What is Heritage Breed Livestock: 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.
Heritage is largely a term of art and not science, but The 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, turkeys, cattle, and swine.
My analogy for Heritage and conventional breeds is that of a willow and oak tree. Conventional breeds are similar to the willow tree in that they grow quickly but the quality of the product is to be desired, whereas Heritage breeds grow much slower like an oak tree but the meat is of a higher quality. Conventional breeds can reach their optimum weight in a matter of 2 to three months, where Heritage breeds can take a year or more to reach their optimum weight.
American Guinea Hog: American Guinea Hogs (AGH) are small pigs compared to modern breeds; they weigh less than 200 pounds and will yield 50 to 100 pounds of meat and fat. They are good as free-range foragers but are also at home in a farmyard and are reasonably even-tempered. The AGH is not used for commercial farming because of its small size and high lard content. There are two types of Guinea hog in North America, small-boned and large-boned Guinea hogs, the latter having longer legs. Thomas Jefferson has been credited with importing the AGH around 1804.
Heritage Breed Turkeys: Currently, we have Narragansett and Black Spanish Turkeys. These beautiful birds descends from a cross between the Eastern Wild Turkey and domestic turkeys brought to this country by European colonists. The Narragansett is named for the Narragansett Bay of Rhode Island. They are a rare, multicolored, medium-sized breed with hens weighing up to 17 lbs. and toms up to 30 lbs.it’s a naturally mating bird with a slow growth rate that spends most of its long life outdoors. (By contrast, industrially raised turkeys live in cages, are bred to grow quickly, and can reproduce only through artificial insemination.) In terms of flavor, a heritage bird is worlds away from the dry, tasteless turkeys most of us have grown up eating on Thanksgiving. Unlike other turkeys, heritage birds live long enough to develop a layer of fat beneath the skin, which imparts a rich flavor to the meat.
Cornish Chicken/ Cornish Game Hen: The Cornish Chicken and Game Hen are a great alternative mean for small Thanksgiving meals, or for any occasion. The Cornish Chicken will reach a dressed weight of 8-9 lbs. at 12 weeks and the Cornish Game Hen will reach a dressed weight of 2 to 2-1/2 lbs. making them a mouth-watering sight on the kitchen table. If this is what you’re looking for, give our Cornish Roaster a try, we’re sure you will be happy.