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.
In 2020 the Foundation introduced the historic American Milking Devon cows to the farm. They are a rare and ancient breed of cattle that date back to Devonshire, England. Devon cattle were brought to America by the pilgrims and were once very common in New England and the Hudson Valley. Modern cows are either raised as beef or dairy. Milking Devons retain their original tri-purpose qualities: producing milk; beef production; and utilization as beasts of burden (oxen). Listed as critically endangered and at risk of vanishing forever by the Livestock Conservancy, there are between 1,200 and 1,500 registered cattle according to the American Milking Devon Cattle Association. The Foundation is happy to re-introduce this heritage breed to Dutchess County.
The Foundation has started an artificial breeding program to increase our herd over time and advocate for the awareness of rare breeds of livestock. Artificial breeding allows us to manage for the rare genetics of this cattle breed.
Meet our starter herd of American Milking Devons.
Juniper arrived at the farm on February 9th 2020 and is from Arden, NY. She is the oldest of the three cows and was born April 10th, 2016.
Jasmine is from Mt. Joy Pennsylvania and was born September 2nd, 2018.
Violet “Red” is from a farm in Vermont and arrived at Stony Kill on October 25th, 2020. She is the youngest and was born April 25th, 2020.
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 developed into a uniquely American breed of by the late 18th and early 19th century. It is also considered the oldest American breed.
Dominiques: The Stony Kill flock now contains Dominique chickens. Dominiques were once commonplace on farms in the 1800s. Over time 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.
Crevecoeurs: Crevecoeurs are a striking heritage breed adorned with a beautiful crest of feathers and a unique V comb atop their heads. Originating in Normandy France, this dual purpose breed is one of the oldest French breeds recorded. The breed made its way to the United States in 1852, and documents place a flock of these birds in Westchester County shortly after. Despite being a hearty and productive dual purpose fowl, this breed fell out of favor and is now listed as critically endangered on the Livestock Conservancy Watch List. Stony Kill Foundation is actively working to breed these beautiful birds back to their original glory.
Javas: Java chickens, once commonplace, became a rare breed of chicken in favor of more modern breeds. They come in various colors such as white, black and auburn. The auburn coloration of Javas was the parent breed for the more common Rhode Island Red. In the 1870’s the auburn Java disappeared and was presumed extinct until 120 years later, during a massive hatching program promoted by Garfield Farms to save black javas from extinction. On September 23rd, 2003 an auburn Java hen hatched from Garfield’s Farm’s eggs at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. A few months later, in March of 2004 a rooster hatched at Garfield Farms and the auburn color had returned. After nine years of mass hatchings, the auburn java had returned in large enough numbers for a sustainable breeding population. Still a rare breed, Javas are on the Livestock Conservancy Watch List and the auburn Java coloration is still not recognized by the American Poultry Association. Stony Kill Farm has a small breeding flock of these historic auburn javas.
The Stony Kill Foundation is a member of:
The American Milking Devon Cattle Association, https://www.milkingdevons.org
The Livestock Conservancy, https://www.livestockconservancy.org
National Tunis Sheep Registry, https://www.countrylovin.com/NTSRI/.