Fun facts about farm animals


Did you know the chicken is the closest living relative to the t-rex? That seems crazy, but it’s true! Here are some more fun facts about farm animals that might surprise you!

  • Goats and sheep don’t have teeth on their upper jaw.  They have a hard palate that helps them grind their food.
  • Goats are great companions for other farm animals, including horses, cows, and chickens.
  • Sheep make a bleating sound. A baby lamb can identify its mother by her bleat.
  • One mature ewe (female sheep) produces 7 to 10 pounds of newly shorn wool a year – enough to make a man’s suit.
  • Goats were the first animal to be domesticated, according to many historians.
  • Some breeds of chickens can lay colored eggs. The Ameraucana and Araucana can lay eggs of green or blue.
  • The goat is among the cleanest of animals and is a much more selective feeder than cows, sheep, pigs, chickens and even dogs. Goats do eat many different species of plants but do not want to eat food that has been contaminated or that has been on the floor or the ground.
  • Chickens have over 200 distinct noises they can make for communicating.
  • Pigs are considered the 4th most intelligent animal (after chimpanzees, dolphins, and elephants).
  • A group of pigs is called a “sounder.”
  • Cows can recognize their names (though they may not come when called!).
  • Cows have a memory of about three years.
  • Cows are social animals who form bonds with each other. In a herd of cows, many will form cliques together.
  • Female sheep are called ewes, male sheep are called rams, and baby sheep are called lambs.
  • A female goat is called a doe.
  • Goats are great swimmers.
  • Some wild goats can climb trees and can walk along a ledge not much wider than a tightrope.
  • Female ducks are called hens and male ducks are called drakes.
  • Ducklings are born ready to leave the nest within hours of hatching – their eyes are open and they are able to find some of their own food.
  • Geese are faithful, mate for life, and mourn when their partner dies.
  • A male goose is called a gander, and a group of geese is called a gaggle.
  • Pigs can run 11 miles per hour – that’s faster than a six-minute mile!
  • Sheep have two toes on each foot.
  • Cows can sense a storm coming and will lie down.
  • Goats have rectangular pupils, allowing them to see well in the dark.
  • Ducks’ feathers are waterproof. A special gland near the tail produces oil that spreads and covers the outer coats of feathers.
  • Pigs don’t have sweat glands, so they must roll in mud to stay cool and prevent sunburns.
  • Abraham Lincoln created the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1862. At that time about 90 out of every 100 Americans were farmers. Today, that number has shrunk to just 2 out of every 100 Americans.

Why is learning about farming important?

  1. So many kids don’t know where their food comes from or what their food is. To them, pork and pig are totally different things. Vegetables are mystery edibles they are forced to eat. Everyone needs to understand where food comes from, how it is raised and the amazing process of bringing food from the farm to your plate.
  2. Farming is a big responsibility. Daily care for animals and plants is essential for raising and producing a quality, healthy and delicious product. Feeding and watering, cleaning and grooming, building and fixing are daily tasks that take place on every farm, every day. You learn why a farmer is so important and what their role is in the production of the food that feeds them, their families and their friends.
  3. Proper care for animals is essential in raising quality food. Animals need food, shelter, and TLC to grow healthy and happy. You learn why different animals receive different types of feed, require different types of shelter and need different care at different times. You learn to be aware, observant and alert to the different animal needs.
  4. There are some things that you just cannot learn from a book or in school. Farming teaches everyone life skills like raising food, working hard, communication, caring for others and much more.
  5. Being aware of your surroundings is the number one rule when farming. Milking cows, working on equipment, feeding pigs, catching chickens, working in the gardens all require safety awareness at all times. You learn to keep your guard up at all times to protect yourself, the animals and the farm around them.
  6. Spending a day, a week or a lifetime on a farm will change the way you see food. Food becomes a reward, not just something that comes from a grocery store. When you grow and raise your own food, you are more likely to waste less and eat a greater variety of foods.
  7. You learn about the circle of life. One of the hardest aspects of farming is the fact that where there is livestock there is dead stock. The cycle of life is hard to teach and even harder to accept. Being on the farm brings the joys of new life and the sadness of lost life. It is the cycle of life, hard and rewarding at the same time.
  8. You learn to have a greater awareness of weather and Mother Nature: Weather, of all sorts, affects farming on a daily basis. Rain is extremely important but too much is never good. Extreme heat or extreme cold affects everything and everyone on a farm. Farms are very dependent on Mother Nature yet there is no control over any of it. All you can do as a farmer is to be aware of what is forecast and prepare properly.
  9. Animals have a mind of their own and things change on a daily basis. As a farmer, you need to figure out ways to get chores done if animals, weather or equipment doesn’t want to cooperate. Fixing fences, pulling weeds, fixing watering systems so that everything on the farm continues to function are just some problems that farmers face daily.
  10. Farming teaches there are sweet rewards after all the hard work: Farming is one of the hardest jobs ever. It is physical, mental, stressful, and emotional but at the end of the day, it is so very rewarding.

According to the U.S. Department of State, American farmers are selling more of their high-quality products to the rest of the world than ever before in the history of U.S. agriculture. The United States, the world’s top food exporter, shipped over $139.5 billion in agricultural products abroad in 2018, a $1.5 billion increase over 2017. Agricultural exports support more than 1 million American jobs in farming and ranching, as well as jobs in processing, packaging and transporting the crops. Farmers are important and they really do feed America!