Our Rare Breeds - Livestock and Poultry

As a working farm, we are surrounded by livestock and poultry ("critters"). Many of ours, however, are a little different....

 

Most of our animals represent species listed as "critically endangered" by The Livestock Conservancy.  As such, Willow Pond Farmstead remains one of the very few places on earth where you can see some of these once-common "heritage" animals.

 

So how could a farm animal become extinct (or near-extinct)? The answer is surprisingly simple: when farmers cease raising a breed, the breed vanishes. You see, man's involvement is essential to the survival of every domesticated breed, so if modern farmers don't raise them the breed disappears.

 

And why would farmers stop raising an established livestock breed? Answer: Farmers will stop raising a breed when its characteristics are either (1) no longer necessary (e.g., oxen) or (2) are superceded by superior qualities in another breed. In short, today's marketplace dictates extinction for many farm animals our parents and grandparents knew.

Photos (to begin slideshow, please click the bottom-right "Play" icon)

Fainting Goats

Among our endangered breeds critters are a few fainting goats.

 

A fainting goat, sometimes also known as a myotonic or Tennessee stiff legged goat, is a rare and endangered domestic goat whose muscles momentarilly freeze when the goat is startled. Though painless, this generally results in the animal collapsing on its side. The characteristic is caused by an hereditary genetic disorder, myotonia congenita, and is the continuing subject of a series of human neurologic disorder studies.

 

These just need to be seen in action. (No, this isn't our film but....) Fainting goats.