Friday, 12 May 2017

Answers to some queries re Aspects of British County Rare Breeds …



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 …
Old drover's road



… and hence to answer those questions … together with a bit more lore, some facts, stats, and interesting extras:




c/o RBST


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)
Minority (improving)





Some feet to be tarred before
being walked to market
Tarring of Feet of Poultry … animals and poultry were walked to the nearest Royal Market (1200 AD onwards, when the King had granted patronage) … along drove roads where inns would be found with enclosures for the animals to rest and feed …


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
extinct population
Zebra – I was surprised to read that Burchell’s zebra have been approved for farming in the UK – we have ostriches … it’s not a rare breed – but my Z post noted our zoological interest in zebras.  



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
British Library


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)
Rare Breeds – Wild Life … poaching, theft of stock, rural crime, illegal harvesting of wild plant species … this subject crosses borders and circles the world – an aspect I can mention, but one that is too broad for me to cover properly – and I wouldn’t do it justice – other than to remind you of these challenges …




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 …


Chillingham Bull  (1789) by Thomas Bewick
engraver and naturalist

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
We have the greatest number of native breeds of sheep and cattle in the world, each one unique and useful in its way … there are 35 breeds of cattle and 14 pig breeds, sheep I mentioned earlier on.  If we lose these … we lose a potentially vital genetic resource …




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: 


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 ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

73 comments:

Out on the prairie said...

It is fun for me to attend numerous fairs and look over the livestock. Crossing of breeds sometimes is a farmers choice to achieve what they want to see on their tables.I started out with 6 kinds of chickens, but through harvest and time they all have a similar bloodline connected to what rooster roams the yard.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Zebra - now that is unusual.
So the tar and sawdust was basically like a horseshoe for chickens?

Trin Carl said...

Menageries had me thinking of the Glass Menagery; a play I was in high school. Didn't know it was also the word for zoos.Ethical Taxidermy...didn't know that existed either. Learning loads from your blog, thanks!

Jo said...

A stuffed griffin? I thought they were fictional critters? Along with others, I have found your Rare Breeds blogs very interesting Hilary. Must admit I miss eating British meats because here it isn't hung as long. Mind you, the lack of fat and marbling makes meat tougher too. Those sausages looked so good.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Steve - I know animals will sort themselves out ... it's great you're rearing animals though, and utilising your time still appreciating and learning new stuff about livestock via the Country Fairs and Shows ... then also that we can breed the type of animals we'd like to keep ...

@ Alex - I know ... had to note it though! I've answered your tar and sawdust query ... with some other links ... I think I'll leave it for you to read up ...

@ Trin - well similar, except the Tennessee Williams play was about fragile humans ... that I guess is where Williams drew his 'zoo-affiliated' title from ...

I found the Ethical Taxidermy link really interesting ... just delighted you are happy to read ...

@ Jo - it is a legendary creature ... but Copenhagen University used the description for a taxidermic exhibit ...strange but true!

Our farm meat is excellent and we do hang our meat for a decent length of time - not the supermarket offerings ... but good farmed carcasses ... also as you say the marbling does give a really delicious flavour ... the sausages do look good - pity Wales is so far away!

Cheers to you - thanks for asking more questions ... duly answered and updated on the blog ... Hilary

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I've been to the London Zoo. I even touched a penguin. (No one saw me.)

Liz A. said...

Interesting how times and tastes change.

A Heron's View said...

From old very fat Sows, Walls would make ice cream. Once that fat fact had been established I stopped eating the factory made British ice cream.

Joanne said...

The depths gone to for preservation are admirable. I hope upcoming generations will continue the efforts. You folks have such a rich selection of breeds
I like the lop ear pig- I need ears like that to protect my eyes. Ha
Take care and thanks for all of your research

Lenny Lee said...

hi grandblogmum!

wow...more cool info. the tar foot chicken was interesting. yikes! so many different breeds, especially sheep.

i saw a BBC special about the tower of London and it talked about when the lower portion was used as a menagerie.

yep...eat more meat! we're off to the Jamaican restaurant tonight. for me it's curried goat and rice, fried plantain, a slice of avocado and a big glass of sorrel. yah man! yum!

Elephant's Child said...

Not too long at all.
Fascinating snippets to set my mind wandering (which it is prone to do).
Not going to eat the rare breeds though (or any meat), but will applaud those who work to save them. Applaud loudly.

Karen Lange said...

What a fun and interesting post! I especially liked the part about the chickens. I had no idea. Appreciate you sharing this with us, Hilary. Have a lovely weekend!:)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Diane - I bet you couldn't touch a penguin now ... I haven't been for decades!

@ Liz - yes, life does change ... not much walking now ... driving, or bicycling around ...

@ Mel - oh yugh ... and you are so right ... it's even in the blurb on Wiki!! Mind you I should have known ... waste not want not ...

@ Joanne - I certainly hope there will be generations of conservationists to keep us all on track - it's an amazing organisation ...

Yes - the lop eared pig is wonderful to see isn't it ... I'm delighted people come by and read and seem to enjoy ... thank you

@ Lenny - lots of information here: I can't seem to stop finding it at the moment ... but this is probably the last post about the RBST for a while ...

There's so much history to our food culture today ... it had to start somewhere ... the walking to market for anything that didn't fly!

Oh how interesting you found a BBC programme on the Tower of London and its menagerie ... very clever of you to watch!

More meat - oh enjoy that meal last night I think ... the Jamaican restaurant sounds really good ... I'd have loved to have joined you - sounds delicious ... something very different for me ...

@ EC - am happy it wasn't too long ... and that despite being a non-meat eater you enjoyed the information and the posts (previous)

@ Karen - the walking to town must have been tough for the poor old birds back in the day - it's extraordinary how our food was 'driven' for us ...

Cheers to you all - thanks so much for visiting and am glad you enjoyed the extra snippets - Hilary

Ann Bennett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Bennett said...

Not long enough, this is an interesting read.

I had read about Chillingham cattle. We've done DNA in our family and as a result my new hobby is tracing family back. And of my 5000 to 10,000 at least tenth great grandparent's, this direct line lived in Chillingham in the 1300s and 1400s. Thus my study of the area. I've always been an anglophile. I thought it was because I am an American.

Jacqui Murray said...

So interesting. The tarring of the feet--were they being kind? Hmm...

I wonder how many new species are discovered to offset the extinct ones. I've read a species only lasts about 2 million year, because of environmental changes. The whole field fascinates me.

Suzanne Furness said...

Hi Hilary, what an interesting read. Never knew about the tarring of the chickens feet to protect them, walking them all those miles seems almost unimaginable now. And the origins of sweating like a pig was also a new one.

Sylvia van Bruggen said...

What a great post! I love the sweating like a pig reference, had NO idea about that.

Have a lovely weekend!!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I always learn so much from your posts. Well, those poor chickens had the feathers to go with the tar! :-)

Jz said...

I really need to stop coming here before eating...
I just got back from that race, still have a bit of time until lunch is ready, and now I'm looking at mouth-watering pork chops.
You're killing me, Hilary! ;-p

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Wow, lots of interesting information here. I never knew about the tarring of the chicken feet, but it makes a lot of sense that they'd do that if they had to walk that many miles. (I guess they wouldn't be very plump when they arrived, eh?)

It's also interesting that there are so many different breeds of cows and pigs. I had no idea! The lop-eared pig is adorable. (But I think ALL baby pigs are cute.)

It's funny how much pork has changed over the years. I remember how fatty it was when I was a girl, and how careful we had to be to cook it very well to avoid trichinosis. Now, most pork cuts are so loin, they're almost TOO lean for sausage-making. (A lot of people add beef fat to their sausage mix, but I don't.) And it's now safe to serve slightly-pink pork.

M. Denise C. said...

Oh yes, do a post on those Exmoor Ponies, Hilary! So interesting about the tar on the feet of the animals. Cheers and Happy Saturday, Denise

Sue Bursztynski said...

I just have to ask - why would you farm zebras? Not for eating, I hope! No one would start a farm unless there was a profit in it.


Just Been To See...Carmen

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Ann – how interesting you’ve had the DNA investigation done for your family and now you can trace back the direct line back to Chillingham in the 12th – 13th centuries – fascinating and so exciting. Interesting how things pan out … and on realising our roots – things make sense … that’s great!

@ Jacqui – yes the tarring of feet gave them some protection … and I guess ensured more got to market without dying on their feet!

I think quite a lot of new species are still being discovered, but they’ll be smaller ones – insects etc- yet we need them all … as the cycle of life is just that. It is fascinating isn’t it …

@ Suzanne – well I’m delighted to read your comment … the tarring of feet was more for the geese and ducks … I’m sure hens went shorter distances though. Sweating like a pig was a fun find …

@ Sylvia – delighted you enjoyed the post … sweating like a pig – yes apparently … but those furnaces must have been dreadful to work in …

@ Roland – thank you – am happy you enjoyed visiting … and that tarring of the feet was more for the ducks and geese … That ‘tarring and feathering’ is a difficult connotation from the first World War … sad, but true …

@ Jz – oh well done on finishing your run – good for you … and well I had to put some food in to the post … but sorry for that! You deserve a pork chop now …?!

@ Susan - I’m sure the birds walking long distances wouldn’t be very plump and probably quite ‘stringy’ … but that was the way it was. It applied too for the animals … they needed to walk to market.

I was interested to find out about the different breeds – the lop-eared pig seems to be fascinating one and all. Meat as a whole has changed, as you mention, since I was a child, and I remember that we needed to cook the sausages thoroughly – our health is better served through the regulations – yet perhaps we’re letting other problems in … anti-biotics etc … Not an area I’m going to venture into … but pork is a delicious meat …

@ Denise – oh gosh … I need to ask for some help re the Exmoors – will do… yes the tarring of the feet to get animals to market without dying on the hoof is an interesting aspect of early production of food that needs to get to market somehow …

@ Sue – the Independent’s article from 2014 discusses zebra meat … and it is being farmed … I haven’t seen any zebras in the British landscape … but I wouldn’t be surprised. We have llamas, ostriches and other exotics …

Obviously I’ve opened some other queries here … such is life! But it’s great you all connect and enjoy the posts and so thank you for visiting … cheers Hilary

Chrys Fey said...

Peacocks are so beautiful. I don't like thinking of them being cooked for food. :(

Robert Bennett said...

It's kind of funny. As I was reading, I kept thinking "Oh wow, I never thought of eating that." and kept having the same thought immediately after. "If it exists, someone's probably tried to eat it. If it was edible, it was probably fashionable to keep eating it for a time." XD

Stephen Tremp said...

Hilary, I find it so amazing there can be so many different species of a single animal. I always thought there was one kind of sheep. But 77 recorded kinds? Life on this planet continues to amaze me. Thanks for sharing.

DMS said...

Lots of info! Thanks for answering the questions and giving us more info on all these fascinating animals. Interesting to think about the breeding that is done based on consumer tastes.

Have a lovely week!
~Jess

Nilanjana Bose said...

The chops and sausages look sooo tempting. loved the bit about must eat more of them to conserve them! totally willing to pitch in and do my bit :)

I'm under the impression Henry VIII was partial to peacocks, don't know where I picked that up or if it's true :) It's quite amazing the range of animals humans have bred and ate/eat! I wonder how 'old-fashioned' gets defined in the case of animal/poultry breeds?

As usual, educational and entertaining and utterly fascinating.

Happy Monday and week!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Chrys - peacocks are stunning aren't they ... but needs must in the Middle Ages ... then when other foods became easier or there was more on them peacocks went out of fashion ...

@ Robert - humans will eat what they can catch and thus what they can cook ... and have tried many things through the centuries ... I don't think it was fashionable to eat it - today probably - back then it'd have been a necessity ...

@ Stephen - I knew there were many breeds, but certainly not all these with all their different characteristics ... we do share an amazing place in this world ...

@ Jess - yes .. there was more info - but enough was enough ... and the breeding aspect for the change in our diets has only come about relatively recently - but is something we don't think about: as you say ...

@ Nila - yes it's good to know we can eat more of the meat from the Rare Breeds to help sustain that particular type of animal.

I, too, had seen the reference to Henry VIII eating peacocks ... and I'm sure it was true. Well we had to catch our food - and then cook it ... so I guess they would try whatever could be caught and used.

Old fashioned in animal/poultry breeds ... probably as an early breed, or rare breed now ... one that is no longer found in the market place - though there will be other more appropriate definitions ...

Thanks everyone for being so interested in this subject ... I've thoroughly enjoyed all your comments and thoughts ... cheers Hilary

Shannon Lawrence said...

Interesting about tarring the feet of the birds. Also, as far as I know, the pigs farmed in the U.S. don't sweat, which is why they roll in the mud--to cool. I had no idea there were pigs that did sweat.

DeeDee said...

77 breeds of sheep...wow

Click Here to see what Mrs. Dash Says

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

I'd love a magical menagerie - full of all rare breeds (magical or not) :-) Mm, maybe I'll add it to a story...

Bish Denham said...

Insuring the diversity of animals is so important, as is insuring the diversity of plants. I think of the potato famine... and our ever growing reliance of certain kinds of genetically altered corn and wheat. What if...

Luckily there are people around the world who's mission is to preserve "old world" and "antique" seeds.

cleemckenzie said...

This was one interesting post, and as usual, I learned a lot. Tarring those animals' feet? That was a new one, but even that they'd walk hundreds of miles was news to me. I never thought about chickens on the march before.

By the time breeders get rid of all the fatty animals, we'll have switch back to "fat is good." In fact, that's already happening.

Great answers, Hilary.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

How interesting! The tarring of the poultry feet is amazing- people are resourceful.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Shannon - yes the tarring of feet always brings a cocked eyebrow into the conversation! I know very little about pigs ... or for that matter that some sweat and others don't ...

@ DeeDee - I know just a few breeds ... but all with different characteristics ...

@ Ronel - sounds a good story will be brought to light .. enjoy writing it!

@ Bish - thankfully the what if ... is being thought about - there are very comprehensive seed banks ... and I hope we continue to protect our rare animals and all species. As you say there are people who are looking to the future ...

@ Lee - I'm still not sure it's chickens on the march - but definitely geese and ducks ... I think the chicken was a decoy in my post!

As you say - we are realising that we need to eat a variety of types of meat ... fatty, marbled etc ...

@ Elizabeth - I suppose the geese and ducks would have died on the way from over-walking and having no protection ... humans are resourceful - you can say that again ...

Cheers to you all - lovely to read your comments - Hilary

Lynn said...

I guess fatty meat isn't good for us, but it always seems more tasty (I'm thinking of brisket.) :)

mail4rosey said...

That's pretty cool info. about the birds and the tar. I'm not surprised though, animals like people, always seem to find a way. :)

H.R. Sinclair, Southpaw said...

Lots of cool stuff, but the thing about tarring the chicken feet was fascinating!

beste barki said...

There is so much detail in the past to re-discover.

Kelly Steel said...

Interesting post, Hilary! It must have been so much fun!

Deborah Weber said...

What a fun post Hilary - I love the idea of following up answering questions. For some reason I'm entirely enchanted by the idea that zebras are black with white stripes.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

That is a long way for poultry to walk to market. It seems they would be pretty thin when they got there and how did they keep them all together? I think nearly all the American Breeds of dairy cattle are from GB.

sage said...

The idea of herding chickens and ducks to market explains Monty Python!

Debbie D. said...

Another fascinating read. Thanks, Hilary. I was especially intrigued by the tarring of the feet. How considerate! I'm not a big red meat eater, but do enjoy chicken and sometimes, turkey; pork on occasion.

SENCO Cat Herder said...

I didn't know about the tarring of fowl's feet but it does make so much sense. We should take pride in having such a range of breeds of our livestock in this country and as you say a broad genetic base is always good to have to protect against the future - especially diseases. The nearby organic farm raises Dexter cattle for their beef and we do our bit by buying from them direct as they also do their own butchering too - boy is it tasty meat :)
Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

Regine Karpel said...

Thanks.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lynn – we all need a little fat … but as you say it is tastier … brisket – sounds good!

@ Rosey – it’s a funny life we learn about isn’t it – how we got where we are … as you say – a way is usually found …

@ Holly – lots of ideas here about the old ways … and the tarring of feet, so the poultry can be walked to market …

@ Beste – yes the past does tell us an awful lot … about how we got to where we are today …

@ Kelly – the A-Z was fun … and I learnt loads

@ Deborah – I try and answer things as I go along … not always possible, so this made sense – it is ‘funny’ to think about zebras being black with white stripes …

@ Susan – it was a long way for poultry to walk isn’t it … I guess a few ‘shepherds’ and some guiding sticks would keep the flock together … then they’d stop and feed along the way.

It’s possible the Americas had Spanish cattle as well as British cattle … as they did horses …

@ Sage – did Monty Python have a sketch about the herding of poultry … I’m afraid I don’t remember that … but I’m sure they’d have done something like that …

@ Debbie – it is interesting to write things up. Interesting to learn about how they gave their animals some protection when walking ‘long distances’ …

@ Senco – yes the tarring of duck and other poultry feet makes sense for that walk to market. I think we are essentially proud of what we protect and look after here … Oh well done on getting organic foods from the farm and Dexter beef – it is so much better – and I bet it is tasty …

@ Regine – thank you

Cheers – so good to have your comments and thoughts - Hilary

Nick Wilford said...

Interesting to read that sweating like a pig doesn't have anything to do with a pig, and I always thought zebras were white with black stripes. Lots of interesting add-ons to your theme!

Jean Davis said...

I think you win for the best A to Z follow up post. :) I would not have thought of the big pig ears like sunglasses, but I suppose that makes sense. And also thank you for clarifying the tarring of the bird feet. It sounded cruel the first time around but much better now.

Christine Rains said...

Farming zebras seems weird to me. Get follow up to your A-Z! My son has this new interest in sheep as they're doing a farm unit at school. We got a half dozen books from the library about sheep, and it's funny how it's fascinated us.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I can't help it, I LOVE the Lop Pigs. hee hee. Another incredibly informative and entertaining post.

Crystal Collier said...

77 types of sheep? That's insanity. I don't like eating lamb, so it seems all the more preposterous to me, but whatever works, eh? Now give me bacon any day. That's right. I'll take it!

Elsie Amata said...

I feel terrible, but as I read this post, it made me hungry for lunch. It must've been the picture of sausage at the end. I love me some brats!

Elsie Amata

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Nick - it's funny how these 'phrases' come about isn't it ... and those zebra stripes ... black with white ... and exactly lots of little extras ...

@ Jean - thanks so much ... it's easier to write things up and add to the mix ... yes sun-glassed pigs with their ears ... funny old life we live. Oh no ... poor poultry - their feet were being protected.

@ Christine - I agree farming zebras does seem weird to me - and I've yet to see a farm ... and whether we have enough space for them ... I'm not sure about. Fantastic about your son and his interest in sheep ... as they've got the farm unit at school ... enjoy looking around the posts ...

@ Teresa - I know .. the lop pigs are pretty amazing ...just 'loppy'! Glad you enjoyed the post ...

@ Crystal - yes quite a few breeds of sheep ... lamb isn't everyone's taste - but is part of our English life ... and it works for us. Oh I'll have bacon too!! I'll join you there ...

@ Elsie - no worries ... food always uses rather more of our senses than we'd wish sometimes ... the thought of a sausage now - would be quite nice - but way too early, sadly!

Thanks to you all - enjoy your day and good to see you - cheers Hilary

Keith's Ramblings said...

Sorry, I'm a bit late to the party - a busy time right now. What an interesting post- lots of additional information. Long but worth every word!

Click to visit Keith's Ramblings!

Sherry Ellis said...

I had no idea there were that many breeds of sheep - or cows for that matter. Very informative post!

C.D. Gallant-King said...

Holy... I thought a sheep was a sheep! I mean, I guess I knew there were different breeds, but no where near that many.

Also, that story about herding poultry is amazing. It makes perfect sense, but I had never heard about it before. Now I want to read a story about a harrowing 13th century poultry drive, a-la a western cattle drive across the Old West. Braving the elements, evading poultry rustlers... it would be epic!

Julie Flanders said...

LOL I never would have guessed there were so many kinds of sheep. I honestly just kind of thought a sheep was a sheep but that was silly since I have seen different kinds. Still, a surprise there are so many breeds!

The lop-eared piglet is too cute! I've wondered where the sweating like a pig comes from - interesting. I wouldn't have guessed that answer.

Thanks for this fun post!

bookworm said...

I thought I commented - if I did already, you have two comments from me. I am thrilled to see the interest in rare breeds your A to Z posts have uncovered. It makes me so happy, having raised heritage chickens and geese, years ago, before there was such a concept as "heritage" or rare breeds. Saving these old breeds is critical to our survival, I think. Thank you!!! The Unknown Journey Ahead agingonthespectrum.blogspot.com

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Keith - no worries ... these were just some extras which I'm glad you enjoyed ...

@ Sherry - I knew there must be lots of breeds of the different animals - but posting about them has allowed me to learn lots ... and open my eyes to other things ...

@ CD - the numbers seem to be taking everyone by surprise ... now I'm sure you could come up with an excellent story about a medieval poultry herder driving his birds along the drove ... stopping to feed at enclosure pens ...

@ Julie - I'm glad I highlighted the number of breeds still around ... similar to dogs .. and remember I'm only talking Rare Breeds ... there are 217 dog breeds of all types in the UK ...

The lop-eared pigs are ringing the happy vibes ... while the fact pigs don't sweat, yet there's this term 'sweating like a pig' has interested everyone ...

@ Bookworm - I know you've commented on other posts - the A-Z Reflections and the "We Are The World, In Darkness Be Light" ... all I've done here is try to bring a few things together ...

I remember you raised heritage chickens and geese years ago and realised it is critical we keep them to help with our own survival in due course ...

Cheers to you all - Hilary

Juliet Batten said...

Hilary, this is fascinating. What stood out for me was that poultry would be walked to market! - and the tarring of feet. I think we are kinder to creatures these days.
Sorry I'm not visiting so much but Blogger won't give me notifications any more as it won't recognise my email. And when I'm away at the bach the broadband isn't up to it.
But it's always nice to drop in again and see what you are up to.

Tyrean Martinson said...

It's fascinating to see how much there is to learn about rare breeds of various types of animals. Despite raising a handful of cows for beef, rabbits for fun (I named them), and having neighbors who raised turkeys, ducks, and geese, I know there's a great deal more to know about various breeds and all of their distinctive features.
Thanks for sharing!

Silvia Villalobos said...

I missed the AZs this year - may have read a post or two -- so this was an interesting read. We sure had a way with certain creatures back in the day. Glad we moved away from some of those practices. And now I know where "Sweating like a pig" comes from. :) Good for those people who work to save rare birds, and animals in general.

Inger said...

This is so interesting. Too bad we have to eat them to keep them going. I really appreciate your research to help us all become better informed, not only on this, but on so many subjects over the years. Thanks, Hilary.

Birgit said...

I would not want to ever eat peacocks...to pretty, fat or sausage....utter yuck to me. Very informative

Madeleine Sara said...

Goodness Zebra farming. That is a surprise. Love all the facts too.

I often wondered about sweating like a pig now that I am of a certain age! ;) My grandma never perspired and bees never stung her, either. We wondered whether there was a connection.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Juliet - I think the tarring of the feet helped the geese and turkeys as it protected them as they had to walk a long way - I hope we're kinder today. No worries - the internet can be frustrating at times ... but it's lovely to see you visiting here and having the Bach must be wonderful ...

@ Tyrean - I learnt an awful lot doing these posts ... and know I'll be back to re-read and refresh my memory. There are certainly a great many things to understand about rare breeds ... and I haven't touched on so many of them - but am delighted you enjoyed the post ...

@ Silvia - The A-Z is frenetic ... but it's good to see you here and getting a flavour of my theme etc. The practices of the old days ... must be so interesting to learn about - at some stage I must learn more. I'm glad the explanation for "Sweating like Pig" made sense from its connotation. Yes the Rare Breeds Trust is doing a good job ...

@ Inger - well I think the eating of them is the important part - we then keep the breed alive, as we need more of them. Old Spot Pigs are in dire straits ... I'd thought that breed was on the up, but apparently not ...

Thanks for your compliment re my posts - appreciate your thoughts ...

@ Birgit - We eat what's available don't we ... and peacocks were available, when perhaps other birds weren't so popular with the nobility. Food is as we want or need it ... but am glad you appreciated the post ...

@ Madeleine - I haven't seen zebra being farmed ... but they eat horse-meat in France ... so not much different probably.

Yes "Sweating like a Pig" comes to the fore for us ladies of a certain age ... what an interesting bit of information about your grandmother never perspiring and thus bees apparently didn't want to sting her ...

Cheers to you all - thanks for visiting - Hilary

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Wow, I'm surprised by the large numbers of breeds of cows, pigs, and sheep. I shall have to ask my husband if he knows the stats for the USA.

Wonderful informative article!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sharon - it'd be good if your hubby does know the stats for the USA - it'd be interesting to post them here ...

I found the whole exercise of the A-Z Rare Breeds Survival Trust fascinating - so much to learn ... so I'm delighted you enjoyed this post - cheers Hilary

Deniz Bevan said...

I guess I knew that horses and cattle and so on walked to markets, but birds did too?? I had no idea they had so much energy and stamina.

I like the idea of eating them to help conserve them. Yum! :P

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Deniz - yes Goose Fairs were held from about 1,000 years ago ... still popular - they had to have stamina!! Getting to market was an essential - so they could make some money and others could eat ... from Middle Ages time ... thanks for your visit ... cheers Hilary