News

Heritage Breed Livestock in CVNP

11-Jan-2017

 

Several of the Countryside Initiative Farms here in Cuyahoga Valley National Park raise livestock. Livestock are animals raised for agricultural uses like meat, fiber and labor.

Many of these farms raise Heritage Breed livestock. Heritage Breeds represent historic breeds that were popular in the past for having desirable qualities during that era. Some were raised for things like fiber quality, meat marbling, weather hardiness and broodiness. There were many breeds - bred for many reasons. Livestock needs in modern time have changed so much that many of these historic breeds were nearly lost, replaced by a very small number of new breeds that focus more on modern production management, logistics and market demands. Keeping heritage bloodlines going helps give consumers and farmers choices, and helps prevent the loss of vitally important food diversity.

A really good example is a "broody hen". Broody is a term to describe a hen whose natural behavior is to lay eggs and sit on them with the goal of hatching baby chicks - simple and natural enough right? This natural instinct means this hen is obsessed. She won't budge from the eggs but for very short periods in the day to quickly eat and drink then back to her clutch. Well, in modern production, on any farm that sells eggs, a broody hen can really interfere with egg gathering, laying and therefore, selling. Broody hens have been known to peck viciously at weary egg gatherers, steal eggs from other hens, and slow production. Modern hens, even in common old fashion breeds like Rhode Island Reds have had their broody tendencies bred out of them. This means laying an egg is simply a daily task, done quickly so the happy hen can move on to her dust bath, scratching for grubs and running from the roosters. Why would anyone want a broody hen then? Several reasons. First, the genetics that make the hen broody also make her a protective mother with her young chicks. This is great for pastured-raised poultry to protect the chicks from predators. Hatching chicks the natural way (with a hen) is one way to keep replenishing your flock without the expense and labor of managing an incubator, or having to purchase them retail. Another reason is just because many of these breeds have other wonderful qualities that should be preserved and passed on. 

You can learn more about Heritage Breed Livestock here.

Different livestock breeds that you may see while visiting CVNP:
Tamworth and Blue Butt Hogs

Bourbon Red and Bronze Breasted Turkey

Orpington and Buckeye Chickens

 

there are more, so ask your farmer!

Countryside Initiative Livestock Farms include:

Brunty Farms
Goatfeathers Point Farm
Spice Acres
The Spicy Lamb Farm
Trapp Family Farm