Farm Animals

Many of the animals at the Heritage Farm exhibit in the Botanic Garden are listed with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.  This organization is working to protect historic livestock breeds and maintain genetic diversity. Even farm animals need a little help!  Read about the conservation ups and downs faced by a few of breeds on the farm.

PERCHERON HORSESPercheron Horses

  • The Percheron breed first appeared in the US in 1838.  The horse was a fast favorite among US farmers and those in the transport business.
  • In the last half of the 19th century, thousands of Percherons were imported into the US.
  • Sadly, the invention of the tractor had dire effects on the breed's populations--by 1954 only 85 head were registered globally.
  • Due to careful breeding efforts, the dedication of a few individuals and help from Amish farmers, the Percheron breed made a dramatic recovery.  In just thirty years, the number of registered Percherons jumped to 1,000 head.
  • Today there are over 3,000 registered Percherons.
  • American Livestock Breeds Conservancy Listing: RECOVERING

 AMERICAN MILKING SHORTHORN CATTLEMilking Shorthorn Calf

  • Milking Shorthorn cattle first appeared in the US in the late 1700's.  The breed spread rapidly and was very popular among settlers.
  • The Milking Shorthorn could not compete with the quantity of milk produced by the Holstein, and the breed lost favor.
  • Pure Milking Shorthorn strains are a conservation priority, fewer than 200 animals are registered annually in the US.
  • American Livestock Breeds Conservancy Listing: CRITICAL

 NAVAJO CHURRO SHEEPNavajo Churro Sheep

  • During the 16th century, Spanish explorers brought a population of Spanish sheep into the Southwest.  Those early sheep were the basis of our modern Navajo Churro Sheep.
  • The sheep were popular among the indigenous populations, and in the early 1800's, a single flock could have 20,000 head. 
  • Starting in the 1860's and leading into the 1930's, government projects severely reduced the number of Churro Sheep.
  • In the early 1970's there were fewer than 450 Churro Sheep in the US.
  • A few recovery programs were put into place between 1977 and 1986, and today there are over 8,500 Navajo Churro Sheep. 
  • American Livestock Breeds Conservancy Listing: THREATENED

 DOMINIQUE CHICKENS Dominique Chicken

  • The Dominique Chicken is considered America's first chicken breed.  In the early 1820's, they could be found on most American farms.
  • The breed's populations started to drastically decrease with the industrialization of poultry. 
  • By 1970, only four flocks remained (about 500 birds).  Through careful breeding efforts from 1983 to 2007, the breeds numbers increased steadily.
  • American Livestock Breeds Conservancy Listing:  WATCH

Learn More

American Livestock Breeds Conservancy

References

The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy

American Milking Shorthorn Society

The Percheron Horse Association of America