DO YOU KNOW YOUR DINKY DEXTERS FROM YOUR WOOLLY JACOBS?
When you think of the Ulster American Folk Park, you might imagine the old Ulster cottages, boarding a ship to set sail for the new world or perhaps wandering through the homesteads and log cabins of the American frontier. Perhaps you didn’t think of pigs, sheep and cattle! Well, think again! Every year, lots of different breeds of sheep, cattle, pigs and even chickens descend upon the museum for a weekend to remind us just how important animals are – and have been down through history!
And iof you thought pigs, cows and sheep are the same the world over, keep reading and you’ll soon discover the animals are as different and diverse as we are!
What Watch out for those horns!
You may have ’ve heard of White Park Bay on the North Antrim Coast but the The White Park is a rare breed of horned cattle having ancient herds preserved in the UK. The White Parkmay look very like Highland cattle, but it’s a totally distinct breed.
And from big horns to no horns…
The Irish Moiled is one of our most distinctive breeds of cattle native to Ireland and more specifically they are the only surviving domestic livestock native to Northern Ireland. A hornless breed, they are red in colour and characteristically marked by a white line or 'finching' on the back and white under parts with red ears and red nose. But they can vary from white with red ears and nose to nearly all red. The face is often roan or flecked.
Don’t forget the Dinky Dexter!
Dexter are a breed of miniature cattle originating in Ireland. The smallest of the European cattle breeds, they are about half the size of a traditional Hereford and about one third the size of a Friesian (Holstein) milking cow. A rare breed until recently, theybut are now considered a recovering breed by The Livestock Conservancy.
‘Herd’ of these sheep?
Herdwick Sheep are the native breed of the central and western Lake District and live on the highest of England’s mountains. They are extremely hardy and are managed in the traditional way on the Lake District fells that have been their home for generations.
Piebald pets – call security!
If you would like a pet sheep, then the Jacob Sheep breed is the one for you! The Jacob sheep is a rare breed of small, piebald (white with coloured spots), multi-horned sheep. Jacobs may have from two to six horns, but most commonly have four. Jacobs are usually raised for their wool, meat, and hides. They are also kept as pets and ornamental animals, and have been used as guard animals to protect farm property from theft or vandalism.
The Wensleydale is a breed of domestic sheep that originated in the Wensleydale region of North Yorkshire, England. It has a blue–grey face and is one of the largest and heaviest of all sheep breeds.
What ‘snort’ of pig is this?
The Plum Pudding Pig that doesn’t need sun cream!
The Oxford Sandy and Black is a breed of domestic pig originating in Oxfordshire. Named for its colour, which is a base of sandy brown with black patches, the breed is also sometimes called the "Plum Pudding" or "Oxford Forest pig." It is one of the oldest pigs native to Britain. Its colour protects it from sunburn (which pink pigs tend to suffer from).
The Middle White is a breed of domestic pig native to the UK. Its name comes from the fact that it was between the size of the Large White and the now-extinct Small White. The breed is known for its sharply upturned snub nose.
Old and under threat
The Tamworth is among the oldest of pig breeds, but as with many older breeds of livestock, it is under threat. It’s thought that fewer than 300 registered breeding females remain. This animal is a ginger/ red colour and is thought to have descended from wild boars.
If you were fascinated by these facts, then you’ll enjoy getting up close to some of these animals at the Ulster American Folk Park’s Rare Breeds Weekend on Saturday April 29, Sunday April 30 and Monday May 1. Visit nmni.com for further information.