Middleton Place

Heritage Breeds

Heritage Breeds

The Stableyards, complete with animals and workers demonstrating plantation crafts, provide an accurate look at the plantation life in the Low Country.

Cattle

Beef was a major early export for the Carolina colony and cattle have been an important part of the livestock population at Middleton Place since its founding. Various breeds such as Devons and Piney Woods cattle are believed to have occupied Middleton pastures and savannas in the 18th and 19th centuries. A Middleton plantation journal records, "a full Devon bull calf named Napoleon III." In 1850, 100 "milch cows" and 1000 "other cattle" (for beef) were being husbanded at Middleton Place.

Water Buffalo

water-buffalo.jpgTwo water buffalo currently reside at Middleton Place where they are being trained to work as draft animals. Middleton Place was home to the first water buffalo in the United States. They were imported from Constantinople to plow the rice fields. In 1865, there were eleven water buffalo at Middleton Place. Union troops butchered five and drove the others off. Shortly thereafter, three of the other water buffalo appeared at the Central Park Zoo in New York City and were affectionately referred to as "General Sherman's water buffalo."

Gulf Coast Sheep

gulf-coast-sheep-2.jpgThe Gulf Coast flock of sheep that graze the Greensward is a reminder of former days when large numbers were raised for their meat and wool. The Gulf Coast breed is hardy and has thrived for centuries in the humid pinelands of the South. The sheep on the plantation are sheared in the spring shortly after the lambs are born. Visit during Living History Days at Middleton Place and see sheep shearing, spinning and weaving demonstrations, and a host of other activities involving sheep and their wool.

Cashmere Goats

Cashmere, the fiber of kings, is produced from the lowly Cashmere goat. They are healthy animals and need only minimal shelter due to the insulative properties of their dual coats. The hair can be harvested by combing out the winter coat beginning approximately in March. A full grown adult buck will yield as much as 2.5 pounds of fleece. Williams Middleton imported and raised cashmere goats at Middleton Place in the 1850s, sending the hair to France to have it processed into cloth.

Belgian Draft Horses

belgian-draft-horsesThe Belgian Draft Horses lead carriage tours through remote parts of the plantation otherwise not seen by visitors. Historically, fine thoroughbred race horses were also bred and raised at Middleton Place.

Guinea Hogs

guinea-hog.jpgGuinea hogs were once the most numerous pig breed in the Southeast, but are now almost extinct. They were likely to be found on plantations throughout the Low Country including Middleton Place, but in 2006 there were fewer than 200 in existence. The hogs were originally imported from West Africa and the Canary Islands to America in conjunction with the slave trade. A hardy and efficient breed, the hogs subsisted well on the roughest of forage and produced hams, bacon, and lard. They were ideal hogs for Low Country plantations where slaves worked under the task system of labor and commonly raised their own vegetables and hogs for sale or personal consumption.

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