We chose unique breeds that matched our desires for animals that are hardy, thrive on grass, and provide high-quality products. 

 

Large Black Hogs

If you had a large, black pig, what name would you give it? Well, when the first breed society was developed in England, they decided to keep it simple and called them “Large Black” hogs. They became very popular on small farms because they were docile, easy to keep and got much of their nutrition from the grass and forage provided by nature. Originally there were two distinct breeds in England; one in the east and the other in the west. One had dense, long hair and the other had short, thin hair. Today’s pigs show both traits even within the same litter. The hogs were imported into the United States early in the twentieth century and did well on a number of farms. However, in the 1960s when the pork market started to favor leaner, lighter colored meat the marbled pork of the Large Black fell out of favor. By the 1990′s the Large Black pig had become critically endangered. Today it is listed as “Vulnerable” by England’s Rare Breeds Survival Trust and “Critical” by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

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Miniature Hereford Cattle

The Hereford cattle breed was first started 250 years ago by the Tomkins family in Herefordshire, England. In the late 1960s, Point of Rocks Ranch in Fort Davis, Texas used certified dwarf-free Hereford bloodlines to create the Miniature Hereford cattle we know today. By 1989 breeding stock was available for sale. Point of Rocks Ranch still maintains 11 separate bloodlines to ensure a sufficient genetic base for breeding of the Miniature Hereford. By having this new cattle breed, it is thought that the beef cattle industry will become more profitable for the cow/calf producer in the future.

Characteristics of the Miniature Hereford

Docile and sweet temperament

Easy to work with and care for

Cute body frame

Unique-a real attention getter

A pet, great for kids

Hardy, adapts well to all environments

Very fertile

Excellent feed converters

No special food needed

Less pasture space needed

Easier on pastures and fences

Mature earlier

Tender meat due to muscle cell structure

Larger rib eye area (said to be 1.5 sq. inch per 100 lbs. of body weight)

Less manure

Muscular and short legged

Icelandic Sheep

The Icelandic sheep is one of the world's oldest and purest breeds of sheep. 

Throughout its 1100 years of history, the Icelandic breed has been truly triple-purpose, treasured for its meat, fiber and milk. 

The Icelandic breed is in the North European short-tailed group of sheep, which exhibits a fluke-shaped, naturally short tail. To ensure the continuing purity of the breed, tail docking an Icelandic will disqualify it from being registered in North America. Icelandics are a mid-sized breed with ewes averaging 130-160 pounds, and rams averaging 180-220 pounds. Conformation is generally short legged and stocky. The face and legs are free of wool. The fleece is dual-coated and comes in white as well as a range of browns, grays and blacks. There are both horned and polled strains. Left unshorn for the winter, the breed is very cold hardy.

Ewes are seasonal breeders, most coming into heat in late October. They will continue cycling until spring if not bred. Rams are sexually active year round, and the ram lambs can start breeding at 5-6 months. 

Lambs mature early and ewe lambs commonly lamb at 11-12 months of age. Icelandic ewes are bred as lambs, and many remain productive until age 10 or longer. 

 The lambs are small, twins averaging 6-8 pounds and very lively after an average gestation of 142-144 days, several days shorter than the species average. Lambs are vigorous at birth, a trait that has been shown to carry through in crossbreeding programs. The first lamb born will commonly be up and nursing before the twin arrives. Experienced mothers can have a lamb nursing even before it has gotten to its feet. Lambs are generally strong enough to suck out the wax plug, and are seldom lost to pneumonia.

Due to their large rumens, and the selective pressures of their history in Iceland, the breed is feed efficient. The animals are cold hardy and have a strong, reactive immune system. The sheep have evolved over 1,100 years under difficult farming conditions in Iceland, with a resultant sturdy and efficient constitution.A defining quality of the Icelandic breed is the ability to survive on pasture and browse. Historically, Iceland is not a grain producing country due to the climate, and the breed has survived through its thousand year history on pasture and hay. The ewes are supplemented with fish meal when pregnant and most ewe lambs here in North America are supplemented with some protein especially when pregnant. On good grass, meat lambs can be slaughtered directly off the pasture at 5-6 months of age. The most eye-catching aspect of the breed is the variation of colors and patterns. Genetically, Icelandics have one of two base colors, either black or moorit (brown). They exhibit 5 pattern combinations: white, gray, badgerface, mouflon and solid. Individual sheep may also display various shades of these colors/patterns, ranging from white, cream, light gray, tan, caramel, milk chocolate, silver, dark chocolate, dark gray, to jet black. A spotting gene adds even more combinations with many recognized and named patterns of white markings.