Heritage livestock are animals and poultry that have been around for a long time. Most of them in fact are descendants of the same animals that were brought over by our ancestors when this country was originally settled. They were hardy breeds that required very little to no handling to live and do well on the farm. They required little to no maintenance or medications to survive in what was to them a new and hostile environment. They like the pioneers or early settlers had to survive pretty much on their own. Generally speaking they are much the same today as they were hundreds of years ago. Much of today’s newer breeds of livestock and poultry have traits and genes from these ancestors in them.
As to the why it is much the same as the what. They are still self sufficient still require less care and handling than many of the newer breeds. In addition most of the larger animals such as cows and hogs are smaller more compact and require less feed and or pastureland than their larger relatives. For the purposes of Pauline and myself this works to our advantage. There is just the two of us now and meat needs are not near as large as they once were. Having a beef that weighs close to a ton on foot and dresses half to three quarters of that when processed isn’t practical for us. The same goes for pork. A pig that weighs two to three hundred pounds and yields even half of that is a lot. Especially if you just put a thousand pounds of beef in the freezer. And what about if your neighbor who loves to hunt gives you half of his 2 deer for you processing them. How many freezers did you want?
What about Chickens? For my part forget about butchering your own chickens. I would rather butcher a hog any day. We raised some of the new hopped up broiler chickens. I just had to see if they would in fact grow that fast. They did. All they did was eat and do what comes after that and grow. Their bodies grew faster than they could grow feathers to cover it. I know there is others that do grow chickens to slaughter but that is not for me.
We have Dexters and enjoy them. No I am not about to try to sell you any. We have only 3. All Female. Had a Bull but got rid of him. The neighbor did not appreciate his desire to aid in the increase of his Angus herd. He was insistent about his intentions as well. I had the dubious pleasure of going and bringing him home on more than one occasion. You should have seen one of our neighbor ladies once when I tied him to the hitch on the truck and walked him back down the hard road. Hey it was either that or I walk him home and then walk back for the truck. Didn’t care much for that idea. Especially after chasing him all over that 50 acre lot he was in. Now I’m stuck no bull and cannot find anyone local to do AI. Took them to another Dexter person in 2014. He has a short legged bull our cows are long legged. No results in the spring. Guess he wasn’t up for the job.
As to the heritage stock check out The Livestock Conservancy at http://www.livestockconservancy.org/. They can give you a lot more info than I can and theirs is not just personal opinion