How many of you have been to a farm before? It’s spring time at Coverdale Farm Preserve, which means there are many families here! Do you know what animals might be found on a farm? Anna and I spent some time with the baby farm animals a few weeks ago. Besides being totally overwhelmed with cuteness, we learned a lot about these animals that we didn’t know before. Check out some of these awesome facts and come on a farm tour with us!
Our first stop was the sheep pasture. We visited with the mother sheep, called an ewe, and her two lambs. Ewes will generally have one lamb at a time but sometimes, as with these lambs, they have twins (and sometimes even triplets!)
The twin lambs, a boy and a girl with their mother.
These lambs are a combination of two different breeds (kind of like how some dogs can be two different breeds mixed together). They are a mixture of Dorset sheep, which are sheep with white faces, and Suffolk sheep, which are sheep with blackish faces. The mixture gives these lambs freckly faces, which make them pretty unique!
Before the lambs are allowed to be out in the pasture, the farmer will keep the lambs in with their mother so that the mother can bond with the lambs. This way, the mother will be able to recognize her lambs and keep them safe even when they are all out with the rest of the flock. So how do these mothers bond with their babies? One way the mother can identify her lambs is by smelling the lamb’s scat. After the babies drink the mother’s milk, the smell of her milk will be in the lamb’s scat. The mother recognizes this very distinct smell and knows that the lamb is hers. (Gross, but cool, right?) After the lambs are about a month old, they are finally old enough to go out to the pasture to socialize with the other sheep in the flock. These lambs went out to pasture about a week after Anna and I visited.
These little lambs were very wiggly, I had a hard time getting a good picture of them!
Next, Anna and I went to look at the chickens. Baby chicks grow very quickly and grow bigger every week. You can really tell the difference between a recently hatched chick and one who is a few weeks old.
Check out the changes (especially in the feathers) of these chicks Anna is holding! Ages range from 1 week, 2 weeks, and 3 weeks from left to right.
After 1 week they look like classic fluffy chicks. After 2 weeks they grow some of their mature feathers on their wings and on the tops of their heads. After 3 weeks they are much longer and leaner and have many more mature feathers throughout their bodies – they look like mini adult chickens!
At Coverdale, we have 5 different kinds of chickens, including blue hens! I couldn’t resist taking a picture with one of the adorable week old blue hens and give a shout out to my alma mater University of Delaware!
This little guy is ready to be a Fightin’ Blue Hen like me!
After the chickens, we headed to check out the pigs. The mother pig is called a sow and the baby pigs are called piglets. Each sow will have a litter of piglets anywhere from 8-15 of them. (That’s a lot of piglets!) Each piglet chooses a teat, what the mother’s milk comes from, and that will be the only one they use. Stronger piglets will take the milk closest to the heart where more milk is pumped out, while the smaller piglets will take the ones farther from the heart. Piglets drink a lot of milk and grow one pound a day! Do you grow that fast?
These English Black piglets were pretty sleepy when Anna and I were hanging out with them. You can see one piglet taking a drink of milk before he gets ready to take a nap with his siblings!
Anna and I headed to our last stop on the farm to check out the cows – our favorites! First we went to visit Valentino, the White-faced Hereford Beef Calf that was born in February. (Click here for the blog Michele Wales, Farm Program Coordinator, wrote about Valentino’s birth a couple months back on the DNS adult blog – The Nature of Delaware!)
Check out Valentino’s picturesque pasture. There sure is a lot of grass to eat!
Valentino spends his time in the pasture with his mother and his “Auntie” dairy cow eating grass in the field and hay from the outdoor barn When he goes into the barn with them, he will eat grain in the stone barn where he sleeps, while the farmers do their chores.
Valentino is never too far behind his mother!
After spending some time with Valentino, we then spent some time with the two dairy calves. These calves come from Woodside Farm…you know, that place with the great ice cream. The farmers there allow us to use them for education programs at Coverdale.
Say hello to this dairy calf!
Most dairy cows are completely brown, but this little guy has got quite a bit of white on him!
Dairy cows only drink milk for the first 3 weeks of their life and then begin to eat organic grain or hay that we produce on the farm. Coverdale’s adult dairy cow, a Jersey cow, produces about six gallons of milk per day! These baby Jersey calves are bottle fed twice and day and are happy to drink her milk. This way, the adult cow is able to be milked so that her milk will not go to waste since we cannot drink it, and the Woodside calves get a sweet treat for breakfast and dinner every day.
Of course, Anna and I couldn’t help but pet these baby cows. Just look at those faces!
The Delaware Nature Society has designated 2013 as the “Year of Coverdale Farm Preserve.” This means that we are focusing on making fun programs for you to discover all the cool happenings at the farm. From baby animals, like these, to gardening, to cooking classes, there are a ton of programs and events available for all interests.
Join us on Wednesdays (now through September 25th) for Farm Fun Days! Take a self-guided visit to see Coverdale’s animals, dig in the vegetable garden, and test your skills at a farm scavenger hunt. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy under the grand old oak trees! Farm Fun Days are free for Delaware Nature Society members and cost $5 per adult/$3 per children (ages 2+) for non-members. No pre-registration is required.
We look forward to celebrating this “farmtastic” year with you!