Have you heard about heritage breeds and wondered what they are or if they are right for your homestead? Heritage livestock is perfect for a homestead and here’s why.
Heritage breeds. Those two words seem to be a little bit buzzwordy, in the homesteading world, but why?
It may seem a little “trendy”, but there is real history there. This trend might be one we just might want to keep around.
What are heritage breeds?
According to Livestock Conservancy
“Heritage breeds are traditional livestock breeds that were raised by our forefathers. These are the breeds of a bygone era before industrial agriculture became a mainstream practice. These breeds were carefully selected and bred over time to develop traits that made them well-adapted to the local environment and they thrived under farming practices and cultural conditions that are very different from those found in modern agriculture.
Traditional, historic breeds retain essential attributes for survival and self-sufficiency – fertility, foraging ability, longevity, maternal instincts, ability to mate naturally, and resistance to diseases and parasites”.
A few examples of heritage breeds are:
- Dutch Belted (cattle)
- Gurnsey (cattle)
- Randal Lineback (cattle)
- Choctaw (pigs)
- Red Wattle (pigs)
- Leicester Longwool (sheep)
- Oberhasli (goats)
There are many more on the list of heritage breeds including chicken, donkeys, ducks, geese, horses, rabbits, and turkeys along with cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats.
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Why are heritage breeds important?
Heritage breeds benefit the Homestead
Why do you want heritage livestock on your homestead?
A homestead in today’s terms is a unique thing, but then again it always has been.
A homestead is striving for self-sufficiency, nothing goes to waste.
On our homestead from kitchen scraps to garden scraps absolutely nothing goes to waste, something eats it!
That is how we try to look at everything, Like Grandma said “waste-not want-not.
That is precisely where heritage livestock can really shine. For example, heritage breed chickens that can be raised for meat and eggs, can easily free-range and forage for much of their food.
Whereas a commercial chicken for laying eggs is far too skinny to be raised for meat, and a commercial meat breed chicken grows so fast is easily prone to injury and death, and can’t be expected to forage or free-range at all.
Heritage Breeds Benefits
- Disease resistance
- Parasite resistance
- Dual/ multipurpose
- Mothering/ survival skills
- Higher fertility rates
- Natural Mating compatibilities
- Foraging skills
- Better suited for thriving in harsher environments (picking a breed suited for those specific challenges)
As you well know, when it comes to homesteading it’s all about self-sufficiency and self-reliability, you can see why a heritage breed fits the bill perfectly.
When you are new to homesteading and trying to find your direction and footing it might be easy to get any animals. However, as you continue on in a homesteading journey you inevitably come across situations where heritage breed livestock would really be a benefit. From disease resistance to mothering skills, better foraging ability, or even just dual-purpose animals, heritage breeds can offer many benefits that the modern breed counterpart might not offer.
Choosing to raise heritage breeds on your homestead can be a very important decision in keeping very important genetics alive and well. Additionally, this seemingly little decision can also help aid your animals and homestead not only surviving but thriving.
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Beth is a mother of 6 living on a handful of acres in an old farmhouse in central Kansas. Beth has a background in the military and health and fitness however her passions come from her homestead life. Beth is an enthusiastic homeschooling mom, avid organic gardener, chicken & goat wrangler, who is obsessed with herbs and natural remedies and maintaining an all-around Do-It-Yourself lifestyle. Beth loves to share all she has learned about and sustainable living. While striving for a healthy, natural life, family-centered life.