The popularity of N.C. State University’s Farm Animal Days grows each year, and that fact was quite apparent on the 2014 opening day, April 9. Family cars and school field-trip busses lined up early to gain entrance to the site of the event, the Beef Educational Unit at N.C. State University’s Lake Wheeler Road Field Laboratory. The annual opportunity to meet and greet farm animals is hosted by N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and its departments of Animal Science, Prestage Poultry Science, and Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences.
Running for three days, from April 9 to 11, Farm Animal Days ’14 provided fun and educational introductions to a variety of farm animals, as youngsters viewed, learned about and, in some cases, touched the animals. Featured for close encounters were chicks, turkeys, ducks, pigs, sheep, goats and rabbits. Nearby in pens for viewing were beef cows and calves, dairy cows and horses.
The Prestage Department of Poultry Science display of turkeys and chicks drew particularly long lines, as did the hands-on cow-milking lesson, a simulated milking experience. Crowds also continually streamed through a large tent sheltering separate viewing pens of goats, sheep and pigs. Here, CALS faculty members and staff, such as Dr. Billy Flowers of Animal Science, along with CALS students, were on hand to answer questions about the animals.
Some attractions were not hooved or feathered but on wheels: Several gleaming tractors, very large and small, and other farm vehicles were on display. These were among the most popular destinations for kids to climb into cabs and for parents and teachers to grab photo opportunities.
Wandering among the dense crowd, the Molly the Cow mascot greeted and posed with kids and invited them to enjoy free Howling Cow ice cream, made at N.C. State.
Many groups also took advantage of a grassy picnic area to have lunch. An after-lunch treat for many was a visit to the Junior Wolfpack Club booth, where a turn of a wheel gave each child an opportunity to claim a prize. Cowboy, one of the NCSU Police Department’s horses, also made a popular appearance.
Held rain or shine from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day, the free-of-charge event is designed for school field trips (pre-school through first grade) and families. New this year were daily presentations, four on the hour, with N.C. State faculty, staff and students, along with local producers, offering information about animal agriculture and farm animals.
Sponsors for the event included the Wake County Farm Bureau, Col. William C. Koch Jr., N.C. Agricultural Foundation Inc., N.C. Cattlemen’s Association, N.C. State Animal Science Club, N.C. Egg Association Inc., N.C. Pork Council, N.C. State Dairy Enterprise-Howling Cow Ice Cream, N.C. State Junior Wolfpack Club, Farm Animal Days Friends and Dr. and Mrs. Frank D. Sargent. — Terri Leith
Below are more scenes from 2014 Farm Animal Days (photos by Terri Leith).