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Lamb Origin Map

Development of Modern Sheep

Lamb Origin Map

The development of modern sheep traces back to ancient Mesopotamia where the wild muflon, the ancestor of modern sheep, were first believed to be domesticated between 11000 and 9000 BC. These sheep were primarily raised for meat, milk, and skins. Woolly sheep began to be developed around 6000 BC in Iran, and cultures such as the Persians became dependent on sheep’s wool for trading. Domesticated woolly sheep were imported to Africa and Europe via ancient trading routes where breed distinction and differentiation began to take shape.

Through breed improvement efforts, selective breeding and migration via trade, modern breeds began to emerge across Europe and Africa. These breeds were further developed and crossed before being brought to the Americas on the ships of explores and merchants.


Origin : Spain
Population : 2,000 and 5,000 Worldwide
Status : Threatened
Temperament : Active but Docile
Known for : Sweet, lean meat
Facts : The first breed brought to North America.

Flavor Profile : Rich, Earthy, Tangy, Sweet, Mustard Seed, Spicy, Herbaceous, Silky.
Navajo-Churro : The Spanish Churro sheep was first brought to the Americas in the 1500s by the Spanish explores. One of the earliest domesticated animals in the New World, it quickly became integrated in native culture and cuisine. The Navajo-Churro produces excellent wool and meat. It was Navajo women who owned the sheep, the grazing rights and the wool, which was an important source of income. The Navajo-Churro existed in great numbers until the 1860’s when the United States government targeted their populations while at war with the Navajo.

The Navajo-Churro produces meat is lean with a distinctive, sweet flavor. It is rich, hearty and earthy with tangy and spicy notes of mustard seeds.


Origin : Tunisia
Population : 5,000 USA
Status : Rare
Temperament : Docile
Known for : Exceptionally flavored meat
Facts : A favorite breed among our founding fathers.

Flavor Profile : Earthy, Minerally, Buttermilk, Not Lamby, Silky.

Tunis : The Tunis breed originated in Tunisia and is reputed to be more then 3000 years old. Referred to as fat-tailed sheep in the bible, the tail is now smaller but mature ewes still carry the distinctive tail fat the breed is known for. The color ranges from tan to red with the occasional white spot on the head and tail.

A favorite breed among our founding fathers, John Adams mentioned the breed in his diary in 1782 noting its exceptional taste. Thomas Jefferson ordered that a herd be imported from Tunisia because he loved them so much he thought they should be more readily available. George Washington bred them—one of his early legacies was the proliferation of his particular Tunis crossbreed on farms and dinner tables along the east coast. The Tunis is an excellent ambassador breed for the grass-fed movement yet still remains on the Livestock Breed Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List.


Dorset Horn

Origin : England
Population : Less than 2,000 Worldwide
Status : Watch
Temperament : Docile
Known for : Exceptional flavor

Flavor Profile :Olive, Lavendar, Sweet, Round, Lamby, Fresh.
Dorset Horn : The Dorset Horn is a breed of sheep that spread over Dorset, Somerset, Devon, and most of Wales during the 1700’s. Once popular with English aristocracy, the Dorset Horn has seen a steady decrease in population since the inception of industrialized agriculture. Today it is listed as Critically Threatened by the Livestock Conservancy. Dorsets tolerate heat well—heat tolerance contributes to the rams’ ability to breed earlier in the season than rams of other breeds. The Dorset Horn is able to give birth three times a year, which contributes to the Dorsets profitability and appeal for farmers who are familiar with heritage breeds.

Dorset Horn sheep are prized for their lean meat and tenderness.


Origin : America
Population : Between 2,000 and 5,000 Worldwide
Status : Watch
Temperament : Docile
Known for : Balanced, mild flavor
Facts : A haired sheep

Flavor Profile : Savory, Mushroom, Clover, Peppery, Creamy, Woody.

Katahdin : The Katahdin is unique in that it is a hair sheep and lacks the traditional coat of wool that lamb are associated with. Wool production takes time and energy from both the animals and the farmers while only providing 10 percent of the farmer’s income. In addition wool production can create a more pungent and muttony taste in the meat. Katahdins are favored by many farmers for their low maintenance and prized by chefs for their bright and clean taste. The Katahdin breed was first developed by Michael Piel of Abbott, Maine. It is an ideal breed for grass-fed systems and serves land conservation projects well.

And the winner is… drumstick please…

Thanks to you all for sharing your very yummy photos!

We are so pleased to offer these heritage and rare breeds of turkey raised by fourth generation poultry farmer, Frank Reese. Frank has been raising birds for 60 years and can trace the genetic lines for these turkeys back over a couple hundred years. Passion and dedication has paid off in the success of his flocks and the uncompromising flavor of each animal.

2014 Turkey Photo Contest Winner:

  Taylor Naples, FL



Honorable Mentions:


Carolyn, Eat Marion, NY







Carol Twin Falls, ID

Carol, Twin Falls ID












To all of you who support the Heritage Turkey Project, Thank You! It would not be possible without your support and enthusiasm over the years.











Wine and Beer Pairings for Ham

We spoke with Jeff Porter, Del Posto’s acclaimed wine director, to get some tips and inspiration for pairing wine and beer with our salty cured ham. We Gave him two hams, both American, and asked him what he thought. Here’s what he picked…

Maple Sugar Cured Heritage Ham

1. Makes a killer Ham & Swiss sandwich and go for a high altitude white – a Swiss white would be great (those can be hard to find) so a delish Pinot Bianco from Alto Adige in Italy is perfect.
2. For brunch – sear it up, serve with pancakes and have some Champagne or other yeasty sparkling wine.
3. By itself from the fridge (so it is cold) an East Coast IPA – not as hoppy as a west coast IPA but has the bright and fresh palate to keep the richness in check.

S. Wallace Edwards & Sons 400 day aged Surryano Ham

An amazing cut of pig! The balance between sweet, savory, fatty and salty was perfect. There are a lot of beverages that I would enjoy consuming with the cured ham, but as always it depends on how you use it:

Classic: A super dry white from Spain would be really delish with this – a white Rioja or my fav Spanish wine – a Fino Sherry or better yet a Manzanilla (a sub sect of Fino Sherry)

America: I could take this 3 ways – beer/wine/booze
Beer: An American example of Saison beer would be really good with this – the citrus notes and brightness balance out the rich flavor
Booze: Go whiskey based cocktails or a sweet version of Bourbon on the rocks like Four Roses Single Barrel
Wine: We can go a few different ways – I really like sparkling wine and the bright acidity mixed with the richness of the yeast work well with the ham – thin Schramsburg Blanc de Blanc or Roederer Estate Brut NV – I also think a classic Sauvignon Blanc from northern California would work really well – again – it is about balancing the salty/richness of the ham.

No expense spared: If you want to go “hog wild” – I would go Champagne – lean on a richer style of Champagne – something with oomph – like Krug
Other wine pairings: Friulano from Italy, A Riesling from Germany (from the Rheingau or Rheinhessen) – the best thing is that the ham is very versatile

Buttermilk Roasted Chicken

The Best Buttermilk Roasted Chicken Recipe

Brining chicken in a buttermilk bath before frying it to crispy golden-brown perfection has been a long standing southern tradition, but did you know using buttermilk to brine your chicken will produced juicy, fall off the bone tender result when roasted in your over too!

Heritage Pork Taste Chart

Pork Breed Histories and Heritage Pork Taste Chart


Berkshire [Fatty] smooth and creamy flavor

Berkshire pork is elegant, luscious and smooth. The meat boasts a round and buttery flavor that melts on the tongue.

Red Wattle [Fatty] flavorful, earthy, minerally, bold

Red Wattle meat is charmingly inconsistent and can be earthy, vegetal and herbaceous with a hint of cinnamon. Its expressive porky flavor is concentrated and bold.

Duroc [Lean] clean, mild flavor, lean

Duroc meat is clean and crisp. Its taste and texture are polished and easy on the palate. Duroc pork is a standard, not to fatty, not too strong pig.

Old Spot [Very Fatty] milky, nice marbling and fat ratio

Old Spot has the creamiest taste of any of the pig breeds. The Old Spot tastes like a tour of the fruit orchard where they famously grazed in old England!

Tamworth [Very Lean] balanced flavor, sweet, very lean

Tamworth is the leanest of the pork breeds that we sell, but still has incredible tenderness and flavor. It is rootsy like the woods it ranges on and has a clean finish.

We had a great time taste testing these breeds and hope we have come up with some words that truly describe the characteristics of the pork. We would love to hear your thoughts!!! Please send us your taste comments to so that we can add your words to the list!

Taste the difference with one of our breed variety packs!


Grind 2: The Sequel

Cooking is easy. Mother Nature + the skill of a responsible farmer = the only recipe you should ever fuss over.

Rather than filling your shelves with epic recipe books, how about breed charts that describe the gastronomic wonders of every livestock variety? “One 32-ounce flank steak” as the prime mover in a recipe is not enough information for the enlightened carnivore. Where does that beef come from— farm and breed, please! And was it from a happy cow that led a decent cow life, grazing and doing happy cow things? Or was it a prisoner of American industry?

Cattle are a lot more nuanced than you might think. Dig this: Piedmontese and Belgian Blues are the only two breeds of cow that have the “double-muscle” gene, which makes them extraordinarily tender. And these cows are loaded with myostatin, a protein that inhibits muscle differentiation and growth. As a result, you get a supremely tender and delicious cut of beef. Contrast that with the Angus—which has more tooth and is especially good for dry-aging. The Simmental, a Swiss cow originally bred to stand up to thin air in the Alps, requires a serious knife and some sharp incisors when it comes time to eating. But its grain packs a lot of distinct flavor. The Akaushi is tangy with hints of blue cheese and olive oil. It has a rich aged flavor with a long aftertaste.

Being intimate with the supply chain is where it’s at, which is why Heritage Foods USA is an ingredient-based philosophy. Be a friend and fan of the beast. Food is very personal, and knowledge is power. And when it comes right down to it, it’s the meat, not the motion.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with recipes from Heritage Chef Steve Pope


Chef Steve Pope knows that American culinary traditions are tied to preserving Heritage Animals.These animals get to live as they are supposed to with plenty of outdoor space and time to grow and develop. This means a more flavorful bird, but it also means relearning how to cook a real chicken. He has worked with our friends at Good Shepherd Poultry to craft recipes specifically for Heritage Chicken and Turkey.
We have invited chef Steve to share some Cinco de Mayo inspired recipes this week. From our table to yours, please enjoy!

West Texas Chicken Soup

While living some 20 + years in San Angelo Texas just north of the Mexican border I discovered quickly the importance of Mexican celebrations, and Cinco De Mayo was at the top of the list. Fort Concho, San Angelo Texas is considered a National historical site. And the parades ground were used for many Celebrations. During the “fiesta” there were many booths set up with foods indigenous to the area. Along with the ubiquitous taco, burrito and empanadas was a very popular offering of various Mexican soups. Traditionally the soup was simmered throughout the day. Using large cast iron pots the women would tend to their concoction until it had reached perfection. I have adapted this recipe using the electric crock pot and while the atmosphere of a traditional West Texas Cinco De Mayo may not be the same, the “autentico sabor” is,……. right down to using the Heritage bird.

Serves: 6-8

  • (2 lbs) Good Shepherd Barred Rock or New Hampshire chicken parts ( I save the white meat for other dishes.)
  • 2 small cans of diced green chilies
  • 1 (15oz) can black beans
  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 1 cup salsa (Yes even Pace will do)
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions
  • 2 large garlic cloves; minced
  • • ½ jalapeno; seeded and diced
  • 15 oz. water
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ of a lime; juiced
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Kosher sea salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a heated skillet with 2 tablespoons of Canola oil, lightly brown chicken parts
  2. Place jalapeno, green chilies, black beans, corn and garlic cloves in the bottom of crock pot.
  3. Pour in broth.
  4. Place chicken pieces on top and season with spices.
  5. Pour 1 cup of salsa and lime juice over top of chicken and cover.
  6. Cook 4-6 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low.
  7.  About 30 minutes before finished, transfer chicken pieces to a separate bowl and shred..
  8. If mixture in crock pot seems thin, add 1 tablespoon flour to ¼ cup of broth and blend into pot.
  9.  Return shredded chicken to crock pot and cover for final 30 minutes.
  10. Top chicken soup with cheese, cilantro, green onions and a dollop of sour cream.
Hamburguesas de Pollo Mexicanas

Everyone loves hamburgers and this Mexican version using Ground Heritage Chicken can be a hit for any Cinco De Mayo celebration. By using chicken in place of the traditional beef you are cutting down on the calories and increasing the nutrition. The addition of egg water, and bread crumbs insures a moist and delicious burger.

  • 3 pounds ground Heritage Chicken
  • 3 onions, minced, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 pound shredded pepperjack cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped and juices strained
  • 2 bunches cilantro, chopped
  • 1 serrano chile pepper, minced, divided
  • 3 limes, juiced, divided
  • 5 avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 12 hamburger buns or flat bread
  • Original recipe makes 12 servings


  1.  Mix ground chicken, half the onions, bread crumbs, water, pepper jack cheese, and eggs in a bowl; form into 12 patties.
  2. Combine tomatoes, half the remaining onion, cilantro, half the serrano chile pepper, and half the lime juice; mix well to make pico de gallo. Cover and chill in refrigerator.
  3. Mash avocados, remaining onions, remaining serrano chile pepper, and remaining lime juice together in a bowl to make guacamole. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat; pan-fry poultry patties to desired doneness, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Assemble each sandwich by placing a burger in each bun; top burger with guacamole, and pico de gallo.

Buen comer!

The Heritage Chef Steve Pope

What Separates Heritage Chickens From the Rest of the Pack?

What really separates Heritage Breeds of chicken from the rest of the pack, and why is it so important to help preserve breed diversity?

Barred Rock Hen.
Barred Rock Hen.

What is most remarkable about the chicken is that every one of the approximately 12 billion that populate the planet earth are all descended from the Red junglefowl (gallus gallus) of southern Asia.

Of course, counting how many chickens exist is no easy task considering that chicken just surpassed beef as the most eaten meat in the United States. Chickens also live in backyards and rooftops in every country in the world — they only need a small space to provide us with eggs and meat. Sadly many varieties of chicken are on the endangered species list. This cultural loss began in the 1950s but sped up in the 1970s.

Frank Reese and Good Shepherd Ranch are part of an underground movement to preserve old genetics. Today Good Shepherd with Heritage Foods USA is the only company selling 100% USDA inspected factory farm free chicken meat. This means no genetic meddling took place other than preservation of what real chickens once were. No one knows what real chickens are like better than Frank who has been in the business for over 50 years, since he was a little boy. He knows the taste and composition of every chicken that ever walked on American soil. His farm is a museum of the past and if good sense prevails, also the future! Of course no antibiotics are needed on Good Shepherd Ranch because the animals are strong and capable of reproducing on their own. These are chickens with 10,000 year histories.

In an effort promote heritage chickens, Heritage Foods USA is starting to sell ground chicken. This ground can be purchased as part of our livestock variety packs and soon by itself. The delicious ground meat is available in one-pound bags and consists only of heritage birds. Our goal is to increase the market for heritage breeds of chicken, allowing Frank and neighboring farms room to increase various breed populations.

Our whole chicken program continues each season with a rotation of all the breeds that Frank dutifully raises on his ranch. In 2014 the Rhode Island White, Leghorn, Minorca, and White Cornish will have been celebrated on dinner tables around the country. I asked Frank what the differences were between them and he answered, “It’s as big a difference as a Great Dane and a Chihuahua!”  We are proud to feature each breed by itself every 3 months as well as breed variety packs that allow you to compare and contrast the flavors and shape of the birds. For a full list of breeds we will feature over the coming months see below. Together we hope to turn the tide against monoculture in the American poultry industry.

Working to change the way Americans eat chicken is no easy task. The industry is dominated by a single variety of chicken that got its start in the 1950s but really became a central actor on the American stage in the 1970s when the folks at Tyson met with the folks at McDonalds to develop the Chicken McNugget. The nugget provided Tyson with a stable and consistent market while also relieving them of the pressures of the fresh poultry market — nuggets could be frozen. Fresh chickens as a dominant part of the industry now became a thing of the past. The nugget created the need for the development of a new industrial hybrid chicken broiler that made the most amount of meat using the least amount of feed. Another goal was that the birds produce almost exclusively white meat even though nature does not do that on its own.

The industry scoured flocks for abnormal candidates to breed together to develop the characteristics they desired, even though it has ultimately been unhealthy for the species. When the industry came across one of nature’s mistakes — say, a chicken so top-heavy with meat that it could barely walk—they pulled it from the flock, not to kill it in an effort to protect the group from bad genes, but to ensure that its abnormal genetics became part of the next year’s harvest. The misfits were cataloged and combined — corporate farms now consist of entire populations who’s skeletal, cardiovascular, and immune systems can’t keep up with their genetic engineering. Long before they got to the crowded feeding ops, these animals were doomed to a life of pain with a potpourri of scurrilous genetics. But boy, do they grow fast! A five-pound chicken has gone from taking 16 weeks to only six weeks to fully grow, but many are on the verge of collapse when they arrive on the kill floor. These are dead end animals.

Thankfully farmers like Frank resisted the trend. His farm consists of dozens of breeds neatly divided in pens. Frank works to improve each genetic line that he has acquired over the past decades. Each breed tastes different but they all boast more dark meat than industrial cousins. They also look like a chicken with thinner breast lines, and a strong build.

The flavor of the meat is intense and the fibers in the meat are very strong and difficult to break down. Heritage chickens must be cooked very low and very slow. Without this technique the birds will be tough. Moisture must also a part of cooking process or else they dry out over the long cooking time.

The breeds Frank raises include Columbian Wyandotte, Rhode Island Whites, Black Leghorns, Golden Penciled Hamburg, Dark Brahma, Silver Laced Wyandotte, White Laced Red Cornish, Dark Cornish, White Cornish, White Jersey Giants, Black Jersey Giants, White Leghorns, Buff Leghorns, Blue Andalusian, Barred Plymouth Rock, Ancona, Light Brown Leghorn, Dark Brown Leghorn, Silber Leghorn, Black Minorca, White Face Black Spanish, Silver Penciled Hamburg, Plymouth Rocks and New Hampshires among many more. We hope you will try each one and help us lay the path for a return of taste and dignity for our animals.

Hen standing in the sunshine at Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch.
Hen standing in the sunshine at Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch.
Jersey Giant from Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch.
Jersey Giant from Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch.
Columbian Wyndotte from Good Shepard Poultry Ranch.
Columbian Wyndotte from Good Shepard Poultry Ranch.
Barred Rock Hen on Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch.
Barred Rock Hen on Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch.
Hens forge together at Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch.
Hens forge together at Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch.

Holiday Geese from Leaping Waters Farm

We are proud to once again be partnering with Leaping Waters Farm in Alleghany Spring, Virginia to bring you Holiday Geese.


Leaping Waters Farm
When Alec and Sarah Bradford met, they committed to working to feed their family from their 110 acres of farmland in Alleghany Spring, Virginia. Often describing their farming methods as “beyond organic,” the Bradfords ensure their animals are healthy and happy, with access to plenty of pasture and fresh forage. In addition to supplying us with the highest quality beef, this year Leaping Waters Farm will raise Embden and Toulouse geese.

Alec prefers raising geese to turkeys because turkeys need at least 20% of their forage diet supplemented by grain, but geese do not necessarily. In fact, he does not feed his breeding geese any additional grain, and only feeds whole corn in the last 6 weeks to fatten them up for Christmas. Geese happily eat grass in addition to legumes, which is beneficial at Leaping Waters Farm, as their fields are mostly alfalfa. Geese are the pinnacle of sustainability in fowl.

Dating back at least 200 years, Embden Geese originated in—and take their name from—the Embden region of northwestern Germany. In 1821, this breed made its way to Boston and quickly became one of the most popular domesticated geese breeds.

Embden geese may be best known for their above-average size, most reaching about 3.3 feet in height and 20-30lbs in weight. This large size, as well as their docile temperament, point to a possible relation with the Toulouse breed. The Embden boasts brilliant white plumage, bright orange bills, and, perhaps most striking of all, vivid blue eyes.

Similar to the Toulouse, Embdens are rich and fatty birds, ideal for a festive holiday meal. Because these birds are active and athletic, known to enjoy a diet supplemented by kale and other leafy greens, the meat has a much subtler, more nuanced flavor with a less greasy texture than that of a commercial goose.

Information gathered from the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy website ( and Domestic Waterfowl Club of the United Kingdom (

Goatober Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                            FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: ERIN FAIRBANKS, (718) 389-0985


No Goat Left Behind: Goatober Is Here!
Brooklyn, NY (September 20, 2013) No Goat Left Behind is an annual project launched in 2011 by Heritage Foods USA designed to introduce goat meat to American diners and develop a sustainable end market to support farmers in the Northeast. We are proud to partner with 14 New York State and Vermont family farms to sell hundreds of goats to restaurants and home consumers throughout this October.  Thanks to our partner restaurants, you will be able to find goat on the finest dinner tables across New York City.

Just like most foods, goats have their season. Naturally mating goats give birth in the early Spring and are ready for harvest in the Fall. They are best enjoyed in October – or as we say, Goatober! The flavor of goat is delicate and grassy. As the world’s most widely consumed protein, there is a recipe for every menu.

Over 50 restaurants will participate in the No Goat Left Behind project by serving our goat on their menu for the full month of October. Visit the restaurants listed here to enjoy goat served in a variety of ways.  For an updated list, please check our website. Goat is also available for purchase by home consumers at

No Goat Left Behind is partnering with Cider Week NY, a project of Glynwood that seeks to enhance the viability of regional orchards by celebrating hard cider.  Regional cider will be highlighted from October 18-27 in restaurants, bars, and retail shops throughout NYC and the Hudson Valley.  For more info please visit:


Both No Goat Left Behind and Cider Week NY were developed to raise awareness and demand for distinctive agricultural products best enjoyed in October.  Matthew Rudofker, Chef de Cuisine of Momofuku ssäm bar, will demonstrate his favorite goat dishes paired with an array of local ciders at Astor Center on October 10th. Tickets now available through For information, visit our website.


All our goats are raised to Heritage Foods USA’s specifications, guaranteeing pasture-raised animals with no growth hormones or antibiotics. The five breeds represented include: Oberhasli, a dairy breed developed in the mountainous regions of Switzerland; Nubian of mixed Asian, African, and European origin, known for high butterfat milk production; Saanen, which surpass all the other breeds in production of milk and butterfat; Boer, which were selected for meat production and originally hail from South Africa; and Kiko which are recognized for greater parasite resistance and good meat yield.


For more information about Heritage Foods USA and No Goat Left Behind, or to have goat shipped directly to your home, visit


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