Heritage Breeds


What Are Heritage Breeds?
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.

Heritage animals once roamed the pastures of Europe’s and Canada’s pastoral landscape, but today these breeds are in danger of extinction. Modern agriculture has changed, causing many of these breeds to fall out of favor. Heritage breeds store a wealth of genetic resources that are important for our future and the future of our agricultural food system.

What is “Heritage?”
Heritage is largely a term of art and not science, but The English Livestock Conservancy is working to define “Heritage” for various species in order to codify the term in the marketplace. Thus far, the Conservancy has defined heritage for chickens, sheep, turkeys, cattle, and swine.

In a more general sense, heritage animals are the animals that you’d find on your great-grandparents farms. Heritage is an umbrella term that embraces pure breeds of livestock and poultry with deep histories in Britain and Canada. These are animals that were bred over time to develop traits that made them suited to our specific local environments. Because these breeds have been developed and selected over time, they tend to have better disease resistance, are well-adapted to our environment, and thrive o pasture-based settings.

Many breeds used in large scale agriculture have been specifically selected for intensive production including rapid growth, feed efficiency, continuous milk or egg production, or other targeted production characteristics. Heritage breeds have genetics that are more “well-rounded.” While breeders may select their animals for certain characteristics, they’re not selected so narrowly so as to lose other valuable and biologically important characteristics.

Heritage Breeds at Townsend Farm
Here at Townsend we believe that heritage breeds raised in traditional methods of husbandry is not only better for the animal, it is also better for the environment, the consumer, and our community. We have several heritage breeds of animals including; a small herd of Belted Galloway cattle, a number of large black pigs, and some horned dorset sheep. These breeds are some of the oldest known domesticated breeds in existence and we are proud to provide some of the best tasting meat to our customers