Raising Heritage Breed Livestock and Venturing into Farming with Cathy Payne (PVP010)

“Heritage breeds are traditional livestock breeds that were raised by our forefathers. These are the breeds of a bygone era, before industrial agriculture became a mainstream practice.”Cathy Payne

Cathy Payne of Broad River Pastures joins me to talk about heritage breed livestock, holistic farming, and her journey into farming that began in her mid-50’s.

Cathy and her husband started changing their diet in their 50’s.  Their quest for nutrient dense food led them to local farmers, and a lot of visits to their farms.  One day they decided, why don’t we do this, and they began their journey into farming.  They jumped in with the goal of growing the food that they wanted to eat.  This meant that they would raise the right animals, the right way – incorporating holistic livestock care, permaculture practices, and sustainable organic farming.

Now they are a few years into their farming adventure.  The farm is slowly growing and expanding it’s education outreach a long the way.  They actively support heritage breed livestock and education via outreach and their on-farm internship program.  Both Cathy and her husband feel better than they have ever felt in their life due a combination of lifestyle and nutrient-dense food.  They continue to learn along the way and they are making a difference.  Keep in mind that they started all of this as virgin farmers.


Key Takeaways from this Episode:

  • Start small, observe, then decide if it is worthwhile to scale up.  This could be applied to livestock or a commercial crop.  It is easier and less risky to make small incremental changes.
  • Choose livestock breeds that match your climate and farming style. 
  • Do not underestimate the importance of data collection on the farm.  The data ultimately drives the direction of your breeding program and the farm.
  • Breed to suit your environment.  Each generation ultimately can improve the genetics for your location since you can selectively breed for the traits that you favor.
  • Don’t forget value adds.  Such as raising wool sheep where you can sell the fleece in addition to the meat.

Advantages of heritage breeds:

  • Often very hardy.
  • Better adapted to local climates.
  • Can be better all purpose animals.  For example egg layers and meat birds.
  • Better production in certain farming styles and climates.
  • Many can self forage.
  • Proven track records going back hundreds of years.
  • Many breeds have been breed selectively for taste.

What Are Heritage Breeds:

“Heritage breeds are traditional livestock breeds that were raised by our forefathers. These are the breeds of a bygone era, before industrial agriculture became a mainstream practice. These breeds were carefully selected and bred over time to develop traits that made them well-adapted to the local environment and they thrived under farming practices and cultural conditions that are very different from those found in modern agriculture.

Traditional, historic breeds retain essential attributes for survival and self-sufficiency – fertility, foraging ability, longevity, maternal instincts, ability to mate naturally, and resistance to diseases and parasites.

Heritage animals once roamed the pastures of America’s pastoral landscape, but today these breeds are in danger of extinction. Modern agriculture has changed, causing many of these breeds to fall out of favor. Heritage breeds store a wealth of genetic resources that are important for our future and the future of our agricultural food system.”  The Livestock Conservancy




More information on heritage breed livestock:

The Livestock Conservancy

American Guinea Hog Association

Gulf Coast Sheep Breeders Association

English Shepherd Club – America’s Heritage Farm Dog



More information about Cathy Payne & Broad River Pastures:

Broad River Pastures:  Promoting Nutrient Dense Food and Heritage Breeds

Broad River Pastures Facebook

You can contact Cathy via the form HERE.

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