Monday, June 18, 2012

Heritage Beef for sale in Western Pennsylvania

I am a fan of traditional roasts, cooked slow with carrots, turnips, and potatoes. In my book, that beats a steak any day.  This fellow looks like he is hiding some fine roasts under that red coat. 
I am pleased to announce that our friends from Auburn Meadow Farm have beef for sale from their rare and heritage breed Milking Devon Cattle.

On the surface, eating rare cattle might not seem like a good idea, but its actually the best thing for the breed. Rare livestock were bred for a purpose, whether milk, meat, eggs, draft or wool. If rare breeds are only kept as part of petting zoos, or menageries to satisfy their owners' ego, they will remain rare. If rare breeds can find an economic niche related to their original purpose, they will recover. I think the American Dexter Cattle Association is a good example of this. Twenty years ago, Dexters were  endangered and hard to find. At present there are  4 farms I know of with Dexters just within 15 miles of me. Part of the reason is the promotion of the Dexter as a practical cow for direct sales of tasty beef. As a consequence, the Dexter has grown in numbers from endangered to recovering status.
Rare breeds also offer a chance to create a resilient agriculture adapted to local conditions. Auburn Meadow Farm lies only a few miles form us, and Western Pennsylvania is a good climate for growing British cool season grasses. Our summers are relatively cool and we get precipitation from both the Great Lakes and the upper Ohio River Valley. A climate that grows British Grasses well, should naturally be a climate for traditional British Cattle and both Dexters and Milking Devons are a good choice for this area.

 Milking Devons have died out in England, where they originated. They survived in New England  mostly because of Ox Teamsters dedicated to the breed. They are now about as rare as Kerry Cattle, and most people are likely to only see one at a farm museum like Sturbridge Village. If they recover, it will because dedicated breeders and educated consumers got together over some good meat.

I saw the price list and Auburn Meadow is asking a reasonable price for their beef bought in bulk. If I did not have parts of our own three steers and a lamb in the freezers I know where I would be buying my meat.

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