HERITAGE BREED CONSERVATION
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.
The Arapawa goat is a breed of domestic goat whose ancestors arrived with European explorers or colonists in New Zealand, possibly as early as the 1600’s. The breed was originally only found on the rugged island of Arapawa, which is situated at the top of the South Island of New Zealand. The origin of the goat population on this island has often been associated with the expeditions of Captain James Cook. Historical records indicate that goats were released by Cook on the island in 1777. According to local lore the present goats are directly descended from those original goats brought by the British explorers. The goats are thought to be descended from “Old English,” a common goat breed in Britain in the 18th century. This breed is a likely candidate to have been brought by British colonists as it is an all-purpose family goat suitable to meet the challenges of founding new colonies.
The Arapawa goat population thrived on the island without major threat for over 200 years, until the 1970s. At that time, the New Zealand Forest Service came to the conclusion that the goats were too damaging to the native forest and therefore had to be removed. In reaction to the news, Arapawa Island residents Betty and Walt Rowe stepped in with friends and volunteers and created a sanctuary in 1987. They began conservation work with 40 goats returned to domestication. It is largely through their efforts that the breed gained international attention and survives today. The Arapawa goat remains one of the rarest breeds. As of 2011 there are approximately 150-200 domesticated goats in the United States, and this is thought to represent about half of the global population. Dedicated breeders are also working with the breed in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Documenting the origins of the herd of goats released on Arapawa Island almost 250 years ago is important in understanding the genetic resource represented in the goats. In 2007 The Livestock Conservancy, through its Technical Advisor Dr. Phil Sponenberg, teamed up with the University of Cordoba and several Arapawa goat breeders to perform DNA analysis of the breed. The study found that the Arapawa goats are clearly distinct from other breeds. They are not Spanish as some scientists speculated, and the Old English connection may yet prove true. What is certain is that the hardiness and self-sustaining abilities of the goats make them a unique genetic resource.
Arapawas are considered medium-sized goats, with does weighing from 60-80 pound and bucks weighing up to 125 pounds. They have long hair and are predominantly black, brown, and white in varying combinations with many having badger stripes on their faces. Does typically give birth to twins with little to no birthing difficulties and possess excellent mothering skills from the start. The Arapawa is a non-aggressive breed, which, if handled early in life, makes an excellent family goat.
The pig is one of the oldest established animals in husbandry, having been domesticated some 8,000 years ago in Asia, from where it was brought to Europe. The Mangalitsa pig, (Mangalitza in German & Mangalica in Hungarian) is one of the oldest European breeds. Breeding started started in the 1830s in the Austro-Hungarian Empire after Archduke Joseph Anton Johann received some Sumadija pigs from a Serbian prince, and crossed them with Bakony and Szalonta pigs. The resulting Mangalitsa “curly-hair hog” was initially reserved for the Habsburg Royalty, but became so popular because of its great taste that by the end of the 19th century it was the main breed in Europe.
Many of the pigs were herded from Burgenland (part of Hungary until 1921 – now an Austrian province) to the slaughter houses in Vienna, just like the cattle were herded to the slaughter houses in the Midwest. Fattened to 250-300 kg (550 to 650 lbs), most of the meat was used for speck and lard, but the now famous “Stelze” (pork shank) was introduced at that time as well.
But with changing conditions in animal husbandry after World War II, when tastes changed in Western Europe, and Hungarian Agriculture was collectivised, the breed rapidly declined and was replaced with leaner and more rapidly growing breeds. By the end of the 1970s Mangalitsa pigs in Austria could only be found in National Parks and Zoos, and less than 200 breeding sows remained in Hungary.
The breed did not get officially recognized until 1927.
ROYAL PALM TURKEY
Royal Palm turkeys are beautiful birds with white and black feathers, and are largely marketed as ornamental birds. Their history has been traced back to the farm of turkey breeder Enoch Carson who lived in Lake Worth, Florida. If you’re wondering why they’re called Royal Palm turkeys, they’re possibly named after the town of Royal Palm Beach, Florida, which is right next door to Lake Worth.
Mr. Carson began developing the breed in the 1920s using crosses between several turkey breeds, including the Black, Narragansett, and Bronze as well as with wild turkeys. Royal Palm turkeys became a recognized breed by the American Poultry Association in 1971, decades after its inception, largely because it took so many years to stabilize the breed’s unique coloring. Although the coloring will occur accidentally in crosses, establishing a predictable lineage took quite a while.
This breed is perfect for the small sustainable homestead. Toms reach market weight between 16 and 22 lbs, though this is not huge in terms of turkey, this is the perfect size for a family. They are also very good foragers, and eat plenty of insects.
WE RAISE LIVESTOCK FOR CONSERVATION AND CONSUMPTION
If you know us, you will know that Project: Homestead is a new project and we are currently in the growing stages of careful livestock selection for not only conservation but consumption and to educate sustainable agriculture. Our stock are young, especially when it comes to the endangered breeds. Our choice of breeds are based off The Livestock Conservancy's conservation priority list (CPL). From that list we determine which breeds would work in harmony with a small sustainable homestead.