A number of questions were raised during my A-Z of British Rare Breeds which I will endeavour to answer in this post … almost certainly long – sorrrreeeeeee …
… and hence to answer those questions … together with a bit more lore, some facts, stats, and interesting extras:
We have 77 recorded SHEEP breeds, of which 21 are commercially viable, 56 are native, while 24 of those are on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s Watchlist …
Watchlist criteria (worth repeating, I thought) – the description varies a little with each animal population – but for sheep is as follows:
Critical (very few left)
Endangered (a few more, but not many)
Vulnerable (says it all)
At Risk (slightly better)
|Some feet to be tarred before
being walked to market
… the birds (geese, ducks) would be ‘driven’ through a ditch of cold tar solution, which made their feet sticky, then through sawdust or sand, which would stick to the tar, and protect them as they walked to market, often up to 40 – 100 miles or more … but for 8 – 9 miles a day.
|c/o British Lop Pig organisation
The British Lop Pig – is a very docile and easily managed breed, partly due to their large pendulous ears restricting their vision.
It appears that the ears would also keep the sun off its eyes, and to a point be able to keep the dust, mud and flies away.
|Pig-iron Smelting at Coalbrookdale
by Philipp Loutherbourg (1801)
Sweating like a pig … comes from pigs which sweat – something the British Lop Pigs, apparently, do not suffer from – but this term refers to pig-iron smelting …
|Roast Pork Chop, pumpkin and kale
Pigs and fat … the consumers’ change of taste over the decades: after the War … large, commercial breeds were encouraged – in fact we even had a pig and piglets at home for a few years …
… now consumers do not want fatty meat – so in some of the commercial breeds this trait is being bred out.
|Burchell's Zebra - specimens from
Zebra stripes – it seems that they are black animals with white stripes and underbellies … but see Wiki for further information …
Peacock – cooking and eating thereof … see the link to Coquinaria – which gives some interesting medieval information on peacocks and other birds in the kitchen …
|c/o Dairy Co - Cattle breeds of Britain
Cattle – Ellie Crossley, the cowgirl taking on our last herd of Chillingham wild cattle, the oldest known breed in the world. Read all about it and her at The Telegraph’s: agriculture – farming article … wonderful pictures of the cows …see below
|Tower of London Menagerie -
15th C illustration in
Menageries (early zoos) … Emperor Charlemagne was the first sovereign to have a menagerie in the 8th C, they were then taken up by kings, nobles across the world … England to Baghdad, Africa to Asia. William the Conqueror had a small one … the Tower Menagerie, London began as early as 1204 …
British zoos were at their zenith in the late 1700s, as the scientific world started to understand more about flora and fauna … by 1831 the animals were transferred to London Zoo – but for a long time menageries were illustrations of power and wealth.
|Phillip Loutherbourg -
Animals in the Countryside (1767)
|Stuffed Griffin at
University of Cophenhagen
Last but not least I came across this post about Taxidermy from the Wellcome Collection Blog entitled “Intimate and Invasive: the Art of Ethical Taxidermy” … many of you who write mysteries, murder mysteries, stories in general may find this post of interest.
In saving these Rare Breeds we are conserving our heritage, ensuring that in future there will be a wider range of genetics to choose from – adaptable to future needs …
As I have shown in the A-Z … we have a huge diversity of livestock and poultry on this island. Over hundreds of years, selective breeding and careful husbandry by shepherds and farmers all across the country has produced a huge range of different animals.
|Rare Breeds Survival Trust stand
|A range of meats from Graig Farm Organics
A particular breed may seem unfashionable and old fashioned now, but who knows what conditions will prevail in the future, what breeds will thrive as agriculture changes, as it must, over the next decades.
|Graig Farm Organic Sausages
We are now using our knowledge to create new, modern breeds suited to conditions today … and in particular environments.
|Z for Zonked!
The best way for us as consumers to save these rare breeds, which may seem counter-intuitive – is to eat them … yummy!!! So search out some sausages, a leg of lamb, or some steaks from a rare breed, perhaps try some goat, finish with some cheeses but enjoy your meal.
|Exmoor Ponies have been present in
Britain since 700,000 years BC -
I need to do a separate post of them anon!
I met someone yesterday who was
giving me the low down ...
That’s a wrap folks! I’ve shot my bolt - however … any questions I haven’t answered please ask and I will endeavour to answer.
Now to the links:
Ellie Crossley, the cowgirl taking on our last wild herd of Chillingham Cattle c/o The Daily Telegraph
Know your Sheep Facts - National Sheep Association
Graig Farms, Powys, Wales - Organic farming
The Independent - Zebra Meat: Exotic and Lean
The cooking of Peacock - c/o Coquinaria
Rare Breeds: What's the Point? - Indie Farmer
Now to extra notes ...thanks to Alex's questions ...
re shoeing/ tarring of animals being walked/ herded to market and some other quite interesting thoughts ...
The Telegraph - Quite Interesting
Google answers re Geese, Black Cattle being shod with iron plates, animals and poultry being 'socked' ... leather soled socks ...
Added 12 November 2017 - "The gang" ... at "By Stargoose and Hanglands" blog - enjoy!