Thorny Croft for Heritage Cows, Sheep, Pigs and Poultry

Since 1990

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.

That means we choose animals that suit us and animals that we can take care of best in our situation, and animals we can manage in a way that enhances their lives and importantly the herd, flock or flock, they are part of.

We believe these attributes make them valuable to others as well.

Dexter Cows

Our cows are dear to our hearts and we have been developing this herd of Dexter’s for approx. 40 years. I think we were next after Alex Meads to bring the semen into NZ) Originally we chose Dexter’s because we were on heavy clay in Northland they were much lighter than most other breeds we thought they would damage the land less in winter. That definitely proved to be true.

Secondly we chose them because our pasture was rough and would never be ryegrass and clover, and Dexter’s were well known to be the best converters out there of rough pasture to milk and meat, over 40 odd years that has also proved to be true.

How quiet they are depends on how much they are handled, we have bred for the quiet cows, and always focused on the dual purpose milking/meat Dexters rather than one or the other.

They have been managed organically the whole time we have had them and we have never drenched them at all.

We have noticed that when managed following management intensive grazing practices, they really thrive, and gain weight very fast.

Taiamai went to Germany a few years ago and did an apprenticeship with a traditional German butcher and at that butchery they regarded Dexter’s as the best breed of all and paid a premium because of the meat quality and also the small size of the animals makes then far easier for the butchers to deal with. As a home kill animal it is far easier to deal with.

Our herd has reached maximum size now so each year we will have some to sell, Autumn 2021. if you are interested in a bull or a few cows with a bull or any other option please contact Taiamai on 021- 1436854



Wiltshire Horn Sheep

Taiamai had been breeding his flock of Wiltshire’s sheep for 18 years and he now has a small flock that have been selected for their ability to thrive without any drenching or injections or even regular minerals on poor soils. The pumice sand soils we are no won was hard for them initially, with poor lambing 5’s but with hard culling and natural selection, and being very careful about bringing in rams we are very happy with our results. Each year we will have a small number of rams for sale and possibly a few ewes as well. If you are interested please ph Taiamai on 021 b1436854. Sheep also thrive under management intensive grazing regime.



Kune kune pigs

Our extremely lucky Kune kune is currently completely overwhelmed by the food falling from the trees in her pig/chicken forage paddock. It is so so exciting to see after 6 years of waiting just what the potential might be for keeping pigs 100% industrial food free. We chose Kune’s because they survive well over Winter on only grass. We planted a pig forage paddock of around 1 hectare with the aim of discovering just how many sows/piglets/pigs we could support in a forest of oaks, chestnuts, hazels, and lots of apples sand plums peaches etc. While the trees were small there was only grass and 1 sow with 2-3 of her young to porker stage. Six years on they’re all so fat, and unable to eat all the dropping apples chestnuts and acorns, so our challenge next year is to get the piglets born at the right time, early Spring so they are finished when the acorns finish. We will be carrying more stock units in there next season as well.

We have two beautiful weaners for sale NOW!


Our family has a long story with chickens. We home schooled our children and two of them fell in love with poultry who became key parts of their lives. This story has recently taken a new turn. After over 30 years with the best brown Leghorns, Legbars and Golden Wyandotte’s in the country we realised that, although we loved these birds and they became very tame and close to us, they essentially had not been bred to do well without an industrial food supply. They were wall outstanding egg producers etc etc, but they were all also heavy feeders, requiring a large amount of food to do well.

As we have been developing forest gardens and trialling other sources of food we have realised that we badly need chickens , and ducks, that are great foragers, and excellent converters of food to eggs or meat. We did a lot of research, and owe a lot to ken Vincent, one of the NZ’s most amazing poultry breeders from way back., and had a lot of experience and we believe three breeds we have now are certainly among the very best efficient converters of food to eggs, and meat, and ideally suited to free range poultry systems where the aim to is to get off industrial food .they are all excellent foragers, quiet birds and amazing layers. Golden campiness, Sicilian Buttercups and Araucana’s! You’ll be hearing lots more about these 3 breeds,, so keep a watch out.

We’ll be breeding and selecting with these breeds for many years to come, however we have around 30 Golden Campine pullets for sale now and roosters if required.

We are also breeding Black Indian Runner ducks, Cayuga ducks, and Chinese Weeder Geese., especially for self reliance in regenerative systems. We are planning on making these available each Summer/Autumn beginning 2022

Check out the Koanga Booklet titled Egg production in Regenerative systems to learn how you also can design a chicken forest garden, or add chicken forage to your own forest garden.