Animal news and reviews
Animal news and reviews
At Acorn Farm we keep bullocks. They live on the Moses fields and spend most of their time munching grass!
- An adult male is a bull and an adult female is a cow. A newborn is called a calf. Bullocks are castrated males.
- A group of cattle is called a herd
- Different breeds of cattle are used for meat and milk production. Many calves are a cross between a beef breed and a dairy breed.
- A cow is pregnant for 9.5 months.
- Cows need to have a calf before they will start to produce milk. The production of milk is known as lactation.
- A cow can produce far more milk in her lifetime than a human can consume – around 20,000 full glasses!
- All cattle must have an identification tag in each ear. They also have passports and must never travel anywhere, e.g. to market, without them!
- Leather is made from tanned cow hide. Tanning is a process which involves drying the skin.
- You can lead a cow upstairs but not downstairs!
- Cattle are colour blind, which means that bulls can’t see red!
We have lots of sheep at Acorn Farm, including a ram. We usually have plenty of lambs to see during the spring!
- An adult male is called a tup or a ram and an adult female is a ewe. A newborn is called a lamb.
- A group of sheep is called a flock.
- A sheep is pregnant for 5 months. Twins are common and occasionally a sheep will have triplets or quadruplets.
- Sheep fat is known as tallow and can be used to make candles and soap.
- The removal of a sheep’s fleece is known as shearing.
- Wool from different breeds can be used for different things, e.g. wool from Herdwick sheep is very coarse and hardwearing and is often used to make carpets.
- Sheep only have teeth on their lower jaw. Their upper jaw is a hard toothless pad.
- Sheep have poor eyesight but an excellent sense of hearing.
- Sheep have 4 stomachs!
At Acorn Farm, we keep different types of pigs, including rare breeds. At present we have a Tamworth boar and a Saddleback sow. We also have, as their name suggests, smaller micropigs!
- An adult male is a boar and an adult female is a sow. A newborn is called a piglet.
- A group of pigs is called a herd.
- On average a sow will produce 2 litters of piglets per year. The average number of piglets per litter is 10!
- A sow has 14 teats, so she can feed her large litters of piglets.
- A sow is pregnant for 113 days, which is 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days!
- The meat produced from pigs is called pork. If it is cured, it is known as ham or bacon.
- Pigs are unable to sweat as they have no sweat glands in their skin.
- They can suffer from sunburn and will cover themselves in mud to prevent this.
- They are distantly related to hippos!
- Despite their reputation, pigs are clean animals. They sleep in one area of the pen which they keep clean and dry and use a separate area as a toilet.
- A pig’s squeal can reach 115 decibels – louder than a supersonic plane!
- Pigs can run a mile in 7.5 minutes when running at top speed!
Our horses are called William, who is a gelding, and Rosie, who is a mare. During weekends and school holidays, they can often be found giving horse rides to visitors!
- An adult male is a stallion and an adult female is a mare. A castrated male is called a Gelding. A newborn is called a foal.
- Horses were first domesticated over 10,000 years ago.
- There are over half a million horses in the UK.
- Horses are herbivores. This means that they only eat food that comes from plants.
- A horse will eat approximately 7 times its own body weight of food in a year.
- Horses can’t vomit!
- Horses are measured in hands. A hand is 10cm or 4 inches.
- A farrier is the name of a person who trims horses’ feet and puts their metal shoes on.
- A mare is pregnant for 11 months.
- The average life expectancy for a horse is 20 to 30 years, although the oldest horse on record lived to 62 years old.
- All horses need to have passports and must never travel anywhere, e.g. to shows, without them.
- Horses have monocular vision, which means that they can see separate views with each eye at the same time.
- Horses have 175 bones in their body!
- Horses can sleep standing up as they’re able to lock their kneecaps to prevent their legs from bending!
Acorn Farm’s goats are firm favourites with lots of our visitors, staff and volunteers because they are so mischievous! We have several nanny goats, as well as some smaller pygmy goats. We breed from some of our goats and often have goat kids on the farm. We use goat’s milk to make lovely ice cream, which we sell in our shop.
- An adult male is a billy and an adult female is a nanny. A newborn is called a kid.
- A group of goats is called a herd.
- Nanny goats need to have a kid before they will start producing large quantities of milk.
- Goat’s milk is easier for humans to digest than cow’s milk and can be used in much the same way – to make cheese, to drink and even to make ice cream like we do here at Acorn Farm!
- Most goat kids (male and female) will start to grow horns shortly after they are born. These are removed by the vet for safety reasons. Goats that don’t grow horns are known as polled.
- Nanny goats shouldn’t eat any vegetables which belong to the cabbage family as it will make their milk taste like cabbage!
- Goat’s eyes have rectangular pupils.
- Goats only have 2 teats, while cows have 4.
Our meerkats were introduced to the farm in July 2012. They are two brothers and were very kindly donated to us by Knowsley Safari Park. Our two little meerkats have quickly become very popular with visitors and staff alike because they are very entertaining to watch!
- Meerkats are a type of mongoose from the plains of southern Africa.
- They usually live in large communities called “mobs”.
- Meerkats often stand upright on their hind legs to survey their surroundings.
- The males in the group take turns at being sentry (guard). They stand upright on the highest ground and keep lookout for any danger such as predators.
- In most mobs, the alpha female is the leader and she is known as the queen. She and her mate are the only members of the group allowed to have babies.
- A baby meerkat is called a pup
- Meerkats are very clever and even have their own language to communicate with each other.
- Meerkats make tunnels and burrows under the ground to sleep in. They have long claws to help them to dig.
At Acorn Farm, we have rabbits of lots of different colours and sizes and they often come out to meet our visitors during our Small Animal Petting sessions! The first animal we ever had here at the farm was a rabbit called Sid back in 1985!
- An adult male is a buck and an adult female is a doe. A newborn is called a kitten.
- There are around 50 different breeds of rabbits in the UK.
- Rabbits can weigh from 1kg-8kg
- Dwarf breeds can live for 10-12 years whereas giant breeds only live for 4-5 years.
- Rabbits can breed from 4 months old.
- A rabbit pregnancy lasts for just 31 days and the average litter size is between 4-12 kittens!
- When baby rabbits are born, they have no fur, can’t hear and won’t open their eyes for about 10 days.
- Rabbits have been known to reach speeds of 44mph!
- Rabbits are more closely related to horses than they are to mice. They share a similar diet and method of digesting food.
- Rabbits have been on the planet for over 3 and a half million years!
- A rabbit’s teeth continue to grow throughout its life.
Guinea pigs are very gentle animals and will often sit quite happily with our visitors during our Small Animal Petting sessions!
Guinea pig facts:
- An adult male is a boar and an adult female is a sow. A newborn is called a pup.
- A group of guinea pigs is called a herd.
- Despite their name, guinea pigs aren’t a member of the pig family and they don’t come from Guinea!
- The wild ancestor of the domestic guinea pig lives wild in the forests and grasslands of South America where they are considered a delicacy to eat.
- Sailors introduced guinea pigs to Europe from South America as they were an easily transportable source of fresh meat.
- Today people in Peru eat over 65 million guinea pigs per year.
- Guinea pigs are rodents, which means that their teeth continue to grow throughout their life and have to be worn down by gnawing.
- Guinea pigs usually live for 4-8 years.
- A guinea pig sow’s pregnancy lasts for 2 months, which is similar to cats and dogs.
- The average litter size is 2-4 pups.
- Pups are born with fur, a full set of teeth and open eyes. Newborns are also able to move around.
- Guinea pigs have a whole range of vocal noises!
- Guinea pigs digest their food twice by eating their own droppings!
You will see lots of chickens at Acorn Farm and we usually have chicks to see too! We sell our hen’s free-range eggs from our shop.
- An adult male is a cockerel and an adult female is a hen. A newly hatched chicken is called a chick.
- It takes 21 days for a fertilised hen’s egg to hatch and produce a chick.
- Hens start laying at about 5 months old and can lay 300 eggs per year!
- There are as many chickens on the planet as there are humans!
- It is not necessary to keep a cockerel if you want the hens to produce eggs.
- Hens need 17 hours of light per day to continue laying eggs.
- Hens need to have grit available to aid digestion and to make the shells of their eggs strong.
- Chickens sleep on perches inside their houses. Their feet are specially adapted so that once their toes have gripped the perch, the muscle locks to ensure that they don’t fall off!
- The chicken is the closest living relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex!
We have several different breeds of duck here at the farm and they can often be found waddling together by their pond!
- An adult male is a drake and an adult female is a duck. A newborn is called a duckling.
- It takes 28 days for a fertilised duck egg to hatch.
- They have webbed feet which are designed for swimming and act like paddles.
- They have no nerves or blood vessels in their feet, so they can’t feel the cold on their feet when swimming in icy water!
- Ducks can live up to 20 years.
- They have a gland near their tails which produces oil. They spread this over their outer feathers with their beak.
- Their outer oily feathers repel water and beneath this waterproof coat there are soft fluffy feathers which keep them warm.
- A duck’s quack doesn’t echo!
- They have excellent eyesight and can even see in colour.