Ayrshire Farm Donates Horses to Temple Hall Farm Park
by KRISTEN ARMSTRONG, Staff Writer
|Preserving agriculture and promoting rare
breeds of farm animals are paramount goals at Ayrshire Farm in
In an effort to follow through with these aims, Ayrshire recently donated two of its Shire horses, Darcy and Junior, to Temple Hall Farm Regional Park near Leesburg.
Ayrshire Farm is a fully working organic farm that raises heritage livestock breeds and only opens to the public twice a year. By donating the Shires to Temple Hall, which is open to the public throughout the warmer months, the rare breed will get much more exposure.
“Temple Hall has a lot of heritage breeds,” said Susie Hass, Ayrshire Farm's secretary. “Our donation goes hand in hand with their needs and ours.”
Darcy and Junior will do farm work at Temple Hall, as well as be used for hay rides and parades.
Shires are the largest of the modern draught breeds (horses bred for heavy tasks such as plowing or farm labor), and can grow between 17 and 19 hands tall and weigh around one ton.
“Shires are very quiet and willing to work - probably the most docile of the equines,” said Paul Tyrell, Ayrshire Farm's coachman. “They really are gentle giants.”
Until recently, Shires were an endangered breed - they now are on the “watch” list - and were losing popularity to Clydesdales. Ayrshire has been doing its part to keep the breed viable.
The farm also organically raises rare breeds of cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys.
“Hopefully, our approach to farming will spread,” said Susie Hass, the farm's secretary. “It's more labor-intensive, but the overall outcome is far more beneficial. We produce a product that is far better for you.”
Ayrshire Farm currently manages 23 Shires, and uses them in their day-to-day farm work, which cuts down on the use of diesel fuel and tractors. The horses are also used for carriage rides
The farm has its own breeding program and uses stallion Knutsford Edward, who was imported from England.
Tyrell travels with the Shires to 10 or 11 shows a year, to promote the breed and the farm.
“The staff that worked with Darcy and Junior were attached to them, and do miss them,” Tyrell said. “But they went for a good cause. Getting the Shire name out there is worth not having them.”
Ayrshire Farm is open to the public for Loudoun County's Spring Farm Tour in May and again during the Beastie Bazaar in the late fall. Products from the farm can be enjoyed at the Hunter's Head Tavern in Upperville.