Forge Mill Farm is a Registered Rare Breeds Centre, which means that we are members of an organisation helping to preserve old breeds of farm animals.
All of the modern breeds used on commercial farms have been bred to provide milk, or meat.
Most of the animals we keep were bred for both reasons, instead of being specialised like today’s animals. Our cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry are all doing their bit to keep the old breeds alive, giving visitors the chance to see what life was like on farms before machinery came along.
We now have traditional Hereford cattle, as they have become endangered and only around 500 breeding cows are left. Our sheep are Shropshires, a breed developed on the Staffordshire/Shropshire border and originally kept on upland areas such as Cannock Chase and the Long Mynd. We only keep one breed of pig at the moment, Tamworths, believed to be the purest breed of British pig and descended from wild boar. You may remember the two pigs which became famous when they escaped from an abattoir, an event which resulted in them becoming featured in a film. These two were not true Tamworths, but Iron Age pigs, a cross between Tamworths and Wild Boar which was first developed for an experimental archaeology project several years ago.
Our poultry are also rare and are all traditional breeds which were in widespread use until the development of hybrid poultry produced for eggs or meat.
Strange as it may sound, the best way to preserve rare breeds is to create a demand for their meat. Longhorn cattle, one of the successes of the Rare Breeds movement, are now off the endangered list partly because their meat has become popular again. You can do your part to conserve endangered breeds of farm animal by looking out for their meat in restaurants.