Learn about the rare breeds

Rare Breeds

All of the breeds here at the Rare Breeds Centre have a fascinating history, from Eastern Europe to the American plains, from medieval knights to George Washington, our breeds have seen it all.

 

Bagot goats 

These goats were probably brought back to England by returning Crusaders, and likely trace their ancestry to goats of the Rhone valley. The goats were said to have been given to John Bagot of Blithfield by King Richard II of England to commemorate the good hunting the King had enjoyed at Blithfield, where even today it lives a semi-wild existence. The rare breed centre has thirteen females and two male bagot goats. The bagot goat is medium sized with horns and long flowing black and white hair. It is used as a parkland breed and for conservation grazing.

Golden Guernsey goats 

Originally from Guernsey in the Channel Islands, the Golden Guernsey is a recognized dairy breed smaller than many British breeds. As the name suggests , they range in colour from a light blonde to a dark bronze. They also have a quiet and docile temperament. 

Leicester longwool sheep

Originally bred by pioneering 18th Century farmer Robert Bakewell, the Leicester Longwool is a large-framed, dual-purpose sheep carrying a heavy long-stapled fleece. It's also a sturdy, efficient, and adaptable breed that can thrive in a wide variety of climatic conditions. American founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both had large flocks of sheep, and took pains to bring in good Leicester rams from England to improve their stock. 

Greyface Dartmoor sheep

It is thought that sheep have been a part of the Dartmoor landscape since prehistoric times, in fact, some say that the native Dartmoor breeds were descended from the Iron Age Soay sheep. Greyfaces are deep-bodied and short-legged with woolly hind legs and head. The fleece was traditionally used in the manufacture of blankets, carpets, cloth and serge. As mothers, the Greyface ewes are considered docile and good rearers with excellent milk yields, which are easily capable of rearing twins. This breed was known for its ability to survive and reproduce in adverse weather conditions, and was the best suited breed to utilise hill and mountain grazing. The rare breed centre has five Greyface Dartmoor ewes.

Middle White pigs
 
Middle whites originated in the 1850's when Large and Small whites were crossed. In the first half of the 20th century the breed became known as "The London Porker" as there was a high demand for the meat in the capital. They are a medium sized docile breed with a snub nose and large prick ears. They are a very hardy breed but can struggle in extreme heat or cold. Their average litter size is around 9 piglets per sow.

 

Exmoor pony

The Exmoor pony is a horse breed native to the British Isles, where some still roam in a semi-wild existence on Exmoor, a large area of moorland in Devon and Somerset in southwest England. They are hardy and used for many activities, contributing to the conservation and management of several natural pasture habitats. Some people claim that the breed may be over 100,000 years old, and the ponies were first mentioned in Exmoor in 1086. The breed nearly became extinct following World War II. Today, our Exmoor pony called Cookie shares his field with Dylan the Donkey.

Derbyshire redcap chickens

Redcaps are a native English bird that have been written about since at least the early 19th century. Derbyshire Redcaps were common on British farms until the middle of the 20th century, particularly around the southern Pennines. The name "redcap" comes from its unusually large comb. 

Scots grey chickens

The Scots Grey, originally called the Scotch Grey, is a breed of chicken originating in Scotland and has been known in their country since the 16th century. It is so named because of its striped plumage, which is called either Barred or Cuckoo by poultry enthusiasts. The Scots Grey's feathers have a less distinct pattern with a steel-grey base. Scots Greys are also relatively heavy chickens.

Orpingtons chickens
 
Orpingtons are named after a town in Kent where they originate from. The Buff colouration that our group have was developed in 1894. They are a large breed with a gentle, friendly and docile nature and the hens make good mothers. They are a hardy breed but as most of their size is due to their thick layer of feathers they can become waterlogged in wet weather.
 
Araucana chickens
 
Araucanas are a hardy breed with a good resistance to disease. The blue colouring that ours have is the most common colouration of the breed though other variations do exist. They are very good flyers so their wings must be kept clipped or they must be kept in an enclosed run. Araucanas lay blue/green coloured eggs.
 
Cream Legbar chickens
 
Cream Legbars are a hardy and active breed. They are a relatively new breed, only being recognised in 1958. The males have a cream neck and saddle marking with a grey chest, legs and wings. Females have cream necks, salmon chests and a small feathered crest behind their comb, they are rarely broody. Cream Legbars lay blue, green or olive coloured eggs which are in high demand. They are one of very few breeds of chicken that are auto-sexing. This means that when the chicks hatch it is easy to tell males and females apart. Females have distinct dark and light stripes down their body whereas males are lighter all over and have a yellow spot on their heads.
 
Light Sussex chickens
 
The Sussex chicken is a large gentle and docile breed. During the first half of the 20th Century the Light Sussex was one of the most commercially important breeds. Since then more modern hybrids have taken over. They have a broad flat back and a stocky appearance and are a striking black and white colour.
 
Marsh Daisy chickens
Marsh Daisy's are hardy and love to forage for food. They are an active and upright bird. The male has striking white ear lobes and a rose comb. Rose combs, the red part on top of their head, lay flat on the head and are covered in round knobbles.
 
Narragansett turkeys
Narragansett turkeys are known for their good maternal instincts and calm disposition. The breed is mainly used for meat and showing. They have dark legs and feet and brown eyes. Mature males weigh around 14.9 kg (33lb) and mature hens weigh around 10.4 kg (23lb).
 
Pied / Crollwitzer  turkeys
Pied turkey breed is thought to date back to the 1700's. They are a very ornamental bird that are popular in the poultry showing circle. Mature males can weigh up to 10kg (22lb) and mature females 5.4kg (12lb). Their black and white pied marking begin to appear around 6-8 weeks of age.
 
Sebastapol geese
Sebastopol geese occur in two main feather types, the flat and the curled feather varieties. Those with curly feathers are unable to fly. Males can range from 12-16 lbs and females from 10-14 lbs. They can be raised for meat but most are kept for ornamental purposes, which is why the breed is in decline.