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Possible Future Additions

Someday in the future, if we can find enough money and if we have enough time to care for more animals, we would like to add more species. To add some of these (pretty much anything but the birds/fowl) we would need more land, possibly the field that is next door and behind our lot.

Jersey Buff Turkeys

Buff turkeys were once bred in the East Coast (hence the "Jersey" in their name) but fell out of favor in the early 1900s as larger white birds became the standard on factory farms. The Jersey Buffs were functionally extinct by the early twentieth century. Some of the breeds of turkeys that were developed using the Jersey Buff were used in the 1940s to bring the Jersey Buff back into existence. It is challenging to breed birds to a consistent buff color. They can have too yellow or brown coloration and not have the proper "buff" color. Ideally Jersey Buffs should be approximately the same color as a Buff Orpington chicken, although perhaps a bit less golden.

These birds are of medium size, a bit smaller than the Blue Slates listed below. Like other turkey breeds in the medium to small size category, they tend to be good foragers compared with the large white turkeys used in mass market production, and can also breed naturally. Its conservation status according to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is Critical, so there is real need to keep this breed alive.

Photograph courtesy of Phil Sponenburg of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

Blue Slate Turkeys

Blue Slates are not quite as rare as Jersey Buffs, and were never functionally extinct either. The blue color is difficult to breed true in poultry, so young turkeys may be blue, black, gray, ashen, or have blue with black spots, for example. The blue or slate color that is the breed standard is actually due to a gene mutation.

The current breeding stock tends to be small (less than 20 pounds for toms mature weight) as most breeders are currently breeding for the blue slate color rather than size. The breed standard is close to 23 pounds for toms and 14 pounds for hens, which we would try to keep if we ever breed them. This breed can also mate naturally and is a good forager, making it ideal for small family farms who can let their animals free-range for their food. Its conservation status according to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is Watch.

Photograph courtesy of Phil Sponenburg of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

Steinbacher Geese

Steinbacher Geese are a German breed. They were originally bred as fighting birds, but both goose and gander are very calm, and the ganders will only fight with each other (not typically humans) and only if in close contact during breeding season. They are also light layers: a Steinbacher goose is unlikely to produce more than 15 eggs a year, while most other breeds are closer to 30. So, why the interest? Simply put, they are a very rare breed. They are also good meat birds, the primary reason people keep geese outside of pet or show.

There are two color varieties: standard and blue. The blue variety is of special interest, as it breeds 100% true, which is rare in poultry. Most blue fowl (such as the turkeys above) will get 50% blue offspring, 25% splash, and 25% gray or black. Not so for the Steinbachers. Because these are rare and likely quite expensive, these might be a long time in the future for us, but without dreams, life would be boring. Despite their rarity, they are not on ALBC's conservation priority list. They are on the SPPA's list, however.

Although it is difficult to tell in the photograph at right, that is the blue variety. Photograph courtesy of Feathersite.com

Icelandic Sheep

Nathan came upon Icelandic sheep by accident while researching Icelandic chickens. Their wool comes in natural colors (in other words, not every Icelandic sheep is either white or black). They are renowned for their wool, although their primary use in Iceland is for lamb meat. They are one of the best dual-purpose breeds according to many of the breeders of this sheep. We would breed them to keep up genetic diversity and possibly milk them to make sheep's milk cheese, and we would try to sell their wool. Their popularity is growing in this country and they have their own breed registry as well. Being a breed not developed in the US, they are not considered a priority breed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, even though their numbers would likely qualify them as critical status if they were, in fact, an American breed.

Photograph courtesy of the Department of Animal Science at Oklahoma State University.

Gloucestershire Old Spot Pig

Pronounced "Glostersheer", these pigs have the advantage of being on the smaller side, reaching 300 pounds rather than 800-1000 pounds, making them perfect for a small farm. They are very uncommon in this country, with only 200 known breeding pairs in the US and 1000 in Great Britain. They are great on pasture and can thrive on leftover whey, and windfall apples in an orchard, and pressings from apple cider production, for example. In fact, British folklore claims that the large black spots are bruises caused by the apples falling onto them as they foraged the orchard floors for food. Breed standards require that they have at least one black spot on their body. Many consider them intelligent and docile compared to some other breeds. This breed holds the distinction of being the pork favored by the British Royal family. It is considered a "critical" breed in this country.

Photograph courtesy of oldspots.org.uk

Dairy Cattle

On our current farmstead, it is unlikely that we would be able to raise cattle unless we stopped raising goats and kept our poultry numbers small. If we ever are able to upgrade to a larger acreage, we may raise a few dairy cattle for milk and meat. We would either raise a heritage breed such as Randall Lineback or Kerry, both of which are on the same list as the Jersey Buff Turkey as being Critical; or we would raise a miniature breed such as a mini Dexter (a regular-sized Dexter is pictured at right), mini Jersey, or mini Belted Galloway. For more information on miniature breeds of cattle, please click here or go to the International Miniature Cattle Breeds Registry, Inc.

Many people are breeding miniature cattle for those who would like a cow for milk but don't have the acreage to raise a full-size cow. Many standard-sized breeds are now available in miniature form, and some new breeds are available only in miniature (no standard-sized counterpart), such as the Panda Miniature Cattle.

Reindeer

Believe it or not, Nathan has wanted to raise reindeer for almost 15 years. While there aren't hundreds of reindeer farms in the US, there are people who breed them and use them in Christmas displays, parades, and for sleigh rides. We would likely use reindeer for those purposes as well.

Last updated on 1 October 2010.