Heritage Livestock Breeds

New Livestock in 2013!

We will be starting our herd of Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats in May 2013! Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats are thought to be descended from West African Dwarf goats. Just how these West African Goats came to North American soil is a mystery.

One theory is that as big cats from Africa were shipped to zoos in the 1900’s, goats were loaded on to the vessels as a food source for the cats while in transit – yeesh. The goats that weren’t consumed went on to the zoos.  The breed took off from there, and now these goats are renowned for the high butterfat content in their milk, and their docile nature. Also – they’re seriously adorable.

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A brief history of Small Spade’s heritage breeds:

Here at Small Spade, we raise 2 breeds of heritage chickens; Ameraucanas and Buff Chanteclers. Ameraucanas were bred by combining the native South American Araucana chicken with Old World varieties, some of which date back to the 1500’s.

Ameraucanas have a characteristic “muff” and “beard” – i.e they have poufy cheeks! This helps to insulate their faces from the cold, which means they are a cold-hardy bird. They lay blue or green eggs.

The Chantecler was developed in 1907 at the Abbey of Notre-Dame du Lac in Oka, Québec. It is extremely cold-resistant, due to its small comb, and it lays brown eggs. The Chantecler is one of only two breeds of poultry from Canada, and the only one known to have been created by a member of a monastic order!

The breed is listed as Critical by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy – these birds deserve to be preserved, they are a very friendly and intelligent breed of chicken. Also – Québecers; represent!

What are Heritage Livestock Breeds?

Heritage breeds are traditional livestock breeds that were raised by farmers in the past, before the drastic reduction of breed variety caused by the rise of industrial agriculture. Within the past 15 years, 190 breeds of farm animals have gone extinct worldwide, and there are currently 1,500 others at risk of becoming extinct. In the past five years alone, at least 60 breeds of cattle, goats, pigs, horses and poultry have become extinct.

What’s so great about Heritage Livestock?

Heritage animals were bred over time to develop traits that made them particularly well-adapted to local environmental conditions. Breeds used in industrial agriculture are bred to produce lots of milk or eggs, gain weight quickly, or yield particular types of meat within confined facilities. Heritage breeds are generally better adapted to withstand disease, and their bodies are better suited to living on pasture. They are well-suited to sustainable farms since they are able to thrive without the temperature-controlled buildings and constant doses of antibiotics administered to the commercial breeds raised on factory farms.

Why should we bother raising Heritage Breeds?

These livestock breeds serve as an important genetic resource, and when heritage breeds become extinct, their unique genes are lost forever and can’t be used to breed new traits into existing livestock breeds. Therefore, by raising heritage livestock breeds, sustainable farmers not only maintain variety within our livestock populations, they also help to preserve valuable traits within the species so that future breeds can endure harsh conditions.