Where’s the Beef?
At the Farm & Ranch Museum
Exhibitions at most museums require no food and water, nor are they typically vocal. A big part of what separates the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces from other museums is its livestock program. Each Spring the program expands when about 20 calves and a handful of lambs are born.
The museum features seven different breeds of beef cattle — Angus, Brahman, Brangus, Charolais, Corriente, Hereford, and Longhorn — as well as dairy cows (Holstein and Jersey), horses, sheep (Churro, Suffolk, Debouillet), goats (Boer and Angora), and donkeys.
There usually are anywhere from 60 to 80 head of cattle at the museum and all are registered.
New Mexico’s most unique museum has recently received some high praise for this program. The American Alliance of Museums accreditation reviewers were especially impressed by the museum’s livestock program when they visited the facility last year, calling it a “national model.”
“All aspects of the museum’s living collection program are excellent,” the reviewers said in their summary. “From our perspective, this aspect of the museum is a regional and perhaps national model that is strengthened and supported by the knowledge and skill of the well-trained staff. The housing and care of the animals and the specific goals of the live animal collection and its public education and interpretive programs directly supports the mission of the institution.”
“We run the program as a pure-bred cattle operation,” said Livestock Manager Greg Ball. “We try to raise the best possible individuals that we can.”
The Debouillet sheep are the museum’s newest additions and a breed that originated in New Mexico in the 1920s at the Punch Jones Ranch in Lea County. The Debouillet breed was created from Delaine-Merino and Rambouillet crosses. In an oral history interview in 2009, Mr. Jones talked about his father’s goal of combining the size and body type of the Rambouillet sheep with the wool of the Delaine-Merino.
Museum visitors can walk across the Historic Green Bridge to the “South 20” portion of the campus to see the animals on their own, or take a cart ride with a docent. It’s not uncommon for visitors to get to watch members of the livestock management staff on horseback working with the animals.
The NM Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum is open Monday–Saturday 9 a.m.– 5 p.m., Sunday 12–5 p.m. Barns close at 4 p.m. daily, visitors may view livestock until 5 p.m. Adults $5, Seniors (60+) $4, Children (4–17) $3, Active US military & Veterans $2, Children 3 and under free. The museum is located just off Interstate 25 in Las Cruces at 4100 Dripping Springs Road. Take the University Exit (Exit 1) and go east 1.5 miles.
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