Heritage Breeds

We’re absolutely convinced that looking at the photos on the Well Fed Farm feed will convert anyone to homesteading. Aaren, the mama behind the account, lives with her two teenage sons on a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where she raises and grows a wide variety of animals and produce and makes it all look oh so delicious. The following is an excerpt of a previous Instagram takeover.

cow in barn
cows in grass field

We have had chickens since the beginning. Then a herd of Nigerian Dwarf goats with a couple angoras. A mixed flock of sheep for fiber and meat, turkeys, guineas, a Norwegian Fjord draft pony, and of course hogs. We used to keep breeders for both the Ossabaw Island Hog and the Large Black.

Currently my streamlined focus and passion is our small herd of registered Dutch Belted dairy cattle. Our herd use to be the only registered one in the state here. This critically endangered breed is a medium sized, hardy, thrifty, sassy, long-lived one. These animals can thrive on good pasture alone. They usually calve with ease, are excellent mothers, and produce a delicious creamy milk with an easily digestible much smaller fat globule. They are generally docile, highly intelligent, and can definitely get a little smart with you… kinda like teenagers!

This breed dates back to the eighteenth century. Belted cattle were raised in Austria and Switzerland and later embraced in the Netherlands where they are still know as the Lakenvelder. They can be either black and white or the more rare “red” with a white belt. We have consciously decided to keep our animals with horns. Although one of our cows carries naturally polled genetics.

We practice daily rotational grazing using a “hot” poly-rope and step-in pigtail posts. In the winter they stay close to the barn in a designated “sacrifice” area where we feed them hay, minerals, and alfalfa pellets during the cold season while the pastures are dormant. I tend to get better at managing our pastures and grass farming as the years go by.

I do it all for the butter (I only half joke). Our first family cow was half Dutch Belted and sparked our interest in the breed. After much research and countless e-mails, I located two breeders up in Ohio and was placed on waiting lists. Around a year after that, on a cannonball run in some grueling late October weather that was blowing in, we made a run and returned with one pregnant heifer and two younger heifers. This was the fall of 2014. We have been building our herd from these three foundation females since utilizing AI for increased variety of genetics.

 

I usually run a small herdshare milk side hustle along with making our own yogurt, cheese, butter, and ghee. We also raise up several steer (for around three years) before we harvest them for meat. Skulls and hides get saved and cured/tanned… or at least that’s the plan. Currently I have several hides in a freezer on hold.

woman selfie with cow
cow field sunset

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