Heritage Breeds Conservation

The Farm's efforts are focused on conservation as well as fiber production. Most of the animals on the farm are listed on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy as Threatened or Critical. The animals at Pip & Arrow represent heritage strains from farms all over the Southeast and MidWest. (Contact details for many of these farms can be found on the Links page.)

Heritage barnyard breeds are often direct descendants of the animals brought to America by Spanish explorers and British colonialists. Flocks were left here to fend for themselves on islands and isolated shorelines until the next convoy arrived and as such they are hardy, parasite-resistant, and well-adapted to our climate. They are also efficient foragers and grazers and our animals are often recruited from the barnyard to help in our forest restoration efforts.

The following are breeds currently represented at Pip & Arrow Farm:

Image via Grit Magazine

Gulf Coast Native Sheep

Conservation Status: Critical

Origin: USA

Produces: Wool, Meat

Gulf Coast sheep were used across the Southeast by Spanish missionaries, Native Americans, and European settlers as far north as the Carolinas. Spanish sheep in the Southeast were shaped primarily by natural selection, becoming well adapted to the heat and humidity of the environment. These sheep fit their challenging environment so well that for centuries they were the only sheep to be found in the deep South, providing wool and meat for home production. (The Livestock Conservancy)

Shetland Sheep

Conservation Status: Recovering

Origin: Shetland Islands

Produces: Wool, Meat

The Shetland breed is a small, active sheep capable of fending off predators but also generally friendly with it's handlers. It is a hardy primitive breed with a soft fleece that comes in a wide variety of colors and can be removed by hand when the sheep begins to shed in the Spring.

American Rabbit (Blue)

Conservation Status: Threatened

Origin: USA

Produces: Meat, Fur

Unique to North America, the American Rabbit was once a popular homesteading breed. It is now the fifth rarest breed of domestic rabbit in the country. Large and docile, the American was prized for its soft fur, the blue variety often considered the deepest blue of any rabbit breed.

French Angora Rabbit

Conservation Status: Stable, Not Threatened

Origin: France, North American lines differ greatly

Produces: Wool, Meat

The French Angora is a large, docile rabbit originally bred as a dual-purpose animal. They provided their owners with not only a warm and luxurious wool, but also meat for the table. This made the French Angora an excellent homesteading breed, and it continues to be a popular choice among farmers and fanciers alike.

Orpington (Buff, Black, and Lavender)

Conservation Status: Recovering

Origin: England

Produces: Meat, Eggs

A beautiful and friendly chicken, the Orpington is often described as the Golden Retriever of the chicken world. They were developed in England from crosses with American breeds by William Cook and were an immediate success. They can grow quickly and are excellent layers and mothers. Our Buffs came from the chicken farm down the road and the local feed store, while our Blacks and Lavenders came from Chicken Scratch Poultry, Greenfire Farms, and Hink JC.

Cotton Patch Geese

Conservation Status: Critical

Origin: USA

Use: Weeding, Guardian, Meat, Fat, Down

These geese were used to weed cotton and corn fields in the Southeast up until the 1950s. Cotton Patch geese are remembered in the rural south for helping many farmers and their families survive the Great Depression by providing a good source of meat, eggs, and grease. The are not aggressive, easy to work around, and do well on little to no input. Our geese come from Worth It Farms and Tom Walker.