Heritage Breeds – The Importance of Saving Rare Farm Breeds

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Heritage breeds have a strong place in our hearts, and we encourage all homesteaders to visit the Livestock Conservancy’s website to learn about which poultry or livestock breeds need help in maintaining their existence.  Then, in a true homesteading fashion, raise these farm animals in the manner which best meets their needs.

When the decision was made to begin our homesteading journey, we knew immediately that preserving the existence of threatened farm animals would be a goal of ours, to do this we’d been looking into the best home security camera systems on the market to ensure our live-stock is safe.  We have been blessed to be given the opportunity to raise 6 breeds found on the LCL (Livestock Conservancy List), and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

The decline of many heritage breeds began in 1916 when the first self-serve grocery opened, the Piggly Wiggly, in Memphis, Tennessee.  People decided that convenience took priority over raising their own food, and in the drop of an eye the world began to change.  Small livestock and poultry were no longer needed, and the breeds began to become harder to find.

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We are thankful for the opportunity to raise the following breeds on our homestead and hope to continue mentoring others to help restore the population of these farm animals before they become extinct.

  • American Chinchilla rabbit, used for meat, listed as Critical
  • Harlequin rabbit, used for meat, listed as Study
  • Delaware chicken, dual purpose, listed as Watch
  • Java chicken, dual purpose, listed as Watch
  • Welsh Harlequin duck, dual purpose, listed as Watch
  • Blue Slate turkey, meat, listed as Watch

Recently we have had the pleasure in speaking to Kendall of Dalby Farm.  This small family owned farm is working to preserve rare farm animals on a larger scale, and you know this melts my heart.

Dalby Farm isn’t just a preserve, they have opened their farm to the public in hopes to education through tours and special events.  These activities, along with a small shop (which sells soaps, lotions, honey and jellies) generates funds to maintain their farm.

Please take a minute and continue reading, maybe even consider making a donation – either by purchasing from their shop or by supporting their Go-Fund-Me account.  Honestly, this is a great cause and one many homesteaders and farmers should get behind.

 

Dalby Farm & Country Store: Making a difference one child at a time

Since the early 2000’s, Dalby Farm in Scituate, MA has been working on a difficult mission: Educate the community about the importance of preserving rare farm breeds and encourage environmental conservation.

Home to many rare farm breeds ranging from rare poultry to livestock, the family owned and operated farm offers multiple educational programs and events.

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Shane, the rare Arapawa Island Goat. There are only 300 in existence.

 Dalby Farm is a popular spot for school field trips, birthday parties and summer learning programs, children are given positive experiences with plants and animals in hopes that they will carry a new appreciation for nature with them into the world after they leave.

In the face of global warming and other severe environmental threats, it is more important than ever to instill a sense of responsibility in the up and coming generations.  It has become clear that the future of our planet’s wellbeing is not only in our hands, but our children’s as well. Without proper exposure, it is fearful that children will lack the personal context needed to become the advocates the environment and its creatures need so badly.

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They have certainly had success creating a local force of young Dalby Farm Rare Breed Enthusiasts, proving their concept. Many of their current Summer Program counselors began as young participants who kept coming back until they aged out. In just 8 days between two Summer sessions, bonds are made between the children and the animals that more often than not result in enrollment year to year.

Unfortunately, the farm cannot run on passion alone. New England has its fair share of imminent weather, which forces the farm to close for nearly 6 months of the year. Revenue streams are limited during the Fall and Winter months but the price of feed and general upkeep remains consistent and overwhelming. 

To make matters more complicated, key members of the family have struggled with debilitating health conditions that currently hinder their ability to expand. Even so, the family of five pushes on- taking every penny earned from farm offerings and putting it right back into operations. 

Without government funding, a non-profit status or even regular donations, the family needed to create an opportunity for supporters near and far to help keep the farm running. That’s why you should consider a purchase from the Dalby Farm Country Store.

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The store features specialty goat milk soaps and lotions, all natural preserves, jams, honey and condiments, pet treats and cute, country home décor. It is also a great resource for rustic holiday décor, unique gift crates and Jar of the Month club subscriptions. Every purchase helps the family improve educational programs, bring new rare life to the farm and will hopefully allow them to hire help outside of the family one day.  The online store also gives the option to make a donation to the creation of their much needed duck pond for those only interested in sending some financial aid.

Every sale makes a difference and has the power to help a worthy cause grow in effectiveness. Over the coming years, the farm has hopes of creating interactive, educational online content so more people in more places can develop relationships with not only the rare farm breeds living at Dalby Farm, but all animals facing the threat of endangerment and extinction.

In the meantime, our blog is regularly updated several times a week with informative entries on how you can become a better steward of our planet.  You can also follow our journey on Facebook at Dalby Farm and stay up to date with our efforts.

 

As you homestead think about the impact you can make in this journey, and hopefully this will lead you to help restore the existence of many poultry and livestock.  If you’re able to contribute to keeping Dalby Farm going, Justin and I thank you.  If not, be the change on your homestead and make a conscious effort on the livestock you bring to it.

 

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