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CAMPTON HILLS, IL:      Garfield Farm Museum will hold its 26th Annual Rare Breeds Livestock & Poultry Show and Sale on Sunday May 20th from 11am - 4pm. The only show of its type held in Illinois, looks at the loss of genetic diversity amongst domestic animals that humans have depended upon for food, fiber, and work for hundreds of years. For many visitors to the show it is the first and perhaps last time in their lives they might ever see some of these highly endangered breeds.      In today's market, very few breeds are used in modern farms. Those that are tend to have very small gene pools as artificial insemination makes it possible for one prized male animal to father thousands of offspring. This leads to a lack of genetic diversity. Genetic resistance or hardiness to disease might be absent in such a line. A disease could strike that could eliminate such a breed. Breed diversity is not only a novelty, it is a necessity.

    In times of economic uncertainty like the one we are in, any threat to our food sources could be disastrous. Should a disease or other factor make the breeds currently used not viable, food would become harder and more expensive to come by. What genetic diversity does is provide the option of a different genetic strain that may not be affected by the same things as the modern commonplace strain. Should the currently used breed be effected the heritage breed may not.

    There is also the matter of taste. Many of the currently used animals are used because they can grow to a desired size in a relatively short amount of time. Some older breeds may take longer to reach maturity, but they have a flavor to their meat or eggs that is missing in the genetically narrow market.

    Practicality aside, these animals should be saved for the same reason as any other rare animal. These barn yard critters may not be as glamorous as a panda or eagle, but are very much part of our environment and heritage. Many of these animals were on a farm when our forefathers were. If one were to save objects from the past to preserve a glimpse of the past, then heritage livestock should be saved to help complete the picture.     Breeders are invited to exhibit their animals at the museum with a chance to meet other breeders and prospective buyers. Pens, water, and bedding are provided by the museum just bring feed and any information, displays, products, demonstrations, or lectures related to the breeds being shown. There are no registration fees for exhibitors. Exhibitors must have appropriate health paperwork on their animals.

    In addition to seeing the animals, visitors and exhibitors can tour the 1846 Teamster Inn and Tavern, watch demonstrations of sheep shearing, wool spinning, or enjoy refreshments from Inglenook Pantry. There is a $6 donation for adults and $3 for children 12 years and younger.     Garfield Farm Museum is five miles west of Geneva, IL off ILL Route 38 on Garfield Road. The 370 acre museum is supported by donations and is the only surviving historically intact former 1840s Illinois prairie farmstead and teamster inn being restored as an 1840s working farm museum. For information call 630-584-8485 or email

The Dales Pony

The Dales Pony is a classic example of how breeds of animals can be extremely common and important and then with change can almost totally disappear. Since the Roman era in England, the lead mining called for pack animals that could haul the ore, lead, or fuel needed for this industry. The Dales Pony was developed over time to deal with this hilly and rough terrain. Their strength and endurance made them valuable pack ponies carrying as much as 2 pigs of lead or 240 pounds at a time in groups of 9 to 20 ponies lead by a mounted pack driver. In turn their size and strength as a large daft pony made them well suited for the type of small farms common to the region.

The coming of the railroad eliminated their need for transporting lead but they survived in the valleys or dales on farms or to enlarge mines and their shafts. By the 20th century there were also used in towns for pulling wagons and in the Army for warfare. Many were taken for World War II and few returned to the countryside. Only a handful of dedicated breeders preserved the breed with the formation of a breed society in 1964. Today most are enjoyed for riding or for driving being a hardy well rounded breed. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy lists them as threatened, with less than 1000 registrations in North America.

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