Rare and Wild Beasts
The Griffin family – who have raised Guernsey cattle since 1923 on the small island of Wight, south of England – brings us all our dairy, including the rich, creamy, uniquely gold butter that is specific to Guernsey cows. Dairy from Guernsey cattle has superior health properties: three times more Omega 3s, 12% more protein, 15% more calcium and 33% more vitamin D than conventional milk. Besides being fed year round on grass, the Guernsey cows are the only dairy breed in the world that produce A1 milk, the original milk protein cattle produced before humans intervened.
What began as a hobby in 2009 with 30 Aylesbury ducklings is now the most celebrated duck farm in all of Australia. The Clarke family chose a rare breed of duck originally from England dating back to the 18th century. The ducks on the Clarke’s farm roam free rain or shine on lush green pastures, foraging on grass and grubs and supplemented with seasonal fruits and grains, some soaked with a homeopathic cider vinegar. Like many of our heritage breeds, the Clarke’s Aylesbury ducks have longer lifespans, a remarkable flavour and are nutritionally dense.
Perhaps our most famous heritage breed, the Mangalica pig, or the ‘wooly pig,’ dates back to the early 1800s and is prized for its unique flavor and valuable lard. Native to Hungary, the Mangalica now forage on native grasslands and woodlands on a UNESCO world biosphere reserve in the Kiskunsagi National Park in Hungary. Because of their protected environment and status, all three remaining species of Mangalica – the Swallow Belly, Red and Blonde – are free to take the year and a half it takes for them to mature, up to three times longer than industrial, commercial pigs.
Middle White Pig
There are more Giant Pandas than there are Middle Whites, making them one of the rarest pigs in the world. Originating in the mid-1800s in Yorkshire, England, the Middle White is small with a squashed snout, suitable for outdoor grazing. Our Middle Whites come from the Vaughan farm, a 400-year-old family farm in Herefordshire, England, where they grow to maturity in just five months. Their small size and petite joints have at times made them enormously popular from London to Japan, where they even have a statue devoted to this unique and highly prized pig.
English Longhorn Cattle
Prized for its naturally marbled and sweet beef, the Longhorn also produces famous cheeses like Stilton and Red Leicester. As far back as the 1700s, farmers in the far northern regions of England also valued the Longhorn for their creamy white horns, which could be crafted into anything from buttons to lamps. Hardy and resourceful, the Longhorns can live to an unusually old age while still breeding and producing good quality milk. Favored by royalty, this is the breed that invented the traditional English ‘roast beef’. Our Longhorns come from the 400-year-old Vaughan family farm in Herefordshire, England.
Hungarian Grey Longhorn Cattle
One of very few breeds closely related to prehistoric aurochs, the Hungarian Grey has existed for over a thousand years. Widely popular in the 1800s, the Grey’s physical attributes and wild nature almost ensured its extinction. Now, thanks to the same visionary reviving the Mangalica pigs, the Hungarian Greys are free to roam in their native habitat in the Kiskunsagi National Park in Hungary. Because they co-evolved with the vast wilderness of marshes and grasslands in the park, their revival as a species is integral to conserving the landscape. Their meat is lean, incredibly flavorful and nutritionally dense.
Manx Loaghtan Sheep
This striking breed, with multi-horns jutting helter-skelter out of its head has survived unchanged since the Iron Age. Isolated until the 18th century on the small Isle of Man in the Irish Sea, the Manx Loaghtan is one of the rarest and oldest sheep breeds in the world. Today, ours come from a family farm in Wiltshire, England that is dominated by primitive grasslands, some that have been ‘unimproved’ since the Middle Ages. The slow growing Manx Loaghtan thrives there and is allowed to mature for at least 18 months, grazing on rich pastures dotted by wild flora and fauna.
Thriving in one of the oldest farming communities in all of Europe, Herdwick sheep have been raised by a network of shepherds in England’s Lake District for over 1,000 years. Herdwick sheep are semi-wild and can survive nearly unsupervised in the Lake District’s rugged mountain terrain and extreme climate because of an unbroken knowledge of belonging passed from mother to lamb. Brought down to the lowlands only on certain occasions by an ancient communal rite and coordinated teamwork between the shepherds and their dogs, the Herdwick sheep feed nearly year round on native grasses, heathers and moss.
Hungarian Red Master
This slow-growing chicken is allowed to take double the time to reach maturity as most commercial, fast-growing factory breeds—even free-range and organic varieties of poultry. The Red Master, raised by the Barany family, one of the oldest poultry farming families in Hungary, is allowed to roam in both woodland and pasture, emulating the natural grazing habits of their ancient ancestor, the jungle fowl. Feeding on grass, soil and insects under open skies, the Red Master is supplemented by local grains and has a rich tasting meat high in Omega 3 fatty acids.
Wild Hereford Cattle
Geographically isolated from civilisation, Hereford cattle, roam wild over 7 million hectares of unbroken wilderness in the Channel Country of central Australia. For 5 generations a small group of families have sustained this rich biodiverse region through conservation grazing, bringing you perhaps the purest beef in the world. The Channel Country is the only place in the world where the river channels flow inland from periodic monsoon rainfall north of Australia. Untouched for millions of years, here in this ancient land Hereford cattle feast on over 250 different varieties of wild native plants, giving it’s beef unique terroir flavours that changes seasonally.
Originating in southern Ireland in the early 1800’s, the Dexter cattle is the smallest breed of cattle in the world. Perfect for small acreage, the Dexter is hardy, an efficient grazer and a multi-purpose breed. This native breed is one of the few remaining in Ireland and is now being revived in Tipperary by visionary Eavaun Carmody. The Dexter produces excellent butter and cheese and produces fine, high quality, ‘spider’ marbled beef.
Blue Grey Cattle
The distinctive, long, mottled, blue-grey hair of this unique cattle species actually comes from crossing two different breeds: the Whitebred Shorthorn (bull) and the Galloway (cow), linking the Blue Grey to the survival and popularity of both these unique breeds. Hornless, the Blue Grey produces high quality, succulent beef at two to three years of age. Reared around the high fells on the English-Scottish border around Hadrian’s Wall since the mid-19th century by an ancient network of farming families that still thrive today, the Blue Grey thrives on coarse grass varieties and rough pastures, unlike most cattle breeds.
Many of our heritage breeds were probably ‘developed’ rather than naturally-evolved by early farmers, but we don’t have the records of why they preferred specific characteristics over others. The Shorthorn, however, can be directly traced to a handful of breeders in northeast England in the late 1700s, near the farms that supply our Shorthorns today. Since then, two different strains have developed, one for superior milk and one for naturally marbled and extra-tender beef. Natural grazers with good longevity and an early finish, Shorthorn genetics have been used in developing over 40 different cattle breeds around the world.
Belted Galloway Cattle
A small-framed, hornless breed, the origins of the Belted Galloway are a bit obscure. Believed to originate in Scotland sometime between the 11th and 16th centuries, the Belted Galloway is adaptable to all kinds of climates due to its ability to shed their shaggy, coarse overcoat in warm weather. Because they have the ability to regulate their own temperature without adding a layer of fat, the Belted Galloway has exceptionally lean, naturally marbled, flavorful meat. Eating more plant varieties than any other breed, the Belted Galloway frequently scores first across all species in juiciness and flavour.