A Heritage Breed Vision
Heritage breed livestock are rare breeds of animals once commonly found on farms, but are now in danger of extinction. The Livestock Conservancy has prioritized livestock on a list ranging from Critical to Recovering. In an effort to support the conservation of these rare breeds of animals, Stony Kill Farm has chosen heritage animals that tell the historical story of the farm and support the education and viability of these animals.
Today our cow herd consists of Hereford and Angus cattle. Neither of these beef breeds are heritage animals but rather represent the more common breeds of cattle representative of today’s beef industry. Plans are underway to transition the herd to include milking Devon cattle. Listed as Critical on the Livestock Conservancy list, there are only 500 registered cattle. Devon cattle were brought to America by the pilgrims and used for milk production, meat and as oxen to plow fields. This tri-purpose cow was once very common in the Hudson Valley and will soon join the Stony Kill herd.
Today, you can enjoy a breeding flock of Tunis sheep at Stony Kill Farm. Tunis are considered an American developed breed, a gift to George Washington from the Bey of Tunis in Africa in the late 1700s. This dual purpose breed providing both meat and wool is listed on the Livestock Conservancy’s Watch List. This breed of sheep has a distinguishing red face and gradually over time was developed into a uniquely American breed of sheep by the late 18th and early 19th century. It is also considered the oldest American breed.
The Stony Kill flock of chickens now contains Dominique chickens. Dominiques were once commonplace on farms in the 1800s. Overtime they fell out of favor for other breeds including Plymouth Rocks. By the 1970s there were only 4 known flocks remaining. Their tightly arranged plumage and low profile of the rose comb make them resistant to frost bite and well suited to colder climates. They are the foundation stock to Plymouth Rock. Today Dominiques are listed on the Livestock Conservancy Watch List. Other heritage breeds such as Java’s will join the flock in the near future.
Come visit the Stony Kill livestock every weekend at our open barn or learn more about them through our education programs. When not working educating people the livestock enjoy grazing the 18 acres of green pasture.