Heritage animals are old, historic, non-commercial breeds of animals utilized by our ancestors before the advent of antibiotics, commercial feedlots and chemical wormers. Some were dropped off in the New World over 500 years ago so explorers had a trustworthy source of food. They were left to fend for themselves in the wild while explorers sailed to and from the New World and, subsequently, became a landrace animal meaning their natural surroundings shaped their genetics through survival of the fittest. They are hard-wired for disease and pest resistance, hardiness, ability to forage a wide variety of foods, possess excellent mothering skills, have uncomplicated births and not only survive but thrive in what modern society would term sub-optimal conditions.
Commercial farm animals, by contrast, have been genetically modified by man mainly for growth rates and size which has, subsequently, bred out many of their natural genetic potentials and abilities. Without fossil fuel grown, produced and shipped grains, antibiotics, chemical wormers and veterinarians the commercial animals of the world would surely perish quite rapidly causing quite a worldwide calamity as this is currently the greater part of the world’s meat source. The heritage animal, however, would survive and thrive with minimal human inputs. They are a time capsule of vital genetic gold and many are precariously close to extinction.
The creatures on the farm include Dutch Hookbill Ducks, White Faced Black Spanish Chickens, Anatolian Shepherd Livestock Guardian Dogs, Ancient White Park Cattle, Oberhasli Goats and Wiltshire Horned Sheep. While the farm is still in its growing stages, we hope to be able to provide more and more breeding stock so that others can promote these storied and stalwart animals and save their genetic importance from peril.
We practice a ranching-style, free-range system of farming on remineralized fields with a multi-species herd promoting natural and symbiotic animal habits and utilize methods which surpass USDA organic standards with zero** chemical and minimal human inputs.
Our multi-species, ranching style of farming allows for greater plant utilization and helps maintain a better ecological balance among plant species. In a natural setting several species of animals utilize various plants within an ecosystem because they have different dietary preferences and grazing behaviors. This complementary grazing is healthiest for the land and forages keeping the fields in a state of homeostasis.
Because heritage animals prefer a much wider variety of forages than commercial animals, there are very few weeds or forbs which grow out of control in our fields. Multi-species grazing the same area greatly minimize species-specific parasites as one species will ingest the parasites of another species thereby killing those parasites. By providing minimal human inputs, which would include allowing pastures to grow as nature intended, animals graze on taller forages which are well above ground level where parasites thrive.
The symbiosis between species within our polyherd is a wonderful sight. Chickens on the backs of sleeping cows nourishing themselves with flies and other pests, goats congregating with horned semi-feral cattle for predator protection, chickens and geese systematically cleaning manure deposits and ducks hunting the day away catching a plethora of insects after the four-legged animals create a disturbance with their gaits. The resting cows even provide entertainment for our goat kids by allowing them to play “king of the mountain” on their backs.
We strive for a semi closed loop system whereby our ruminant animals provide food for our non-ruminant animals and non-ruminants provide for other non-ruminant animals. Chickens eat goat whey leftover from making chevre, ducks eat the buttermilk produced from making cow butter, pigs eat our excess eggs and so on. The sun and rain nurture the grass, the grass nurtures the ruminants, the ruminants nurture the non-ruminants and they all nurture the grass with their manure making our outside inputs minimal.
We provide free choice naturally occurring minerals (the animals instinctively know which minerals are needed at what times in what amounts), dried kelp (a natural source of multi-minerals which are easily assimilated in the body) and mineralized salt which all supplement what the soil does not naturally provide as well as intermittent herbs, garlic, pumpkin seeds, diatomaceous earth and apple cider vinegar to promote natural parasite resistance and a small amount of Non-GMO and Certified Pesticide/Herbicide free grains for the non-ruminants.
** exception for rare, life-threatening instances