About Our Herd
Cattle have been bred for centuries for their rich meat, nutritious milk, and ability to pull heavy loads. Their unique capacity to transform grass into protein is why they have become a vital component of human subsistence. However, their genetic make-up has changed drastically in the last century. As our species has industrialized and our population has grown, many breeds that have proven viable for large-scale agriculture have undergone single-trait selection. In this genetic selection process, a single feature of economic importance is identified in an animal, and that animal is then bred to pass on that trait to its progeny. Examples can be seen in the enormous udders of the Holstein and the prodigious musculature of the Angus.
At Century Harvest Farms, we take a very different approach to breeding cattle; focusing on strength and sustainability, not size and output. We use 100% triple-purpose, heritage cattle breeds. These are rare breeds that, for centuries, have been bred for their high quality meat and milk, as well as for their strength and docility as draft animals. Since these breeds have been bred for a variety of purposes, they have not undergone the single-trait selection process that has destroyed the heartiness and strength of so many wonderful breeds. Industrial agribusiness has clamored recklessly to supply the unrealistic demands of an unconscientious consumership. The resulting unsustainable breeding practices have, in less than a century, led to the diminution of many hearty characteristics that have taken thousands of generations to develop and centuries to cultivate. By taking a more holistic approach to breeding, we hope to preserve and proliferate these fundamental strengths in our cattle rendering our corner of the food system more secure and more sustainable.
Heritage Cattle Breeds
What are heritage breeds of cattle? When settlers came to North America, they brought many things with them to help them survive. As a vital component of subsistence, livestock was very commonly brought to the new world. Heritage breeds are the ancient breeds that came from Europe and the British Isles centuries ago.
Heritage Breeds have NOT undergone drastic genetic changes in the past century as a result of industrialization. Heritage breeds are known for their extreme hardiness, exemplary mothering skills, dual and triple purpose characteristics, moderate frame size, and their ability to thrive on pasture alone. They are much heartier, require less maintenance, and are much more sustainable breeds of cattle. These breeds do not require supplemental grain, antibiotics, hormones, or dewormers to maintain health and body condition.