We don’t always know the mood of our animals, but we do know when they are living in an environment that nature intended. Our chickens roam in the sun, and our sheep and cattle graze on green grass. We are the opposite of industrialized agriculture’s CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation). A CAFO confines animals during the growing season in an area that does not produce vegetation, and that has been targeted by the EPA as having a potential pollution profile.
At Hoosier Heritage Farm, our animals are always on grass outside, except during the winter, and animal waste is returned to the soil as a blessing, not a pollutant. Our farm is one that you would like to live next to.
The Animals On Our Farm
Cornish Cross chickens are the most popular meat birds in the United States. Consumers prefer the large breasts and tender and juicy meat that these birds produce. But what makes these birds truly spectacular is our flock management—free range and no antibiotics. They are far superior to anything you can buy at the grocery store.
Once a staple of farms around the country, the Rhode Island Red is known for its hardiness and great production of brown eggs. The breed fell out of favor as huge commercial flocks began to displace small farms, but they play a central role in our egg-laying flock. As a boy, I remember my uncle raising Rhode Island Reds right around the corner from our farm, so they have a special place for me.
Barred Rocks are also an old breed that have proven egg-laying abilities coupled with hardiness and good manners. Barred Rocks originated in New England in the early 19th Century. Their distinctive white and black plumage create the “bars” that give them their name.
Bourbon Reds originated in the bourbon-producing regions of Kentucky in the late 1800s. As a heritage breed, these birds are relatively slow-growing, long-lived, and able to breed naturally. They are great foragers, which makes them ideal for their free-range home. Although they won’t develop as much breast meat as a commercial white turkey, the meat has been described as “boldly flavored,” “savory,” and “a depth of flavor that others don’t have.”
Originally the product of crossing domestic turkeys from Europe with American wild turkeys in the 1700s, the bronze turkey quickly became the most popular turkey throughout most of American history. The Broad Breasted Bronze has been developed to have a similar dark/white meat ratio to commercial white birds—about 50/50. Due to their dark plumage, when these turkeys are dressed their skin will show a darker pigmentation where the feathers have been plucked.
These birds are the most common turkeys in the United States. Bred to grow quickly with a high amount of white breast meat, they have become a favorite of the turkey industry. Our farming methods, which include raising these birds on grass and with plenty of sunshine, produce a superior product. There’s no comparison with those bought at the big grocery down the street!
The Angus breed traces its origin back to the northeastern counties of Scotland (one of which is Angus county) in the 18th Century. These cattle were brought to America in large numbers in the latter part of the 19th Century, and their popularity quickly increased. In fact, they are the most popular breed of cattle in the US. Consumers love Angus cattle for their excellent, evenly-marbled meat. Farmers prefer them because of their hardiness and their easy calving.
According to Carol Ekarius, a noted expert on grass-fed animals, the Berkshire “pig is hardy, has good mothering capabilities and performs very well outdoors, especially when grazing on pasture. This pig breed’s meat is darker than commercial pork and far more flavorful than the pork found in your grocery-store freezer.” The Berkshire is one of the oldest pig breeds, dating back to 17th Century England.
Pygmy goats originated in West Africa. They were imported into America in the mid-20th Century and quickly gained popularity as pets and exhibition animals due to their good-natured personalities, friendliness and hardy constitution. We keep pygmy goats primarily for showing at 4-H and other competitions. They are also fun for visitors because they are so personable and accessible.