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Animal Encounters


Free for members and with general admission.

The outdoor experience areas, including Animal Encounters, are closed for the season and will open again on March 26, 2015. Please visit the indoor experience areas, Discovery Station, Create.Connect and Craft Corner, for year round fun and exploration.


Animal Encounters News

Rare breeds at Conner Prairie: Find out about our rare breeds and what Conner Prairie is doing to help conserve these animals.

In the barn, get up close to your favorite farm friends! Pet lambs, goats and calves. Conner Prairie animal specialists are on hand to assist and share their expertise about our historic breeds of livestock and how Conner Prairie plays an important role in preserving them

New animals are born all season, so visit often to meet the newest members of the Conner Prairie family!

About the Animal Encounters Program

Animal Encounters lets guests have face-to-face encounters with our livestock. We maintain selected breeds which have contributed to Indiana and Midwestern farming. By talking with our knowledgeable staff, guests can learn about individual animals, animal husbandry and the importance of livestock to our daily lives. Guests on occasion may be able to help bottle-feed a calf or brush a lamb.

Did You Know...?
 
  • One of the breeds of cattle here has a long history in this country, but currently there are only 15 left, three of them here at Conner Prairie.
  • Our breed of hogs dates back to a Spanish colony established off the coast of Georgia in 1529.
  • Six of our breeds of livestock are on the rare breeds list, with three in the critical category, meaning there are less than 2,000 in existence.
  • A single cow produces about 90 glasses of milk a day, or 200,000 glasses of milk in her lifetime.
  • A hen in 1860 produced 160 eggs in her lifetime; today, a hen produces 325 eggs.

Conserving Rare Breeds

Since at least the mid-1980s, Conner Prairie has helped ensure the future of agriculture through the genetic conservation and promotion of endangered breeds of livestock and poultry. They became endangered because agriculture changed or they may have fallen out of favor with progressive farmers (but still have desirable traits such as good mothering skills or disease resistance.) These rare breeds are part of our national heritage, connecting us to our past and representing the earth's bio-diversity.

Some rare breeds you may encounter on your next visit:

Cattle

English Longhorn Cattle: The creamy white horns were treasured by manufacturers of buttons, cups, cutlery and lamps. Fine slivers of clear horn were a poor mans' glass and many a household were grateful for the end product of these elegant long horns.
The breed is so rare it does not meet the criteria as a viable breed on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy conservation list. This breed has been In North America since the 1500s.
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Randall Lineback Cattle: Critically rare.There are fewer than 150 animals distributed among a few herds. This breed has been In North America since the 1600s.

Dual Purpose Shorthorn Cattle: Critically rare. This breed has been in North America since the late 1700s. Pure American strains are the conservation priority in the United States.

Hogs

Ossabaw Island Hog: Critically rare. This breed has been In North America since the 1500s. Ossabaw hogs may be as small as 100 pounds, but they are able to store astounding amounts of body fat in order to survive during the seasons when there is little to eat.

Sheep

Tunis Sheep: Somewhat rare. This breed has been in North America since the 1700s. Tunis are striking in appearance, with red faces and legs and ivory colored fleeces. Fun fact: President George Washington kept Tunis sheep.

Horned Dorset Sheep: Threatened breed. This breed has been in the US since 1860. This is the only breed of British sheep that can be bred to give birth in both the spring and fall, unlike other breeds that only give birth in the spring. Fun Fact: Both males and females have horns.

Leiscester Longwool sheep: Critically rare. This breed has been In North America since the 1700s. This sheep was specially-bred in the 1700s to be fast-growing and for higher quality fleece.
Fun Fact: George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned this breed.