News from Garfield Farm
CAMPTON HILLS, IL: Garfield Farm Museum will hold its 25th Annual Rare Breeds Livestock & Poultry Show and Sale on Sunday May 22 from 11 am - 4 pm. The only show of its type held in Illinois, looks at the loss of genetic diversity amongst domestic animals that humans have depended upon for food, fiber, and work for hundreds of years. For many visitors to the show it is the first and perhaps last time in their lives they might ever see some of these highly endangered breeds.
In today’s market, very few breeds are used in modern farms. Those that are tend to have very small gene pools as artificial insemination makes it possible for one prized male animal to father thousands of offspring. This leads to a lack of genetic diversity. Genetic resistance or hardiness to disease might be absent in such a line. A disease could strike that could eliminate such a breed. Breed diversity is not only a novelty, it is a necessity.
In times of economic uncertainty like the one we are in, any threat to our food sources could be disastrous. Should a disease or other factor make the breeds currently used not viable, food would become harder and more expensive to come by. What genetic diversity does is provide the option of a different genetic strain that may not be affected by the same things as the modern commonplace strain. Should the currently used breed be effected the heritage breed may not.
There is also the matter of taste. Many of the currently used animals are used because they can grow to a desired size in a relatively short amount of time. Some older breeds may take longer to reach maturity, but they have a flavor to their meat or eggs that is missing in the genetically narrow market.
Practicality aside, these animals should be saved for the same reason as any other rare animal. These barn yard critters may not be as glamorous as a panda or eagle, but are very much part of our environment and heritage. Many of these animals were on a farm when our forefathers were. If one were to save objects from the past to preserve a glimpse of the past, then heritage livestock should be saved to help complete the picture. Breeders are invited to exhibit their animals at the museum with a chance to meet other breeders and prospective buyers. Pens, water, and bedding are provided by the museum just bring feed and any information, displays, products, demonstrations, or lectures related to the breeds being shown. There are no registration fees for exhibitors. Exhibitors must have appropriate health paperwork on their animals.
In addition to seeing the animals, visitors and exhibitors can tour the 1846 Teamster Inn and Tavern, watch demonstrations of sheep shearing, wool spinning, or enjoy refreshments from Inglenook Pantry. There is a $6 donation for adults and $3 for children 12 years and younger. Garfield Farm Museum is five miles west of Geneva, IL off ILL Route 38 on Garfield Road. The 370 acre museum is supported by donations and is the only surviving historically intact former 1840s Illinois prairie farmstead and teamster inn being restored as an 1840s working farm museum. For information call 630-584-8485 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.