Behind the Scenes

Ellen Van Zanten - Experience Specialist
Hey all! It’s finally springtime (even though we never really had much of a winter)! We in the Ag Staff are as busy as can be, getting the barns ready, building new fences, and most importantly making sure there are baby animals for you to visit once we open!
Until I came to work at Conner Prairie, I never really gave much thought into how much planning ahead it takes to have babies ready by spring. Knowing the gestation periods of all of our animals, we can’t just breed them any time we want. We don’t want them to have babies in the winter when there are no guests around, so we have to time everything just right. For example, a cow’s gestation period is about 9 months. So if we want to have a calf while we’re open to the public in say, May, then we have to artificially inseminate by August or September. However, our goats and our sheep have a gestation of only 5 months, which means we don’t have to worry about them getting bred until November or December. Our Livestock manager, Kevyn Miller, tries to spread the births out as much as possible so there are at least a couple of babies to see and visit throughout the season.
By opening weekend, March 31st, there will be enough adorable new-born or nearly new-born babies to break the scale by which you measure cuteness. We already have a spunky little Shorthorn heifer-calf in the Animal Encounters Barn with loads of personality. When we open she will be about a month old. And probably by the time you read this, we will have a small handful of lambs and kids on the property as well.

My personal favorite, I have to say, are the baby pigs. Kevyn will be very quick to tell you that they are, in fact, baby pigs and not piglets as Winnie the Pooh would have you believe. Unfortunately this is not a baby animal we get to pet. Our Ossabaw sows are so protective of their young that we have not yet figured out a safe way to let folks get up close and personal with them. Not even the staff gets to touch one! These baby pigs, however, more than make up for that on adorableness and personality alone. Hopefully, if everything goes smoothly, we will get to see some of that personality in action soon.

Well, we in the Ag Staff are looking forward to seeing all of you here at the end of the month, though we understand we might not be as cute as a new-born lamb.

Posted: 3/14/2012 2:09:25 PM by Ellen Van Zanten | with 0 comments

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