Garfield Farm Heading

Garfield Farm home page | News Index

News from Garfield Farm

Rare Breeds Livestock & Poultry Show May 19th

CAMPTON HILLS, IL: Owners of rare breeds of livestock and poultry will display their animals at the 33rd Annual Rare Breeds Show on Sunday May 19 from 11 am until 4 pm. This is the longest running show in the Midwest that has featured rare breeds of farm and working animals. Members of the national organization, the Livestock Conservancy, have participated every year.

The show includes sheep shearing, demonstrations of wool processing, lectures, sales of animal products, a chance to talk with breeders and owners, tours of the 1846 brick inn and more. The event focuses on the loss of genetic diversity amongst domestic animals that historically provided food, fiber or work for humankind. As modern production wants only the most profitable, many breeds are endanger of forever disappearing. The great strides in genetics makes the loss of these genes a true tragedy and waste of centuries of selective breeding.

As wild animals were captured and raised by humans, the ones that became tame over generations and provided important needs for survival became our present day domesticated animals. Through the centuries as change occurred, animal breeding favored those that met the new challenges. The incredible rate of change today be it economic, nutritional, political, environmental, or pathogenic calls for the greatest pool of genes possible to select from to meet future change.

In addition to the practicality of preserving these breeds, they also offer great satisfaction to their owners and animal enthusiasts who admire the various breeds’ beauty, conformation, temperament, abilities or novelty of variety. The Rare Breeds Show is a great way to discover and marvel at the unexpected like the “Oreo cookie” cattle, the Dutch Belted dairy or Belted Galloway beef cattle. With a white belt around their mid sections the black head and tail end is surprising as seeing one’s first wild zebra.

The weather conditions around the Great Lake states often determines which breeders feel comfortable making the trip to the show during the midst of planting season and school graduations. The return visit by the Lippitt Morgan Horse Registry and the stallion, The Red, will bring the history of Vermont to this Illinois prairie farmstead just as the Garfields hailed from the Green Mountain State. In fact, Figure, a bay colt born in 1789 and owned by Vermonter Justin Morgan was born just 8 years before Timothy Garfield. Figure was the start of the Morgan horse line. Lippitt Morgans are more like the early Morgan horses that doubled as riding, driving, and draft animals just as Old Time Scotch Collie dogs differ distinctly from the Collie Shepherds of today. The Myer and Siegrist families will be bringing both from Missouri.

Minnesota will be represented at the show by the Shultz family with their Highland cattle and Champagne and Crème d’Argent, and Argenté Brun rabbits. Though thought of as pets, these rabbits were developed in 1870s France for fur and the Crème developed in America for meat. Highland cattle originated in Scotland and with their shaggy hair coat and long horns make a most impressive looking breed. Their ability to do well just foraging, eating grasses and weeds has actually helped to improve pastures.

Cotswold, Jacobs, Katahdin, Merino, Montadale, Romney, Teeswater, and Wensleydale sheep breeds will be represented. American Guinea Hogs and Red Wattle and modern Berkshire pigs will fascinate younger visitors with their unexpected bursts of energy followed by complete collapse into coma-like naps. Peter Dordal offers a chance for young visitors to sit astride his Morgan mare, Grace, usually accompanied by a Hackney pony. IF the mud dries up Bruce Sims of Long Eared Livery Service will bring his mules, which are a cross between a horse breed and a donkey breed.

In addition to the Dutch belted calf, Martha and her mother Winifred Hoffman who have BestYet A.I. Sires will bring a traditional milking shorthorn calf that is a dual-purpose breed producing ample milk but also fattens well on grass for meat. The museum’s Milking Devon oxen represent a historic New England breed first brought in the 1620s from Devonshire, England. This breed is very rare with less than 1200 registered female Devons.

Feathered friends will include the museum’s rare Black Java chickens as well as Clyde Grover’s French Wheaton Marans. Magpie and Muscovy ducks, quail, Pilgrim geese, and Narragansett turkeys round out this group. As long as the Anatolian sheep dogs do not view them as threat, the Silver Fox and American Chinchilla rabbits should be fairly relaxed. Anatolians were developed to guard flocks of sheep.

For information contact Garfield Farm Museum at Box 403 LaFox, IL 60147, call 630 584-8485 or e-mail There is a $6 donation for adults and $3 for children under 13 years of age. Refreshments by Inglenook Pantry will be available. Garfield Farm Museum is five miles west of Geneva, IL of ILL Rt. 38 on Garfield Road. The 375-acre site is being restored as an 1840s living history farm and inn museum.