Heritage Breeds Week

Date:
May 18 - 24, 2024

Time: 
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

This week's special activities are free with general admission.

Celebrate Heritage Breeds Week with us!

Participate in exciting activities, watch fascinating demonstrations, learn about Conner Prairie's efforts to preserve heritage breeds and discover what makes these rare animals so special. Meet and Greet with animals all across the grounds. Learn about how livestock has changed throughout the years and how the livestock of the past are important for us today!

Daily Schedule

All Day – Sheep to Scarf — Golden Eagle Barn

All Day – Free Range Egg Hunt — Golden Eagle Barn

All Day – Heritage Breeds Activities — Featherston Barn

All Day – Art with Heart —The Junction

All Day — Act It Out Theater — Treetop Amphitheater

All Day – Rabbit Compost Make & Take (free) — Featherston Barn

All Day – Mayor of Animal Encounters Voting — Animal Encounters

All Day — Prairie Provisions Shop — Featherston Barn

10 a.m. — 12 p.m. – Dairy Taste Test — Featherston Barn

10:30 a.m. — 11:30 p.m. and 2 — 3 p.m. – Soap Make & take ($5) — Lenape Indian Camp

11 a.m. – Story Time — Featherston Barn

11:30 a.m. – Creature Feature: Meet the Candidates — Campbell Barn

1 p.m. – Sheep Shearing — Golden Eagle Barn

1 p.m. – Wool Dryer Ball Make & Take ($5) — Golden Eagle Barn

1 – 4 p.m. – Barnyard Brushstrokes Make & Take ($10) — By Animal Encounters

2 p.m. – Ox Driving Demonstration — Prairietown

3 p.m. – Story Time — Featherston Barn


Happening all week:

Digital Scavenger Hunt — locations throughout the grounds

Mayor of Animal Encounters — Animal Encounters Barn

  • Guests can submit their vote for the Mayor of Animal Encounters on our voting board

All Day – Sheep to Scarf — Golden Eagle Barn

All Day – Free Range Egg Hunt — Golden Eagle Barn

All Day – Heritage Breeds Activities — Featherston Barn

All Day – Art with Heart – The Junction

All day – Act It Out Theater – Treetop Ampitheater

All Day – Mayor of Animal Encounters Voting — Animal Encounters

All Day – Prairie Provisions Shop – Featherston Barn

10 a.m. – Splish Splash! Ducks Taking a Bath — Featherston Barn

10:30 – 11:30 a.m. and 2 - 3 p.m. – Soap Make & Take ($5) — Lenape Indian Camp

11 a.m. – Story Time — Featherston Barn

11:30 a.m. – Creature Feature: Meet the Candidates — Campbell Barn

1 p.m. – Slop the Hogs — The Junction/Bank Barn

1 – 4 p.m. – Barnyard Brushstrokes Make & Take ($10) — Candle Shed

2 p.m. – Ox Driving Demonstration — Prairietown

3 p.m. – Story Time — Featherston Barn


Happening all week:

Digital Scavenger Hunt — locations throughout the grounds

Mayor of Animal Encounters — Animal Encounters Barn

  • Guests can submit their vote for the Mayor of Animal Encounters on our voting board

10:30 a.m.– Story Time — Featherston Barn

11 a.m. – Creature Feature — Campbell Barn

1 – 4 p.m. – Farm Activities — Prairietown

3 p.m. – Story Time — Featherston Barn


Happening all week:

Digital Scavenger Hunt — locations throughout the grounds

Mayor of Animal Encounters — Animal Encounters Barn

  • Guests can submit their vote for the Mayor of Animal Encounters on our voting board

10:30 a.m.– Story Time — Featherston Barn

11 a.m. – Creature Feature — Campbell Barn

1 – 4 p.m. – Farm Activities — Prairietown

3 p.m. – Story Time — Featherston Barn


Happening all week:

Digital Scavenger Hunt — locations throughout the grounds

Mayor of Animal Encounters — Animal Encounters Barn

  • Guests can submit their vote for the Mayor of Animal Encounters on our voting board

10:30 a.m.– Story Time — Featherston Barn

11 a.m. – Creature Feature — Campbell Barn

1 – 4 p.m. – Farm Activities — Prairietown

3 p.m. – Story Time — Featherston Barn


Happening all week:

Digital Scavenger Hunt — locations throughout the grounds

Mayor of Animal Encounters — Animal Encounters Barn

  • Guests can submit their vote for the Mayor of Animal Encounters on our voting board

10:30 a.m.– Story Time — Featherston Barn

11 a.m. – Creature Feature: Goats — Campbell Barn

1 – 4 p.m. – Farm Activities — Prairietown

3 p.m. – Story Time — Featherston Barn


Happening all week:

Digital Scavenger Hunt — locations throughout the grounds

Mayor of Animal Encounters — Animal Encounters Barn

  • Guests can submit their vote for the Mayor of Animal Encounters on our voting board

All Day – Sheep to Scarf — Golden Eagle Barn

All Day – Free Range Egg Hunt — Golden Eagle Barn

All Day – Heritage Breeds Activities — Featherston Barn

All Day – Art with Heart —The Junction

All Day — Act It Out Theater — Treetop Amphitheater

All Day – Rabbit Compost Make & Take (free) — Featherston Barn

All Day – Mayor of Animal Encounters Voting — Animal Encounters

All Day — Prairie Provisions Shop — Featherston Barn

10 a.m. — 12 p.m. – Dairy Taste Test — Featherston Barn

10:30 a.m. — 11:30 p.m. and 2 — 3 p.m. – Soap Make & take ($5) — Lenape Indian Camp

11 a.m. – Story Time — Featherston Barn

11:30 a.m. – Creature Feature: Meet the Candidates — Campbell Barn

1 p.m. – Sheep Shearing — Golden Eagle Barn

1 p.m. – Wool Dryer Ball Make & Take ($5) — Golden Eagle Barn

1 – 4 p.m. – Barnyard Brushstrokes Make & Take ($10) — By Animal Encounters

2 p.m. – Ox Driving Demonstration — Prairietown

3 p.m. – Story Time — Featherston Barn


Happening all week:

Digital Scavenger Hunt — locations throughout the grounds

Mayor of Animal Encounters — Animal Encounters Barn

  • Guests can submit their vote for the Mayor of Animal Encounters on our voting board

All Day – Sheep to Scarf — Golden Eagle Barn

All Day – Free Range Egg Hunt — Golden Eagle Barn

All Day – Heritage Breeds Activities — Featherston Barn

All Day – Art with Heart – The Junction

All day – Act It Out Theater – Treetop Ampitheater

All Day – Mayor of Animal Encounters Voting — Animal Encounters

All Day – Prairie Provisions Shop – Featherston Barn

10 a.m. – Splish Splash! Ducks Taking a Bath — Featherston Barn

10:30 – 11:30 a.m. and 2 - 3 p.m. – Soap Make & Take ($5) — Lenape Indian Camp

11 a.m. – Story Time — Featherston Barn

11:30 a.m. – Creature Feature: Meet the Candidates — Campbell Barn

1 p.m. – Slop the Hogs — The Junction/Bank Barn

1 – 4 p.m. – Barnyard Brushstrokes Make & Take ($10) — Candle Shed

2 p.m. – Ox Driving Demonstration — Prairietown

3 p.m. – Story Time — Featherston Barn


Happening all week:

Digital Scavenger Hunt — locations throughout the grounds

Mayor of Animal Encounters — Animal Encounters Barn

  • Guests can submit their vote for the Mayor of Animal Encounters on our voting board

10:30 a.m.– Story Time — Featherston Barn

11 a.m. – Creature Feature — Campbell Barn

1 – 4 p.m. – Farm Activities — Prairietown

3 p.m. – Story Time — Featherston Barn


Happening all week:

Digital Scavenger Hunt — locations throughout the grounds

Mayor of Animal Encounters — Animal Encounters Barn

  • Guests can submit their vote for the Mayor of Animal Encounters on our voting board

10:30 a.m.– Story Time — Featherston Barn

11 a.m. – Creature Feature — Campbell Barn

1 – 4 p.m. – Farm Activities — Prairietown

3 p.m. – Story Time — Featherston Barn


Happening all week:

Digital Scavenger Hunt — locations throughout the grounds

Mayor of Animal Encounters — Animal Encounters Barn

  • Guests can submit their vote for the Mayor of Animal Encounters on our voting board

10:30 a.m.– Story Time — Featherston Barn

11 a.m. – Creature Feature — Campbell Barn

1 – 4 p.m. – Farm Activities — Prairietown

3 p.m. – Story Time — Featherston Barn


Happening all week:

Digital Scavenger Hunt — locations throughout the grounds

Mayor of Animal Encounters — Animal Encounters Barn

  • Guests can submit their vote for the Mayor of Animal Encounters on our voting board

10:30 a.m.– Story Time — Featherston Barn

11 a.m. – Creature Feature: Goats — Campbell Barn

1 – 4 p.m. – Farm Activities — Prairietown

3 p.m. – Story Time — Featherston Barn


Happening all week:

Digital Scavenger Hunt — locations throughout the grounds

Mayor of Animal Encounters — Animal Encounters Barn

  • Guests can submit their vote for the Mayor of Animal Encounters on our voting board

Learn More About Heritage Breeds

Meet our Heritage Breeds

English Longhorn Cattle

10.19.cp (22 Of 28)
Basic Information

Origin: England
Introduced to USA: 1600s, 1990s
Uses: Meat, Milk, Draft Power
CPL Status: Not Listed, but critically endangered in the U.S.

Reintroduction

At some point in history, English Longhorns went extinct in North America and were only reintroduced in the 1990s. Even today, there are fewer than 100 longhorns in the U.S.

Selective Breeding

Robert Bakewell, the father of modern day breed improvement, used his methods to make the "Dishley Longhorn," nicknamed for Bakewell's home, the predominant cattle breed for a short time during the 1700s.

Horned cattle were preferred in 1836 as they could more easily protect themselves from predators while free ranging.

Important Facts
  • Their characteristic long horns were often crafted into "poor man's glass" or other household items such as buttons, cups, lamps or cutlery, making the longhorns even more useful to early settlers.
  • Conner Prairie is one of the only herds with registered longhorns in the U.S. Because the breed does not have an association in the states, all the cattle have to be registered through the Longhorn Cattle Society in England.
  • Many people often mistake these cattle for Texas Longhorns, but there's no relation between the breeds. Texas Longhorns descend from Spanish stock and have horns that frown out and away from their head rather than curving down around their face.
10.19.cp (3 Of 13)

English Longhorn Cattle

10.19.cp (22 Of 28)
Basic Information

Origin: England
Introduced to USA: 1600s, 1990s
Uses: Meat, Milk, Draft Power
CPL Status: Not Listed, but critically endangered in the U.S.

Reintroduction

At some point in history, English Longhorns went extinct in North America and were only reintroduced in the 1990s. Even today, there are fewer than 100 longhorns in the U.S.

Selective Breeding

Robert Bakewell, the father of modern day breed improvement, used his methods to make the "Dishley Longhorn," nicknamed for Bakewell's home, the predominant cattle breed for a short time during the 1700s.

10.19.cp (3 Of 13)

Horned cattle were preferred in 1836 as they could more easily protect themselves from predators while free ranging.

Important Facts
  • Their characteristic long horns were often crafted into "poor man's glass" or other household items such as buttons, cups, lamps or cutlery, making the longhorns even more useful to early settlers.
  • Conner Prairie is one of the only herds with registered longhorns in the U.S. Because the breed does not have an association in the states, all the cattle have to be registered through the Longhorn Cattle Society in England.
  • Many people often mistake these cattle for Texas Longhorns, but there's no relation between the breeds. Texas Longhorns descend from Spanish stock and have horns that frown out and away from their head rather than curving down around their face.

Ossabaw Hogs

Photograph of Ossabaw hogs in the winter
Basic Information

Origin: USA
Introduced to USA: 1500s
Uses: Meat, Lard
CPL Status: Critical

Genetic Mystery

Although it's agreed that Spanish explorers were responsible for releasing hogs on Ossabaw Island, the hogs are not necessarily Spanish in origin as genetic analysis shows Asian influence.

Isolated Population

While this breed was not historically in Indiana, its centuries-long isolation on Ossabaw Island makes them the closest genetic representative of stock brought over by the Spanish that would have been available at the time.

Early Indiana farmers found they could turn more profit if they fed their excess corn to fatten their hogs before market.

Important Facts
  • Historically. most hogs in America were once lard type. Lard enhances the flavor of the meat, but it is also a versatile substance as it can be used as a cooking fat, lubricant, preservative for eggs, and for many other purposes.
  • Because of the challenging island climate, Ossabaws have adapted to store large amounts of fat for times of food scarcity. This mechanism functions like non-insulin dependent diabetes in humans.
  • These hogs are smaller than average hogs, partially due to insular dwarfism caused by their limited environmental range on the island. This effect reverses in hogs raised on the mainland, making new generations slightly larger than their predecessors.
Ossabaw pig

Ossabaw Hogs

Photograph of Ossabaw hogs in the winter
Basic Information

Origin: USA
Introduced to USA: 1500s
Uses: Meat, Lard
CPL Status: Critical

Genetic Mystery

Although it's agreed that Spanish explorers were responsible for releasing hogs on Ossabaw Island, the hogs are not necessarily Spanish in origin as genetic analysis shows Asian influence.

Isolated Population

While this breed was not historically in Indiana, its centuries-long isolation on Ossabaw Island makes them the closest genetic representative of stock brought over by the Spanish that would have been available at the time.

Ossabaw pig

Early Indiana farmers found they could turn more profit if they fed their excess corn to fatten their hogs before market.

Important Facts
  • Historically. most hogs in America were once lard type. Lard enhances the flavor of the meat, but it is also a versatile substance as it can be used as a cooking fat, lubricant, preservative for eggs, and for many other purposes.
  • Because of the challenging island climate, Ossabaws have adapted to store large amounts of fat for times of food scarcity. This mechanism functions like non-insulin dependent diabetes in humans.
  • These hogs are smaller than average hogs, partially due to insular dwarfism caused by their limited environmental range on the island. This effect reverses in hogs raised on the mainland, making new generations slightly larger than their predecessors.

Arapawa Goats

Arapawa goat
Basic Information

Origin: New Zealand
Introduced to USA: 1994
Uses: Meat, Milk
CPL Status: Critical

Genetic Mystery

Although James Cook introduced the goats to Arapawa Island, their exact origin is still unknown. The Old English goat is though to be their ancestor; however, recent genetic studies link them to an unknown South African origin.

Natural Selection

While living feral on Arapawa Island, the breed adapted to the harsh climate and, as a result, are more hardy, self-sustaining and disease-resistant than most modern-day goats that have been selectively bred for production.

Not only can goats provide food products, they are also adept browsers and are excellent at clearing underbrush.

Important Facts
  • Arapawas were at risk of going extinct in the 1970s when an eradication program was initiated after it was deemed that the goats posed an ecological threat to the New Zealand island's biodiversity. Luckily, and island resident saw their value and saved a small population through the foundation of the Arapawa Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • With approximately 20+, Conner Prairie ranks among the top five of the largest active breeding herds in the country.
  • Arapawa bear a striking resemblance to the Old English Milch Goat, a now extinct breed of goat common among early English settlers. This style of goat fell out of favor in the 1900s as Swiss dairy breeds known for their high milk production out-competed them.
Animal Encounters - Arapawa Goats
Learn more about the impact of Arapawa goats through our blog.

Arapawa Goats

Arapawa goat
Basic Information

Origin: New Zealand
Introduced to USA: 1994
Uses: Meat, Milk
CPL Status: Critical

Genetic Mystery

Although James Cook introduced the goats to Arapawa Island, their exact origin is still unknown. The Old English goat is though to be their ancestor; however, recent genetic studies link them to an unknown South African origin.

Natural Selection

While living feral on Arapawa Island, the breed adapted to the harsh climate and, as a result, are more hardy, self-sustaining and disease-resistant than most modern-day goats that have been selectively bred for production.

Animal Encounters - Arapawa Goats

Not only can goats provide food products, they are also adept browsers and are excellent at clearing underbrush.

Important Facts
  • Arapawas were at risk of going extinct in the 1970s when an eradication program was initiated after it was deemed that the goats posed an ecological threat to the New Zealand island's biodiversity. Luckily, and island resident saw their value and saved a small population through the foundation of the Arapawa Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • With approximately 20+, Conner Prairie ranks among the top five of the largest active breeding herds in the country.
  • Arapawa bear a striking resemblance to the Old English Milch Goat, a now extinct breed of goat common among early English settlers. This style of goat fell out of favor in the 1900s as Swiss dairy breeds known for their high milk production out-competed them.
Learn more about the impact of Arapawa goats through our blog.

Tunis Sheep

Tunis Sheep running
Basic Information

Origin: USA
Introduced to USA: 1700s
Uses: Meat, Fiber
CPL Status: Watch

Uniquely American

The breed was developed after the Bey of Tunis in North Africa gifted George Washington with sheep. These sheep were crossed with local American stock to develop one of North America's first unique livestock breeds.

Founding Fathers

Records show that many big names and agricultural leader in the Revolutionary world kept these sheep on their farms including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Richard Peters and George Washington Custis.

Wool in the early 1800s could be cheaply shipped to eastern markets such as Boston, where it fetched up to fifty cents a pound.

Important Facts
  • Tunis sheep almost went extinct during the Civil War due to fighting and the soldiers' need for food, but one farm in South Carolina hid away a flock on their land. After the war, the breed made its way to the Great Lakes region where it began its recovery.
  • These sheep have a medium-grade cream-colored wool with a three to five inch staple. One sheep can produce anywhere form seven to twelve pounds annually.
  • Because of their North African influence, Tunis sheep are more tolerant of warm, humid climates. They are also known for their disease resistance and grazing ability which has made them popular in the sustainable agriculture movement.
Tunis sheep

Tunis Sheep

Tunis Sheep running
Basic Information

Origin: USA
Introduced to USA: 1700s
Uses: Meat, Fiber
CPL Status: Watch

Uniquely American

The breed was developed after the Bey of Tunis in North Africa gifted George Washington with sheep. These sheep were crossed with local American stock to develop one of North America's first unique livestock breeds.

Founding Fathers

Records show that many big names and agricultural leader in the Revolutionary world kept these sheep on their farms including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Richard Peters and George Washington Custis.

Tunis sheep

Wool in the early 1800s could be cheaply shipped to eastern markets such as Boston, where it fetched up to fifty cents a pound.

Important Facts
  • Tunis sheep almost went extinct during the Civil War due to fighting and the soldiers' need for food, but one farm in South Carolina hid away a flock on their land. After the war, the breed made its way to the Great Lakes region where it began its recovery.
  • These sheep have a medium-grade cream-colored wool with a three to five inch staple. One sheep can produce anywhere form seven to twelve pounds annually.
  • Because of their North African influence, Tunis sheep are more tolerant of warm, humid climates. They are also known for their disease resistance and grazing ability which has made them popular in the sustainable agriculture movement.

American Rabbits

Two blue American Rabbits
Basic Information

Origin: USA
Introduced to USA: 1918
Uses: Meat, Fur
CPL Status: Threatened

European Export

Although there are rabbits native to North America, all domestic rabbits in the U.S. descend from the European rabbit - the only species of rabbit known to be domesticated by humans.

Color Morphs

While originally only recognized in the blue variety, these rabbits con be blue, white or black. The white variety was recognized in 1925 but the black rabbits have yet to be recognized as an accepted color variant for the breed.

Americans were thought to have the best blue color and could fetch up to two dollars per pelt in 1920.

Important Facts
  • With fewer than 200 animals known to exist at the time, American Rabbits almost went extinct toward the end of the 20th century due to availability of imported commercial breeds and the collapse of the fur market, but began their recovery when the Livestock Conservancy added rabbits to the conservation priority list in 2005.
  • Because of the founding stock used to develop it, the breed was originally known as the German Blue Vienna but was quickly renamed due to World War I.
  • While there is little to no documented evidence of domestic rabbits being in the U.S. prior to the 1840s, it is likely they were casually raised on farms or in gardens among early settlers given their popularity at the time in Western European countries.
Blue American Rabbit

American Rabbits

Two blue American Rabbits
Basic Information

Origin: USA
Introduced to USA: 1918
Uses: Meat, Fur
CPL Status: Threatened

European Export

Although there are rabbits native to North America, all domestic rabbits in the U.S. descend from the European rabbit - the only species of rabbit known to be domesticated by humans.

Color Morphs

While originally only recognized in the blue variety, these rabbits con be blue, white or black. The white variety was recognized in 1925 but the black rabbits have yet to be recognized as an accepted color variant for the breed.

Blue American Rabbit

Americans were thought to have the best blue color and could fetch up to two dollars per pelt in 1920.

Important Facts
  • With fewer than 200 animals known to exist at the time, American Rabbits almost went extinct toward the end of the 20th century due to availability of imported commercial breeds and the collapse of the fur market, but began their recovery when the Livestock Conservancy added rabbits to the conservation priority list in 2005.
  • Because of the founding stock used to develop it, the breed was originally known as the German Blue Vienna but was quickly renamed due to World War I.
  • While there is little to no documented evidence of domestic rabbits being in the U.S. prior to the 1840s, it is likely they were casually raised on farms or in gardens among early settlers given their popularity at the time in Western European countries.
Learn more about our heritage breeds and agriculture program through our blogs.

Heritage Breeds Week programming is proudly supported by Beck Foundation.

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