usability for the small farmer. The Florida Cracker cow might be old but it doesn’t have the usability traits for the average small farmer like another heritage breed the Shorthorn does.
This is an important discussion with the new interest in small and sustainable farms. Sometimes I think new people get sucked into fad rare breeds instead of what I would call good heritage breeds. For example there was a local person who started a sheep farm and stocked it with Jacobs, Icelandics and Shetlands. The stock cost him a lot and didn’t give much return. I said “well you might do better stocking your pastures with some thickset Southdowns,” at the time I was weaning a lot of 100lb wether lambs. He added a few down breeds for a lot cheaper and suddenly started doing better for himself selling in the specialty meat trade to restaurants and local butcher shops. Some of these purebred breeds need help and some can really help the small farmer.
So what are some of what you consider heritage breeds? Here are a few of mine, not an exhaustive list by any means.
Horses: Morgan, Hackney, Standardbred, Clydesdale, Percheron
Cattle: Shorthorn, Hereford, Guernsey, Brown Swiss
Sheep: Southdown, Oxford, Columbia, Montadale, Border Leicester
Swine: Berkshire, Tamworth, Yorkshire, Duroc