Heritage Livestock Breeds
What are Heritage livestock breeds and why are they important?
Heritage livestock breeds are old breeds that were created before the onset of industrial agriculture. Industrialization of agriculture has greatly reduced the number of variety of livestock breeds that remain today. Since 1993, at least 190 different breeds of farm animals have gone extinct. Since 2003 alone, at least 60 breeds of cattle, goats, poultry, horses and pigs have become extinct.
Today there are only a few main breeds that dominate the livestock industries:
· There are only 5 main breeds of dairy cows, with 85% of the market being Holsteins
· 60% of the beef cattle are Angus, Hereford or Simmential breeds
· Only 3 breeds make up the 75% of the hog industry
· Over 60 percent of the sheep come from only four breeds, and 40 percent are Suffolk-breed sheep
Today, the agricultural industry breeds animals for quick production in confined spaces, while Heritage breeds were bred slowly over time and are favored for their hardiness. Heritage breeds are generally better adapted to withstand disease and survive in harsh environmental conditions, and their bodies are better suited for living on pasture lands. It is important to maintain Heritage breeds because of their genetic variety. Genetic variety produces healthier, more adaptive animal populations.
Temple Hall Farm Regional Park's Mission
"The purpose of Temple Hall Farm Regional Park is to preserve the agricultural, cultural and natural resources of the 286-acre farm and to provide an educational resource that explores farming in Loudoun County for the people of Northern Virginia." As such, preserving heritage livestock breeds fits perfectly with our mission.