Critter Barn has acquired 27 acres of beautiful Michigan farmland in Zeeland Township, at 2950 80th Avenue (our new address). If you are looking for our site, take Chicago Drive "around the bend" past Zeeland Hospital, then travel South on 80th Avenue.
On August 12, 2016, our Critter Crew volunteers planted a sign on our new property: Future Site of Critter Barn! We broke ground on May 14, and with your support, we will begin building barns in July.
The most exciting piece of our new farm is blending the old with the new. If you visit a long-standing “family farm” today, you’ll see the old farmhouse, barns and coops, and off to one side, several slick new steel barns with automatic feed bins and huge fans. The combination of old and new captures the story of our cultural history, connects us to the future of agriculture, and demonstrates how farming has changed over time.
Today's agriculture is run by such a small segment of the population, that most of us are unaware of the work and care that goes into modern farming. Our new farm will be a rich learning ground for guests and a training ground for youth. Being informed about nutrition, herd management, animal care, and more will grow a better understanding and a respect for the work done on today's farms.
Please take a look at some of our plans.
Our welcome center will be a Post and Beam Monitor Barn, a style that allows natural light from the raised center. The barn will have a dedicated space for visitors with special needs, including a covered drop-off entrance. It will have a meeting space for classes or introductions to tours, bathrooms, a farm store, welcome area, volunteer headquarters, plus a generous open area to sit, eat and relax in the center of the barn.
From the ground to the table, Critter Barn connects people with the story of how our food is produced. We have milked goats at our current farm but look forward to our own free-stall barn and milking parlor for dairy cows. You will meet newborn calves and the milking cows as you walk along the feeding line. Watching cows munch their mixed feed ration or settle down on a bed of sand, will teach everyone about the needs of a healthy cow. Once in the milking parlor, you will see a milking demonstration and enjoy a milk or cheese snack, compliments of United Dairy Industries of Michigan (UDIM).
Once saved for holiday meals, the turkey has become a pantry staple for many who appreciate its low fat and high protein content. In turn, Americans are gobbling up twice as much turkey per person as in the 1970s.
Our 50-foot tunnel ventilation building will host 100 turkeys who will finish out at 40 to 50 pounds at 21 weeks of age, while our heated side room will hold the baby poults until they are 6 weeks old. Our educational room, a unique entrance to the barn, will feature a tribute to the late Harold Walcott, former Turkey industry leader from Allendale. He was a dedicated farmer who made sure there would always be plenty of the gobblers to go around.
Chickens that are raised for meat are called “broilers.” These chickens are typically white and are bred specifically for optimal health and size to produce a quality product for the consumer. At our new farm, we will raise broiler chickens in a 50-foot model house where the birds will roam, explore, eat, and commune with other chickens.
Anyone familiar with Critter Barn has enjoyed holding baby chicks. These popular little pullets and cocklings are actually baby broiler chickens.
Our educational room will demonstrate how major farms produce the number #1 most popular meat in our country.
Visitors will be surprised when they step into our Layer hen building. Plans are enhanced by local equipment manufacturer (Big Dutchmans's) NATURA Step aviary system. This bird-friendly layer management provides free range indoor egg production, in our "small" house. The aviary's stepped design makes it easy for birds to access and ensures that hens easily accept the system. You will take an elevated pathway around a section of the system and enjoy "a birds-eye-view" of the entire process. Glass windows will provide bio-security but not keep guests from enjoying the activity of the hens.
Our treasured, historic barn will eventually be taken down and usable lumber will be utilized in the construction of new barns and small livestock coops on the new farm. We will see reminders of our old gambrel barn in the walls, doors, entryways and support beams throughout the new facility. We have hundreds of pieces of fencing and other usable items that will be moving with us. So even though the farm will be new, there will be plenty of reminders of the original Critter Barn around the farm.
My vision for our new farm includes all of you!
Just as we'll gather pieces of the original Critter Barn to re-purpose at the new farm,
our friendships of 28 years move with us as well. From the friends who first painted our barn and gave us animals, to those of you who fill our parking lot every day, to the children and adults who volunteer every week, this new farm is for you!
To our donors, supporters, and industry partners who have sustained this farm, the new farm is for you. We invite our community to join the journey of learning through the stories and happenings that will continue at the new farm. We look forward to your partnership and participation!
Founder, Executive Director
Our goal is to build the new farm without any debt. We are engaged in an exciting campaign that will open he doors to an amazing family farm facility, destined to impact and inspire generations to come.
We need your financial support to accomplish this goal.
We are inviting you to be a part of the historic campaign to
complete this project. We are truly grateful for every dollar of support.
Please consider a personal or business donation today.