Carruthers Wednesday Mar 19 12:02 PM
March 19th 2014: Dogs & Horses.
I know that this is rather self-indulgent, but I've always been fond of horses and I hope that these two images are worth a couple of minutes of your time.
The native heavy horses, the Shire, Clydesdale and Suffolk Punch are magnificent creatures but they are rather scarce these days.
A number of breweries kept them going for deliveries in city centres, especially London, until fairly recently, and although they said it made economic sense, it was really part of the firms' PR effort.
The Heavy Horse Musical Drive at the Horse of the Year Show would bring a lump to the throat of even the most jaded soul.
Anyway, there's more here:
Heligan heavy horse power used for poppy field planting
Heavy Horse ploughing at The Lost Gardens
Carruthers Wednesday Mar 19 12:08 PM
Not forgetting the dog.
A Labrador doing what Labradors do best...
glatt Wednesday Mar 19 12:23 PM
I'd love to see a graph of the world population of horses and also horse varieties.
Carruthers Wednesday Mar 19 12:39 PM
I'm not sure how the Clydesdale is doing, but I recall that the Suffolk Punch was in real danger a few years ago.
I know that there is a chap by the name of Smrt in Illinois who has a successful Shire breeding programme and of course Budweiser do their bit for the Clydesdale.
Spent a very enjoyable afternoon at the Budweiser stables near Ft Collins a few years ago. Happy days.
Gravdigr Wednesday Mar 19 01:05 PM
The Amish community(ies) here use Percherons for heavy work, hauling grain wagons, plowing and such.
xoxoxoBruce Wednesday Mar 19 03:31 PM
Farming has always looked for ways to make it easier, more efficient, and less of a gamble on what they'll eat next winter. Rare breeds are rare because some people decided they were not as favorable as some other breed, or they were cross bred shooting for the best of both.
Sundae Wednesday Mar 19 03:48 PM
Sometimes the rarer breeds (more rare?) of animals which are eaten have been left by the wayside in the drive for bigger, faster, more. As in Ortho's Poultry Plant post.
orthodoc Wednesday Mar 19 06:01 PM
With the takeover of food production by Big Ag, animals have become mere 'units of production', and sheer quantity/volume elevated above every other asset (taste, for instance). Modern Holsteins are udders on legs. Their milk isn't particularly good nutritionally or in terms of taste, compared to that of other breeds, but they produce: wow, do they produce. So they are THE dairy breed now. Similarly, one breed has become the accepted standard for chickens, turkeys, pork, etc. Never mind that the turkeys, for example, are so bizarrely genetically manipulated that they cannot breed. Their giant breasts (these are the Toms; can you imagine the hens?) get in the way. Turkey semen is collected in a hysterically hilarious manner (check it out on youtube) and the hens are artificially inseminated.
A big problem is that, in demanding one inbred breed to the exclusion of all others, we've lost genetic diversity. One good bug could wipe out our entire (fill in your favorite meat here) supply.
Some of the less-popular breeds became so simply because it was no longer financially feasible to continue breeding them, not because they were inferior. The Shire and Suffolk Punch horses were magnificent. Luckily there are still plenty of Clydesdales around.
Some people purposely keep small flocks/herds of older 'heritage' breeds of different animals specifically in order to conserve genetic diversity. This is what I hope to do once I get back to my property.
Chickens, turkeys, maybe ducks or geese (with donkeys to guard them), a few goats and/or sheep. I'd keep heritage pigs but I couldn't bear to butcher them, they're too intelligent. It'd be almost as bad as butchering a dolphin. And cows ... bleh. I like the shaggy Highland breed but don't have the room ... I'd keep a few ponies or small horses instead.