When you picture farm life, you might envision open fields and a beautiful red barn. You might picture cows grazing, chickens pecking and horses galloping along the fence line. Preschool children still learn fun songs like, “Old McDonald” and “B-I-N-G-O.” But not many learn fun farm life facts about the animals. Here’s your chance to impress and teach your children about farm animals, while improving your trivia skills.
Enjoying Farm Life with Chickens, Ducks, and Turkeys
More and more people are becoming backyard farmers by raising chickens. But did you know chickens are not vegetarians? They enjoy a natural diet of seeds, grass, and grain as well as insects, lizards, toads, and even mice. Chickens can make more than 24 unique noises. It is believed they communicate about everything from food to danger.
With a quack, quack here, and a quack, quack there. Here a quack, there a quack. Everywhere a quack, quack. Of course, you must learn about ducks. Did you know ducks can sleep with one eye open? They can turn off half their brain and remain alert for predators. A male duck is called a drake and a female is a hen. Ducks live on every continent except Antarctica.
Your family might make memories each November as you eat one of the 46 million turkeys consumed in the United States on Thanksgiving Day, according to the National Turkey Federation. But, your children will be fascinated to learn that a turkey’s gender can be determined by its poop. Yes, you read that correctly. Male turkeys, known as gobblers, have a spiral-shaped poop. And, female turkeys, known as hens, poop in the shape of the letter, “J.” (I bet you are headed to the petting zoo section of the zoo this week to double-check this fact. I know I am.)
Farm Life Facts About Cows, Horses, and Pigs
As many families drive down the highway or along a country road, everyone bursts into synchronized “mooing” sounds. That’s not just our family, right? The epitome of farm life animals is the cow. The Highland Cow is the oldest registered breed of cattle in the world. They are the longhaired cows from Scotland.
All cows are female. Males are known as bulls or a steer. Cows have an amazing sense of smell. They can detect odors up to six miles away. The Holstein, the adorable black-and-white cows, grow to about 1,500 pounds. They are about 90 pounds at birth.
Even though there are more than 600 horse breeds in the world, they are all descendants of Arabian and Turkoman horses. Horses live about 25 to 30 years. Horses can sleep lying down and standing up. Newborn horses can run within 24 hours after birth.
When you think of pigs on a farm, you might think about Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web befriending all of the animals in the barn. It’s true that could really happen. Well, maybe not the talking animals part, but pigs are quite social. They form strong bonds with other pigs, other animals, and humans, too. Pigs are considered to be smarter than dogs. Research shows that they can learn tricks and basic commands, as well as play complex games, use tools, and recognize their own name. Pigs typically weigh between 300 and 700 pounds.
Farm Life Fun with Sheep, Goats, and Cats
Baa, baa black sheep have you any wool? More than 25 million pounds of wool are produced annually in the United States. An average sheep provides 7.2 pounds of wool when shorn. One pound of wool can make 10 miles of yarn. Sheep have rectangular pupils so they can see all around them except for directly behind them. Their unique pupils let sheep keep a look out for prey even if they are grazing. There are more than 1,000 breeds of sheep.
There are more than 200 breeds of goats that range in size from 75 to 250 pounds. Goats have rectangular pupils that allow them to see more than 320 degrees around them.
Baby goats are called kids and when a female goat gives birth it is called kidding. Seriously, it’s when a female goat, known as a nanny or a doe, gives birth it really is called “kidding.” And, in case you were wondering, a male goat is called a billy or a buck.
Barn cats keep the rodent and bug population in check. Cats have 230 bones while humans only have 206 bones. Cats can produce more than 100 different vocalizations, while dogs only do 10 different vocalizations.
Abraham Lincoln had four cats that lived in the White House. President Bill Clinton’s cat, Socks, received more letters than Clinton himself. And in case you were wondering, a group of kittens is called a “kindle,” and cat breeders are called “catteries.”
The Farm Life
The number of farms in the United States continues to decrease, yet we continue to romanticize farm life in movies, shows, and books. Many dream of fresh air and wide-open spaces. We picture the perfect red barn and adorable farm animals softly mooing, whinnying, quacking, and clucking from the barn. We imagine that life is better on the farm.
Of course, being a farmer is a very important and difficult job. The number of farms in the United States decreased dramatically in 2020, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. It’s important to learn farm life facts about animals, crops and farmers not just for trivia, but so we can support farms across the country.
Sources: BCSPCA, Carolina Coops, The Cape Coop Farm, Charlottesville Cat Care Clinic, Clover Meadows Beef, Farm Flavor, Highland Titles, Horsey Hooves, National Turkey Federation, Smithsonian Magazine.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on Finding A Family Pet: Animals That Are A Great Fit And Ones To Avoid
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