Heritage breeds are historically relevant animals with traits that contribute to biodiversity in livestock & poultry. They contribute to regional food security & regional sustainability. They provide a distinctive, flavorful eating experience. Authentic heritage breeds are rare and in danger of going extinct.
Products from Heritage breeds are not produced in large quantities because they are slow growing, true Slow Foods that are expensive to grow. Heritage breed meat and eggs lack the uniformity in shape, texture and size needed to produce consistent plates of the same food day in and day out for food establishments, so they are unlikely to be found in restaurants or grocery stores. They are most often found in specialty markets or from small independent farms.
Authentic Heritage Breeds have retained the ability to naturally reproduce, have strong immune systems, have the ability to thrive on pasture, have genetic diversity (contributes to biodiversity), have maternal and survival instincts, have intelligence, have unique quality meat/eggs/fiber/feathers and, in some cases, have trainability. They were created to solve a historical agricultural problem, production need or developed in a specific region. They are NOT mass produced commodities.
Authentic heritage poultry are capable of naturally reproduction while the parent stock of industrial poultry are proprietary corporate assets who must be bought from the corporate breeder or associated hatchery and need special feed and treatment to reproduce. Industrial turkeys are ALL artificially inseminated!
Industrial livestock and poultry are mass produced, tolerate close confinement, are consistent in shape, size and texture, are fast growing and able to be harvested at a very young age. They have little genetic diversity and the ownership has been concentrated into few corporate entities worldwide. Industrial parent stock has been intentionally chosen to produce offspring with the maximum uniform production in the least amount of space with the least input - period.
Authentic heritage breedshaveunique, distinctive, and special historically relevant qualitieswhile, sadly, industrial livestock and poultry have become quantities of a "protein" or "commodity".
YOU directly contribute to the conservation of these rare breeds by buying their meat/eggs/fiber/feathers and by providing a market for the products they provide. The viable market helps breed stewards make sure only the highest quality individuals carry on their valuable genetic traits into the future. If you are in the Pittsburgh area, Join our Online Farm Market email list.
Click here to learn more from the slides in our presentation at the 2018 Farm to Table Pittsburgh convention (big file).
Old Time Farm's American Milking Devon Cattle, Chantecler Chickens and Bronze Turkeys are on the Slow Food "Ark of Taste"
The American Milking Devon Cattle and Bronze Turkeys are on the American Ark of Taste while our Chantecler Chicken is on the Canadian Ark of Taste (they originated in Canada).
"It is essential to interpret and apply the criteria with regard to the specific local situation of the product, always respecting the cultural, social, geographical, economic and political differences of the communities who preserve the products. "
Q. What are authentic heritage livestock & poultry?
A. Historically relevant purebred animals that are genetic "seed banks" for rare and endangered livestock & poultry. "Heritage animals are the animals that you’d find on your great-grandparents farms. Heritage is an umbrella term that embraces pure breeds of livestock and poultry with deep histories in the United States. These are animals that were bred over time to develop traits that made them suited to specific local environments. Because these breeds have been developed and selected over time, they tend to have better disease resistance, are well-adapted to their environments, and thrive in pasture-based settings." ~ Livestock Conservancy
Q. Why buy authentic old-fashioned heritage?
A. You are an active participant in shaping the future of agriculture by preserving biodiversity and strengthening the regional sustainability of your local food shed.
Regional Food Security - these old-fashioned livestock & poultry can be reproduced locally and become regionally adapted to local climate, foods, and disease.
You help preserve biodiversity in poultry and livestock genetics for the future by supporting these old fashioned purebreds - they are living genetic "seed banks".
Taste the delicious intensity and range of flavors that result from slow growth that graced the plates of yesteryear.
The old-fashioned heritage livestock & poultry are capable of being be harvested at a variety of ages which broadens the range of flavors and textures you can experience on your plate. The older the animal at harvest, the more intense the flavor of the meat but the texture increases as well resulting in each harvest age providing a unique eating experience.
For the ethical eater, not all animals need to go to the plate - the heritage breeds are capable of living "normal" lives, reproducing naturally and are unlikely to out-produce what their bodies are physically capable of supporting. Conservation is the key to the contemporary relevance of heritage breeds - they are in need of conservation because they are in danger of going extinct. We keep only the highest quality individuals to produce future generations while the remainder are sold to homesteads/farmsteads or harvested to grace your table.
You support your local farmer's efforts to strengthen local food shed sustainability by reproducing purebred livestock & poultry on farm & farms are regional assets also in need of conservation.
Q: How do I know I am buying authentic heritage poultry or livestock?
A: There are rules that govern the usage of the word "heritage" in marketing. "Heritage" is a "breed claim" - ask the name of the breed of livestock or poultry. The historical relevance of the breed is what matters - it has to have a relevant "heritage" to be labeled "heritage"
If the animal is not registered or eligible for a breed registry, it is unlikely that it can be labeled "heritage".
(TheFood Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) is the government arm that monitors the usage of terms on labels and in marketing which states that "heritage" is a "breed claim" that must have documentation to back it up.
Registration certificates for Old Time Farm's American Milking Devon Cattle breeding herd meets the FSIS documentation requirements.
Old Time Farm's Partridge Chantecler chicken and Standard Bronze Turkey breeding flocks are certified by the American Poultry Association as being "standard-bred" which meets the FSIS documentation requirements for "heritage". Poultry is a little different as there are no breed registries keeping records of pedigrees and purity so a trained poultry judge must look at the birds and determine that they meet the certification standards set forth by the American Poultry Association to make the breed claim or qualify as being "standard-bred". More information about the certification program can be found here.
According to the FSIS, to make a "breed claim" on a label: "Breed claims refer to the declaration of a specific breed of livestock or poultry. Examples of this type of claim: Angus, Wagyu (American Kobe), Hereford, Berkshire, Duroc, Muscovy, Silkie, and heritage poultry, pork or beef breeds." Documentation needed:
A signed and dated document that substantiates the breed claim, e.g., an Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) G Schedule or a certificate from a breed organization
A written description of the product tracing and segregation mechanism from time of slaughter or further processing through packaging and wholesale or retail distribution;
A written description for the identification, control, and segregation of non-conforming animals/product; and
Documentation to support the breed by phenotype (for example, hide color) or genotype (traceable to one registered parent or two registered grandparents with a breed association)
APA Standard Breed Heritage Chicken must be from parent and grandparent stock of breeds recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) prior to the mid-20th century; whose genetic line can be traced back multiple generations; and with traits that meet the APA Standard of Perfection guidelines for the breed. Heritage Chicken must be produced and sired by an APA Standard breed. Heritage eggs must be laid by an APA Standard breed.
Naturally mating Heritage Chicken must be reproduced and genetically maintained through natural mating. Chickens marketed as Heritage must be the result of naturally mating pairs of both grandparent and parent stock.
Long, productive outdoor lifespan Heritage Chicken must have the genetic ability to live a long, vigorous life and thrive in the rigors of pasture-based, outdoor production systems. Breeding hens should be productive for 5-7 years and roosters for 3-5 years.
Slow growth rate Heritage Chicken must have a moderate to slow rate of growth, reaching appropriate market weight for the breed in no less than 16 weeks. This gives the chicken time to develop strong skeletal structure and healthy organs prior to building muscle mass.
Chickens marketed as Heritage must include the variety and breed name on the label.
Terms like “heirloom,” “antique,” “old-fashioned,” and “old timey” imply Heritage and are understood to be synonymous with the definition provided here.
Abbreviated Definition: A Heritage Egg can only be produced by an American Poultry Association Standard breed. A Heritage Chicken is hatched from a heritage egg sired by an American Poultry Association Standard breed established prior to the mid-20th century, is slow growing, naturally mated with a long productive outdoor life.
Why Old Time Farm?
Selective breeding of heritage poultry and livestock for:
Ability to thrive in our northeastern climate
Vigor, soundness, correctness of structure, hardiness and health
Classic production traits
Breed characteristics and to breed standard
Long productive life
Resistance to disease and parasites
Poultry and cattle to meet the definition of Heritage as defined by the Livestock Conservancy and the FSIS.
Our focus is on livestock in need of conservation!
Thank You!! Your purchase helps conserve rare breeds!