News from Garfield Farm

Return to News Index | Garfield Farm Home


On Sunday May 16th from 11 am -4 pm, Garfield Farm Museum will hold its 18th Annual Rare Breeds Livestock Show. Members of the American Livestock Breed Conservancy, exhibitors and breeders of the Great Lakes region will bring their rare breeds of livestock and poultry that are threatened with extinction.

"Each day when I look in the eyes of Bucky, our old type Berkshire boar, I wonder if I will be one of the last to have seen his kind," said Jerome Johnson, executive director of the museum. The old type Berkshire hog is recognizable with its short and turned up snout from the straight nosed modern variety of Berkshires. The museum's breeding pair of Berkshires have produced two litters over the last three years but the museum has not been able to find any non-related Berkshires to prevent inbreeding. Hundreds of breeds of animals that have taken hundreds of years to develop are now threatened with extinction because they don't meet current mass market needs. However, they may very well possess other genetic traits that will be needed in the future.

"We all know change is inevitable," says Johnson, "but we need genetic diversity so we can meet the challenges of change in the future". It is particularly ironic that for the first time in history, humans are figuring out how genetics work and yet are allowing these living banks of genes to disappear. The Rare Breeds Show is an opportunity for visitors to become aware of these breeds. For the farm owner or animal enthusiast this is a chance to learn about the breeds and to purchase them. Attention for rare breeds of livestock is growing. The Martha Stewart Living magazine recently published an article on heirloom chickens that featured Glen Drowns of the Sandhill Preservation Center in Calamus, IA. Garfield Farm Museum was credited in the article for its help in preserving the Black Java chicken. A number of national articles last fall on turkey breeds have generated orders for these flavorful birds for Thanksgiving. Breeder Deborah Niemann Boehle of Cornell, IL will be taking orders at the show for Thanksgiving turkeys.

This year horses, goats, pigs, cattle, sheep, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, geese and more are expected at the show. Representative breeds include miniature Hereford, Irish Dexter, milking Devon, milking Shorthorn, Dutch belt and Highland cattle, Friesian, Icelandic, Andalusian, and Shire horses, Black Welsh Mountain, Shetland, wrinkled Merino, Jacobs, and Olde English Babydoll Southdown sheep, American Buff, Pomeranian and Pilgrim geese, Dominique, Black Java, White Java, Golden Laced Wyandotte, Silver Laced Wyandotte, Salmon Faverolle, Araucana/Americana, Spitzhauben chickens, Bourbon Red, Black, Royal Palm, wild, and Narragansett turkeys, Oberhasli dairy and Nigerian dwarf goats, Gloucestershire Old Spot ,Tamworth, Mulefoot , and old type Berkshire hogs, French Angora rabbits and Dutch cavies (guinea pigs).

Speakers will also give presentations on breeds of turkeys and on various waterfowl. Sheep shearing by hand and by electric shearers will be demonstrated. The museum's Devon oxen, Duke and Doc, will also be performing their skills. Tours of the 1846 restored brick tavern will be offered. Inglenook Pantry of Geneva, IL will have food and refreshments available. Garfield Farm Museum is 5 miles west of Geneva, ILL off ILL Rt. 38 on Garfield Road. The museum is being restored as an 1840s working farm museum. The Rare Breeds Show costs $6 for adults and $2 for children under 13 years of age. For information call (630) 584-8485 or email



For more information about Garfield Farm send an e-mail message to: or call 630/584-8485.

Questions or comments about this web page: