Farm animals have been part of our society for hundreds of years. But as more of us no longer are raised on a farm, we sometimes have less understanding in regards to animals.
So for the next few weeks, let’s look at some animal terminology. I want to thank the Farm & Food Care Ontario (www.farmfoodcare.org) for this information. You can visit their website for all kinds of information regarding agriculture and the food we eat.
Animals have particular body parts to help them respond and adapt to the environment in which they live. The body parts of animals are used for more than food. The names of the body parts of farm animals are often different than their human counterpart.
Sheep are covered with wool instead of hair like us. The wool insulates the animal in the winter and helps to keep it cool in the summer. The lanolin (a waterproof wax) in the wool keeps the dirt, rain and other debris away from the animal’s skin.
Horses, donkeys, cattle, goats, and pigs have hair on their body like all mammals. Horsehair refers to body hair on the horse or hair taken from the mane or tail of the animal.
Feathers are found on most birds. Feathers have blood vessels in them until the feathers are fully grown. The big feathers in a bird’s tail and wings are called quill feathers. They consist of a strong shaft with barbs growing on both sides. From the side of the barb are barbules. The barbules have little hooks that grab onto other barbules and hold them together. That’s why when you spread a feather apart, it will return to its original shape.
The skin refers to the covering of a small animal, such as a sheep, goat, pig, or the young of a large animal. The term hide refers to the covering of a large adult animal such as a cow or horse.
The feet of cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, horses, and other farm mammals are called hooves. The hoof consists of a hard or rubbery sole, and a hard wall. Hooves grow continuously, like toenails and fingernails in people and are worn down by use. People often trim the hooves of horses, cattle, sheep, and goats much the same as we trim our fingernails. A professional who trims the hooves of horses is called a farrier.
Sheep, goats, deer, cattle, bison, and pigs have two main hooves on each foot, together called a cloven hoof. Horses and donkeys have one hoof on each foot.
Chickens and other poultry have clawed feet which can scratch the surface of the ground to find feed. Duck and goose feet are webbed to help them swim.
Animal tails are used in a variety of ways. They provide a source of locomotion for fish. Many land animals use their tails to brush away flies and other biting insects. The long tail on a chicken helps it to balance while it is sitting on a perch.
Cattle, sheep, and goats only have teeth on the bottom of their jaw. Pigs have a full set of 44 teeth. The canine teeth, called tusks, grow continually and are sharpened by the lowers and uppers rubbing against each other. Poultry do not have teeth, but crack their food with their sharp beaks and swallow it whole. Duck beaks are soft and contain nerves, while chicken and turkey beaks are hard. You can tell the age of horses, goats, sheep and cattle by their teeth.
Birds and poultry have wings but they cannot all fly. Farmed turkeys do not fly because their bones are solid. Cattle can jump if they are running fast enough.
Next week, more on our animal sector.
Think about this – To show His love, Jesus died for us; to show our love, we live for Him.
Remember that here in Chatham-Kent “WE GROW FOR THE WORLD.”