Here are all the main uses and some of the lesser known ways that traditional breeds can be utilised.
1. Breast, thigh, wing and leg meat.
Most native breeds do not produce large quantities of meat and may take over 20 weeks to mature. Ideally free range reared traditional breeds are best suited as roasting birds for the production of breast meat alone. Thigh, wing and leg meat is often limited in quantity and tough but full of flavour and sometimes gamey. If you can get over the disappointment that they do not look like the plump tasteless birds of the supermarket you would find them a tasty and healthy addition to your diet.
2. Duck and Goose fat for cooking
3. Legs and feet used to flavour soups.
4. Duck liver pate
Some breeds have been specifically developed for exhibition while some breeds have utility and exhibition strains.
6. Feathers for pillow contents
7. Primary wing feathers from geese were traditionally used as writing quills
8. Feathers for fly fishing
10. Crafts and decoration
Eggs can be used decoratively and used by children for various crafts. To start, the eggs must have their yolk and white removed to prevent them going off. To do this a pin can be used to make a hole at each end 3 or 4mm in diameter. The egg yolk and white are then broken using the pin. The insides are then blown out by mouth at one end. Re-insert the pin if necessary to help mix and relieve the contents. Once the yolk and white have been extracted the egg can be given a light rinse, dried and then decorated.
11. Manure Poultry manure is high in nitrogen and suitable for composting with bedding materials. You are only likely to get a large quantity of manure if you keep a large number of birds intensively. Poultry manure is best composted with other materials as the high nitrogen content can harm roots if not composted first. High nitrogen will encourage fast, vigorous vegetative growth on plants that may make new growth susceptible to damage and pest.
12. Waterfowl for plantation management
Ducks and geese are aggressive grazers and can survive largely on a plant diet given enough room. With adequate protection from predators, a flock of ducks or gaggle of geese would be ideally suited to grazing back vegetation around established trees, orchards and vines. They can also be used around young saplings providing their growing leader is protected by a guard to at least 3 feet (90cm). Otherwise leaves and bark are easily stripped from young plants. Management utilising a high stocking density with short periods of access and regular rotation or a low stocking density with permanent access are both suitable. However a low stocking density with a permanent means of protecting ducks and geese from predators is the least labour intensive and most naturally balanced method.
13. Insect, snail and slug removal
All poultry are useful for the consumption of common garden pests including insects and mice, but limiting access to plant areas is required to minimise damage to crops and plants which poultry also enjoy. Duck breeds are particularly useful for consuming snails. Dabbling ducks such as the breeds derived from the Mallard feed naturally on aquatic invertebrates and to a lesser extent grass and shoots. Breeds such as the Shetland duck were indeed traditionally used by islanders to consume mud snails which often played host to the liver fluke which affects sheep. By utilising ducks on pasture prior to sheep being introduced, the islanders were able to prevent and minimise the transmission of fluke to their sheep.
14. Geese as guards
Geese are very vocal and aggressive birds particularly when approached or disturbed by strangers, they are less likely to be distracted by food so make an excellent alarm for security purposes.
15. Low maintenance egg or carcass production
Some native duck and goose breeds are ideally suited to a low maintenance extensive system and have been selected and evolved to survive in often harsh exposed sites and where protection from predators is limited.
1. Meat: pork, bacon and charcuterie
Fat from pigs is utilised to make lard, some breeds are very productive back fatters, although none are bred specifically for fat today.
4. Hair for paint brushes
5. Bones for glue
6. Soil cultivation and Bracken and Scrub clearance.
Bracken is a favourite of pigs and despite being toxic to most livestock, pigs seem capable of consuming it in quantity without adverse effect. When pigs are utilised to cultivate ground they will usually start with what is easiest, ploughing the un-compacted grassy areas with deep humus. Saplings and small shrubs and trees are usually ignored to start with but once the majority of the ground has been cultivated and roots and worms consumed, they happily get to work digging up small scrubby plants to see what is underneath. Eventually if stocking densities are high or if pigs have permanent access to a small number of trees, you will find they will start to rub the trunks causing damage and will often nor on the bark. Fallen twigs and small branches may even be made into a nest by sows.
7. Consumption of fallen waste fruits and crop excesses.
Some breeds of pig such as the Gloucestershire Old Spot were often used traditionally to make use of unwanted fallen fruits within an orchard or to consume waste from the production of cider. The pigs converted these by-products into another useful product; pork. These sustainable farming practices made economical sense and made the most of what was available.
8. Manure Pig manure is ideally composted with straw bedding material and should not be directly applied to plants in large quantity. High in nitrogen once composted it makes an excellent plant food for leafy growth.
Native goats are not commonly utilised for meat as they have not been bred specifically for that purpose. Never the less British goats can still be utilised for meat, particularly Kid meat.
Goat leather is very tough and is ideally used in the manufacture of garden gloves and other high quality and hard wearing purposes.
4. Raw and pasteurized milk
6. Ice cream
8. Grazing hard to access locations and land that is very difficult to cultivate or utilise otherwise.
Goats have a knack for getting over and under things and are energetic and inquisitive. Many breeds were originally maintained and selected in environments where they have been kept in a semi-feral state. They often had to survive in windswept and wet locations with only a rock ledge or cave for shelter, this has made them extremely hardy. Many breeds have effectively evolved to make best use of remote and difficult to cultivate land and they are still suitable for that purpose today.
9. Bramble, gorse and other scrub clearance
Goats enjoy a very varied diet but they are picky and require fresh and safe food. They are browsers rather than grazers and relish the opportunity to consume leaves and woody material although they will consume grass if little other material is available. If necessary they can be tethered to keep them within bounds, but tethering has its associated risks of strangulation so extensive management is often more suitable providing boundaries are well constructed and secure. Goats will strip bark from young shrubs and trees, eat back saplings and brambles and generally cut any woody plant back hard. Particularly if given time and if their browsing and grazing area is restricted or if a high stocking density is utilised.
1. Lamb, mutton, hogget
2. Horn. Horns have been used for many purposes including the handles of walking sticks and crooks and as storage.
3. Hide and fleece
Used as rugs and often sold in craft, home-ware and souvenir shops in regions where sheep farming is common.
6. Wool. Wool has many uses including home spinning and crafts, summer and winter clothing, carpets, sound proofing and insulation.
7. Grazing hard to access locations and otherwise land that is very difficult to cultivate or utilise otherwise.
Most primitive and mountain breeds are ideally suited to extensive management on remote and harsh locations. Their naturally nervous disposition, nimble and athletic nature, their greater resistance to common sheep ailments and un-selective grazing habits make them particularly suitable. Many primitive breeds also have the ability to naturally moult their fleece in the summer although this trait is being lost in some.
Primitive and mountain breeds are thus ideally suited to grazing on difficult terrain with limited management.
In well established orchards or plantations sheep could be utilised very effectively to control competing plant vegetation. Providing the stocking density or frequency of access is controlled it may be possible to avoid any damage to the growing crop, particularly if the trees are individually fenced. Currently the Shropshire sheep breed is the only breed with a reputation for not stripping bark from both conifers and fruit trees.
9. Pasture and lawn cutting
If you have a fenced paddock or garden lawn that you want trimmed and fertilised as naturally as possible or if you wish to encourage diversity and maintain wild flower meadows then there are many docile and easy to tame native breeds suited to domestic use. In fact among the 59 native sheep breeds there is likely to be a breed local to you.
1. Meat: Veal, Beef
3. Hair for Wattle and Daub
5. Dairy produce. Including raw and pasteurized milk, butter, cheese, clotted cream, cream, Ice cream.
6. Draught cattle. For log extraction, ploughing and carting.
7. Conservation grazing
This type of grazing utilises the un-selective grazing habits and often smaller less demanding and less destructive size of many traditional breeds to graze grassland and wildflower meadows. The purpose is to encourage greater diversity in plant and insect and other wildlife by maintaining suitable habitat. Native breeds are often used by conservation organisations such as the National Trust and Wildlife Trusts.
Some breeds of cattle are best kept indoors overwinter and in some circumstances it may make for better grassland management to rest the ground over winter particularly on wet sites. In such circumstances a great deal of manure can be produced in a controlled indoor environment and it can then turn be composted with other fibrous material over the winter and spring months. The resultant compost can be left until the following autumn before being incorporated into garden soil or used as mulch around fruit trees and shrubs to retain moisture and warmth and to fertilise the soil.
Horse and Pony
1. Draught animals:
Log extraction, stump removal, carting, ploughing, barge/lighter towing
2. Riding and competing
Paint brushes, wattle and daub
4. Conservation grazing
5. Manure. Well rotted horse manure is often made available to gardeners and allotment holders as a means of improving soil fertility. Ideally it should be incorporated into the soil or utilised as mulch in the autumn months.