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Rare Breed “Featured Players” at CW

These animals are the stars at Colonial Williamsburg.

By Jamie Cole | Photos By Jamie Cole

 

We went behind the scenes with Elaine Shirley to get a close look at some of the “featured players” in Colonial Williamsburg’s Rare Breeds program. Here are three of the stars. Click on the photos to enlarge.

The Rare Breeds program started with the American Milking Red Devon Cattle, and these may still be the rarest animals in the program. CW maintains a small herd; their rich red coat and black-tipped horns make them popular with the visitors and distinctive from modern breeds.

The Rare Breeds program started with the American Milking Red Devon Cattle, and these may still be the rarest animals in the program. CW maintains a small herd; their rich red coat and black-tipped horns make them popular with the visitors and distinctive from modern breeds.

Nankin chickens were used to set quail and pheasant eggs and raised “as a curiosity in rich people’s poultry yards,” says Shirley. Nankins are one of the oldest breeds of “true” bantams—naturally small, with no large counterpart—and were used to create several new breeds in the 1800s. Shirley calls the Nankin “a foundation breed.”

Nankin chickens were used to set quail and pheasant eggs and raised “as a curiosity in rich people’s poultry yards,” says Shirley. Nankins are one of the oldest breeds of “true” bantams—naturally small, with no large counterpart—and were used to create several new breeds in the 1800s. Shirley calls the Nankin “a foundation breed.”

Wooly heads and legs make Leicester Longwools a pain to shear, but that abundance of wool—along with their fattening ability and rapid growth—made them good for Colonists. The breed died out in North America in the 1920s; CW had to import its initial herd from Tasmania in 1990.

Wooly heads and legs make Leicester Longwools a pain to shear, but that abundance of wool—along with their fattening ability and rapid growth—made them good for Colonists. The breed died out in North America in the 1920s; CW had to import its initial herd from Tasmania in 1990.

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