Thorny Croft Animals Knowledge

Thorny Croft

Thorny Croft for Heritage Cows, Sheep, Pigs and Poultry

Thorny croft is a family passion and small business. Our first goal is self reliance in eggs milk and meat for our own family, in a way that is regenerative of the ecological niche we live in... read more!

Thorny Croft is an 8 hectare ‘small farm’, being established by Bob Corker and Kay Baxter, together with Taiamai and Franzi Corker. It is ‘Thorny Croft ’ because of the hawthorns which we love, and it is a ‘croft’ in the traditional sense of the word,  in that it is it is a diverse and integrated small holding run by a family on leased land…read more!


Thorny Croft Dexters Thorny Croft Dexters began as the Koanga stud when we still lived in Kaiwaka. We wanted Dexters then because we had steep, heavy, clay hills and no rye grass or clover.. very little anyway….. we mostly had kikuyu, it was everywhere. Read more ...

Our main reason for establishing milk production is for raising pigs and chooks. In an effort to purchase as little feed as possible, we can use the milk to provide them with a considerable amount of their protein needs. Our cows are Dexters, which as a breed, do have a higher-fat content in the milk. The other plus side of Dexters is their ability to graze on rougher pasture and maintain a hearty constitution. The cows are calving now, and we’ve been selecting the more docile, quieter cows to milk for ourselves and mothering up two calves on the less docile cows. We’re now getting up to 14 liters a day from Scarlet, our 11 year old red Dexter. Our three Large Black piglets are enjoying some of this milk each day…read more!




Wiltshire Horns The Wiltshire Horn is one of the oldest known British sheep breeds. As its name implies, its most noticeable characteristic are their large horns. Read more ...




Brown Leghorn Chickens Leghorns are the best layers of all the old heritage breeds in my experience. I believe the White Leghorns lay the best but I didn’t want White birds because of hawk issues., so we have beautiful Brown Leghorns. Read more ...

Golden Legbars The Golden Legbar is a vary rare British auto-sexing chicken breed. It is a light breed great for laying. The Legbar was created and standardised in 1945,  bred from Brown Leghorn and Barred Plymouth Rock and they are now their own ‘stand alone’ breed.’  Read more ...

Eggs without industrial grains

It’s obvious it’s easy enough to feed chickens in a way that keeps them alive…. We can all do that. It’s easy enough to even let a hen go clucky and raise your replacements. If you’re willing to buy shaver chickens and commercial feed it’s even easy enough to keep them laying for a few months of the year, even quite a few months.. With a little more luck or skill some are even able to keep their chickens laying  for even longer.  It is my experience however that managing heritage chickens  for the long haul, so that you get maximum eggs, and or a good meat bird, as well as replacements of such a standard that we actually keep a breed  is quite another matter….. and doing it without industrial chicken feed is another matter again…..

Getting your chickens off industrial grains

The most exciting thing in my garden this week has been in the chicken department! We made a commitment several months ago to getting ourselves (our chickens really, we already are) off industrial grains. We have been feeding the baby chickens chopped comfrey, mixed with chicken minerals (the fastest and easiest way to produce high Brix eggs while you get your pasture and chicken food up to scratch) and milk curds from the cows, with a small amount of organic whole grain mixed in, maybe 10% of the total volume. Read more ...

Thorny Croft Poultry Project

For 30 years our family has been actively involved in breeding heritage chickens. We were lucky enough to have begun this project whilst there were several old time “chicken men” still around in Northland where we lived then. Read more ...

Chicken compost 

My forest garden has been designed to provide our chickens and ducks with high protein seeds and berries and the chicken house is designed to be a container for a large compost heap made by the chickens. Read more .. 

Designing a chicken forage system

How to create a perennial, regenerative chicken feed system in cold temperate New Zealand. Details ripening times to help you select plants to provide food for your chickens. The chart is available to view in more detail here



Below are some short videos on the care of chickens and on feeding chickens using soldier fly larvae



“The bees are swarming!!” The interns, Koanga employees and Kotare villagers alike were all buzzing ourselves to the hives, excited, taking photos, and watching the show…read more!

Top Bar Bee Hives Do you like Kenyans or are you more of a Tanzanian type of person? By now, you’re probably going Huh? If I then told you they are both derived from Greeks and possibly Egyptians you’d be going ” what is he on about? ” Unless that is, you know a bit about top bar beekeeping…read more!

Kay's Honey

March 2018 and Kay's been harvesting her honey