Heritage or Minor Breeds of Livestock at Historic Brattonsville
Historic Brattonsville is home to an award-winning Heritage Farm Program. Demonstrations of historical farming techniques, including plowing a field using a horse, and day-to-day activities are presented by costumed interpreters throughout the year on the Bratton Plantation.
The farm maintains representative numbers of livestock to interpret the important role they played in the life ways of historic peoples in the region. The farm currently keeps a flock of sheep, small numbers of poultry, cattle, pigs and horses.
The farm maintains a herd of about 15 Milking Devon cattle. Although the breed has been in America for some 300 years, it is now one of the rarest breeds of cattle in the United States. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy estimates that there are fewer than 500 Devon cattle left in North America. Historic Brattonsville has been breeding Devons since 1999.
Among the herd is a pair of oxen. Oxen are two steers (at least four years of age) trained to work. The current pair, Cain and Able, are approximately 15 years old.
Gulf Coast Sheep
Historic Brattonsville is home to a flock of rare Gulf Coast Sheep. The breed is listed as “critical” by the American Livestock Breed Conservancy because their worldwide numbers are fewer than two thousand. Brattonsville’s Heritage Breed Program is actively working to preserve this unique and important animal. Gulf Coast Sheep are a remnant population descended from Spanish sheep first brought to Florida in the 1500s. With nearly four centuries of free ranging the Gulf Coast region, and strong natural selection, they have developed a great tolerance to heat and humidity and a strong immunity to parasites. Every spring Historic Brattonsville’s ewes have lambs that have been sold to other museums and breeders throughout the United States.
Ossabaw Island Hogs
Recently Historic Brattonsville acquired new Ossabaw Island hogs. The hogs of Ossabaw Island (an island off the coast of Georgia) are descendants of Spanish pigs brought to the New World in the 1500s. Offspring of Historic Brattonsville’s pigs have been distributed across the United States to various historic sites and breeders.
The site maintains a flock of rare Dominique and staff is currently working to raise a flock of Red Dorkings.
The Dominique was developed from chickens introduced during the early settlement of New England. By the mid 19th century they were widely distributed across the Eastern half of the United States. They are hardy breed, and do well on open range as well as in confinement. The Dominique is a medium-sized bird with distinctive black and white striping over the entire body. They are generally calm, easy to work with and produce brown eggs. Currently the farm staff at Historic Brattonsville is working to raise a flock of Red Dorkings, an extremely rare breed of chickens that were brought to the American Colonies from England. They are characterized by their red and black plumage, large standing combs and the unique fifth “toe” on their feet. Five-toed chickens can be traced back to ancient Rome. They are a large bodied, short legged bird with white skin and Red Dorkings lay small white eggs.