Did you know that cows have four stomachs? Have you ever seen a horse fall asleep while standing up? Here are some amazing facts about farm animals to share with your child.
By Shashwathi Bhanukumar
Old Mc Donald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O…And on his farm, he had a cow…
The rhyme goes on, as your little one jumps around with excitement, mimicking the sounds of the animals. This is any child’s first introduction to farm animals and a fun way at that. And why are we talking about this? That's because 2 October is celebrated as World Farm Animals Day, every year. It coincides with Gandhi Jayanti, right? Well, this is for a reason. The birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, who preached non-violence toward all living things, is marked as an occasion for animal activists worldwide to protest against the cruelty meted out to animals, particularly farm animals that are raised as sources of food.
Animals, in general, are a great source of awe for children. Be it the growling bears or the purring cats, they all look adorable to children. While we teach children about animals through rhymes and stories like ‘The Three Little Pigs’ or ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’, we also need to teach them that farm animals are also a source for foods they love, like eggs or ice cream.
On World Farm Animals Day, share these fun facts about the animals on the farm with your child. Read on and you too may be amazed at some of these facts.
A cow has four stomachs: Surprised? Technically, it is one big stomach, but the cow’s stomach has four different compartments. Grass is very difficult to digest; so, the cow, first eats the grass, which lands in the first two compartments of the stomach. At this stage, it is partially digested. This partially digested food is regurgitated by the cow, which it chews again. This food is finally digested in the last two compartments of the stomach.
Cows choose their friends: It is not just humans, but even cows have their own preferences when it comes to the company they keep. When cows set out to graze, there will be groups of six to eight cows that will stick together. These ‘groups’ go out together and also have a leader. These groups are formed based on the ‘connection’ among the cows.
Horses sleep while standing: Since horses are prey animals, they don't like sleeping on the ground. They have straight backs and have trouble getting up quickly. So, they find it easier to stand and sleep. This also makes it easier for them to escape if they are attacked. They can lock their knees and fall asleep standing up, without falling over. However, that does not mean they do not lie down at all. They take naps sometimes lying down too.
Horses communicate a lot with their ears: Depending on how their ears move, you can understand how horses feel. If a horse’s ears are pointing backwards when you go near him, it means he’s either frightened or angry. If the ears are normal, then you can go ahead and pet him. If his ears are bent forward, that means the horse is listening to what you are saying and trying to understand you. So, the next time your child goes near a horse, he will be able to read its mind through the animal’s ears!
Rabbits jump when they are happy: ‘When you are happy and you know it, clap your hands’ goes the familiar song; but these furry creatures show their happiness by hopping and jumping around like crazy and this is called binkying. They also do a half-binky, which is a head flick. Hilarious and adorable at the same time, isn’t it?
Pigs are intelligent animals: You have always imagined them as smelly and dirty animals; but, actually, they are one of the cleanest creatures. More surprising is the fact that they are considered to be the fourth most intelligent breed in the animal kingdom. Researches have time and again proved that. A research study titled 'Spatial strategies: an attempt to classify daily movements of wild boar' by F Spitz and G Janeau in the journal Acta Thereoligica supports this. It showed how pigs were trained to move a cursor on a video screen with their snouts and used the cursor to distinguish between scribbles they knew and those they were seeing for the first time. They learned the task as quickly as chimpanzees!
Chickens communicate a lot with each other: Even baby chicks that haven't hatched yet communicate with their mother. They make soft peep noises to let their mother know when they're feeling cold so that she can move the egg around in the nest. The communication intensifies after they are born. Chickens cannot stop chatting and it is almost as if they have a language of their own. They have over 200 distinct noises they can make for communicating with each other.
Pigs love muddy puddles: Your tiny tot might have an inkling of that by now, courtesy the popular show Peppa Pig. But, what your little wonder might not know is that pigs do not like muddy puddles because it's fun. That is their way of keeping themselves cool. Pigs do not sweat the way humans do, so they roll themselves in the cool mud instead.
Sheep have good memory: Sheep actually remember the names given to them and respond when you call them out. Not just that, their memory is so good that if you have visited them even once, they will remember your face for a long time after that. So, don’t be surprised if they come for a cuddle the next time you visit them at a farm.
Ducks have three eyelids: Ducks have a third eyelid, which is located on the inner edges of its eyes. These eyelids help them swim for a long time. Moreover, since their eyes are located on either side of their head, they have a 340 degrees vision. Not just that; they can see objects both near and far simultaneously because of the unique shape of their eyes. How’s that for a ‘clear’ eyesight!
It is fun to learn about animals that provide us with some basic necessities of life. The best way to know more about them is by actually visiting a farm with your little one. We promise you that it will be a delightful experience for both you and them. You might end up making some furry and some not-so-furry friends too!
Inputs from Arul Futnani, owner, The Farm, Chennai and Dr JV Krishnamurthi, Retd Director of Veterinary Services, Tamil Nadu.
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