We had such a good time on our trip to the farm, and while we were there, we learned a few things too. Kids ask great questions don’t they? Some of their questions have inspired this Science Sunday post on Farm Animals, but to learn more about farm animals, check out our farm animal book review. Here are some of the most interesting farm animal facts we have learned.
Let’s talk about sheep first. Did you know that sheep do not have upper teeth? They only have lower teeth and a hard dental pad on the top. When they are grazing in the field they rip and tear out the grass, they don’t bite through. Ewe yuck! (Get it?!)
Sheep are very skittish and their natural instinct is to flee from any perceived dangers. They never walk in a straight line so that they can see their backside first with one eye and then with the other, always on the lookout for danger. There are over 1,000 breeds of sheep in the world in many different enviornments. For instance, some sheep enjoy climbing up steep mountain sides, while others enjoy the flat lowlands. Mike and I went to Ireland in 2006, before kids, and there were sheep all over. We even climbed a mountain in a state park, and there were wild sheep and goats grazing on the mountainside. We saw sheep in the middle of the road, and sheep with colors painted on their backs. We were really perplexed by the paint splotches on the backs of the sheep until someone explained that was how the farmers could tell their sheep apart from another farmers. Each farmer in an area had their own color to mark which sheep were theirs in case they were mixed up or escaped their pasture. And believe me, we saw a lot of sheep that had escaped their pastures!
When we were looking at the cows at Michelle’s farm, the kids asked a great question, do all boy cows (bulls) have horns? And I was surprised by the answer . . . no, not all bulls have horns. Depending on the breed you can have bulls (boys) with or without horns and cows (girls) with or without horns. On Michelle’s farm they have Angus cows, and neither the cows nor the bulls have horns in that breed. Good question kids!
Another thing I learned, cows do not sleep standing up. They lay down to sleep and are able to get back up on their own. According to Wikipedia, they only sleep about 4 hours a day. I could really get a lot done if I only needed 4 hours of sleep! I thought cow-tipping (pushing over a sleeping cow) was a real thing, but actually it is just a myth. When a cow is upright it is awake not asleep, and would react to someone trying to push it over, and cows weigh so much it would be impossible for a single person to push one over.
Cows require lots of water. Some say they drink the equivalent of a bath tub full of water every day!
Do you know any interesting farm animal facts? The more I get and explore, the more I learn, and I love that! Your kids will get a kick out of these fun farm animal facts, and you will be amazed when they start spitting them out next time you see some sheep or cows. Never stop exploring! Come back on Tuesday for a fun farm animal craft to wrap up the farm animal unit.