WHO LIVES ON OUR FARM?
Critter Barn is home to over 200 farm animals and farm birds. The main criteria for animals in our programs are that they play a supportive role and provide endless opportunities for teaching, for recreational therapy, for interaction, and demonstrations.
Feeder pigs, baby dairy calves and leghorn hens are donated by local producers to raise on our farm. Additional poultry is purchased directly from hatcheries.
Domesticated animals such as sheep, goats, and rabbits who are born here, plus roosters, Banty chickens, potbellied pigs, a horse, donkey, cow, and a pony, who were raised here, make up our animal residents. These animals and birds provide close contact with our Special Friends program and hands-on learning for all of our education activities.
Critter Barn raises three breeds of sheep: Suffolk, Colored Corriedale and Romney sheep. Our ewes are raised on our farm, so our flock allows guests to enter their pens. Our ewes are bred on the farm in October, and begin lambing in mid March. They are sheared in February, and you're invited to watch! Our rams are named Sampson, Moses and Joseph.
Critter Barn's dairy goats love people. They are accustomed to the routine of milking and their kids are a delight. After the does freshen or give birth in the spring, they are milked 2 times a day like most dairy cows. You should try milking a goat when you visit the farm!
Feeder pigs grow fast! We're so grateful to the Sietsema family for donating 4 commercial pigs twice each year. They enjoy playing in the dirt in our old-fashioned pen. You're invited to spray water on the hogs on hot summer days! There's nothing happier than a pig in mud!
We raise three breeds of small goats. Pygmy goats and Nigerian goats jump on the rooftops of their huts. Little goats have joyful personalities and are sure to be your favorite at the farm. Angora goats with beautiful curly mohair are often mistaken for sheep.
Newborn calves arrive at the Critter Barn when they are two to four days old. We're so grateful to Crossroad Dairy for providing these adorable bull calves. Guests and students help with bottle-feeding since the mother cows are on the milking line at the dairy farm.
Raising male dairy calves for beef gives the Critter Barn an opportunity to share the harvest with others. Our bottle fed calves reach an impressive size in their first year.
Riding horseback used to be the main way of transportation. The relationship of humans and horses is based on trust.
Jake and Ms Mary are the only two original members of the Critter Barn team. Jake is 31 years old, and has lived his entire life around children at the Critter Barn. He was adopted from the Poest farm in Zeeland when he was three months old. Donkeys are known for kicking and being stubborn, but old Jake is very gentle.
Our Leghorn girls produce a snow-white egg almost every day. These Italian birds came from the port city of Livorno, Italy in the early 1800's, and were called Leghorns (English for Livorno). Leghorns come in many different colored feathers, but they all lay white eggs.
Cornish-Rock-Hybrid-Cross chickens are bred for their meat and are ready for market and the cooking pot in just 6 to 7 weeks. By 8 weeks, they are a heavy roaster, dressing at 8 to 10 pounds. Did you know that chicken is the Number 1 meat consumed in our country?
Hens and pullets, roosters and cocklings, layers and eggs! There are more chickens in the world than any other bird! Countless breeds of Layer Hens who weigh 6 to 8 pounds supply eggs for everyone around the world!
Gobble Gobble! Our country's Thanksgiving Day favorite struts around and puffs up its feathers and tail! The Critter Barn has Bronze and Royal Palm Turkeys, and raises a few for the Thanksgiving holiday.
There are over 60 breeds of rabbits in the US and over 300 breeds worldwide. That's a LOT of Cuteness!
Our popular "kitty corral" houses many cuddly, friendly cats. The smallest members of the cat family are popular pets, but on a farm? They are the mice hunters!
Our domestic geese are the watchdogs of our farm. They honk at everything that moves!
Be sure to visit the lucky duck's pool party this summer. We have domestic ducks who do not fly but love to swim! They have bills, webbing, oil for their feathers, and love to quack!