Quatre Saisons - natural sustainable farming
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Dexters, Jersey, Welsh Black and Wagyu. Our cow menagerie.

The best way to ensure the survival of rare and endangered livestock is to build consumer demand. Unlike endangered animals in a zoo, farm stock has to pay its way. These animals need a market to encourage farmers to keep them. The more demand, the less rare they become.

Why Heritage Breeds?

Heritage animals were bred over time to develop traits that made them particularly well-adapted to local environmental conditions.

Heritage breeds are generally better adapted to withstand disease and survive in harsh environmental conditions, and their bodies can be better suited to living year round on pasture.


Breeds used in industrial agriculture are bred to produce lots of milk or eggs, gain weight quickly, or yield particular types of meat within confined facilities.

Heritage animals are well-suited to sustainable farms since they are able to survive without the temperature-controlled buildings and constant doses of antibiotics administered to the commercial breeds raised on factory farms.

Heritage breeds mature more slowly, developing complex flavours and ensuring much better eating qualities than meat sourced from early weaned animals rushed through feedlots for the mainstream market. The meat from each breed has its own characteristic taste and texture, which may even alter slightly through the seasons reflecting the available feed and condition of our land.

It is amazing to think that the ancient genetics of Welsh Black cattle stretch back in time to pre-Briton and to appreciate how well they thrive in our southern highlands snowy winters or Dorking  poultry, voted the best tasting chicken in the world, is known to have originated in Italy during the period of the Roman Empire.

It makes sense to me to run parasite-resistant and heat-tolerant Dorper sheep and Dexter cattle for our family table.  Raised in non-intensive conditions, the meat retains all the old-fashioned virtues of succulence, tenderness and full flavour.

Free-range Wessex Saddleback pigs and a range of purebred heritage poultry are not just food for our larder, but also provide the intricate recycling proficiency necessary for a healthy enclosed biodynamic system.

Many of these breeds have been developed across centuries of traditional small scale farming, family enterprises that often relied on the women of the family to tend animals and grow food for the table. Easy to handle animals with robust health and fantastic eating qualities-Isn't that what farming should be all about?


Lost Genetics

The FAO says the biggest single factor affecting farm animal diversity is the globalization of livestock markets.

Within the past 15 years, 190 breeds of farm animals have gone extinct worldwide, and there are currently 1,500 others at risk of becoming extinct. In the past five years alone, 60 breeds of cattle, goats, pigs, horses and poultry have become extinct. 83 percent of dairy cows are Holsteins, 60 percent of beef cattle are of the Angus, Hereford or Simmental breeds. 75 percent of commercial pigs come from just 3 main breeds. Over 60 percent of sheep come from only four breeds. The loss of the community farm, household poultry or village cattle has contributed to the incapacity of the third world to support its own populations.