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Baby Animals

On the Shaker Farm

A cool spring has followed a warm winter, but that cannot fool Mother Nature. Babies are being born right on time throughout the animal kingdom and this weekend Hancock Shaker Village in Hancock MA starts celebrating the tiny arrivals with its program, “Baby Animals on the Shaker Farm.”

“Our mission is for people to have fun, but we’re also a learning environment,” said Shawn Hancock, director of marketing and communication. “In addition to seeing the baby animals, it’s a matter of people learning about where their food comes from.”

“We’ve had five lambs born in the last couple days, pigmy goats and four calves. More animals are being loaned by the local 4-H. People will be able to see some very, very tiny babies and, if they are lucky, might even see a birth in action.”

She said the animals are usually calm about being on display, but that a nervous mother and baby are quickly secluded. “The farmers are pretty sensitive to what going on,” she said. “If an animal is in distress, it gets taken out right away.”

Hancock said the animals shown at the Village feature heritage breeds popular in the 1700s and 1800s. Over the centuries, changing dietary preferences have changed the ways people have bred livestock, resulting, for instance, in leaner pigs. The Hancock herd includes a mix of modern and heritage pigs: Hampshires, Yorkshires, Dorics, Landrace and Brookshires.

The Shakers also preferred “triple-purpose” cattle, valuable for milk, meat and work. The breeds they kept included Devons, developed in medieval Devonshire, England, and first brought to the New World with the Pilgrims, and Durhams, also named for the British region where they originated.

Hancock Village, located at 1843 W. Housatonic Street, opens its baby animal exhibit Saturday, April 16, and continues it through May 8, between 10AM and 4PM, daily. The animals can be viewed for the cost of general admission: adults, $20; youths 13 to 17, $8; children 12 and under admitted free.

Premium tours, which include a hayride through the village and the opportunity to meet, hold and bottle-feed some of the newborn animals in a reserved area, can be booked Monday-Friday at 11AM and Saturday and Sunday at 11AM and 1PM. An additional tour has been added Monday, April 18, at 1PM. Weekend tours are $30 per person for all ages and weekdays are $27. Members get 10-percent off.

Hancock said the Discovery Barn, located near the baby animal exhibit, has also been expanded. “We have all kinds of new and engaging activities and exhibits,” she said. “I think a lot of kids will be diverted.”

For further information visit the link below, call 413-443-0188 or email info@hancockshakervillage.org.

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