Last week was Farming LIVE where we had a fabulous time sharing Forge Mill Farm and Sandwell Park Farm with you as it is not currently open to the public. The team are still working really hard there and are missing all of the visitors.
We were overwhelmed by the number of pictures of your animals that were sent in to us. It is clear that SANDWELL LOVES ANIMALS!
If you missed any of the action, you can find it on our Facebook page or in our past blogs on our website. There are some more facts below for you to enjoy too.
Sandwell Valley Country Park is a rare breed centre. Most of our livestock are endangered and nearly all of those are rarer than the giant panda.
We work closely with other farm parks and rare breed farmers across the UK to save these breeds from extinction.
Rare breeds tend to be really ancient types of farm animal that people see as no longer useful. As a nation we have spent a lot of time trying to breed animals that produce lots of milk or meat and that grow really quickly which means that the old breeds that are not suited to mass farming die out.
It’s up to us now to find uses for these breeds so they don’t die out forever.
The thing that might save them now is that people are becoming more interested in high welfare food and are prepared to pay a premium for it. The only way you can use these animals for food is by using traditional methods and keeping them in high welfare environments in quite low numbers over a long period of time. This happened to a breed of cattle called longhorns which were endangered but are not any more because their meat became popular with world renowned chefs and can now be found in the best Michelin starred restaurants! There is no WWF for rare breeds, and it seems a strange thing to say but we need to either eat more of them to keep the genetic pool diverse and to stop them from dying out or find other uses for them.
Some breeds have found other uses in conservation grazing – because they tend to be pickier and lighter-footed than intensive breeds they are excellent at grazing national parks and historic sites getting rid of weeds but not damaging the parts we want to preserve or improve.