The Bison (Bison bison):
At Farnless Farm Park we have our own breeding herd of North American Bison, come and meet Colin (named after the chairman of the BBA) and his three ladies, and hopefully very soon some calves.
Bison are traditionally found on the North American plains but in the late 19th century as man settled the plains they trimmed the population from 50 million to only a few hundred. Today the bison are on a come back with nearly 100,000 animals in the US and approximately 300 here in the UK.
To keep Bison we have to have a dangerous wild animal licence and under no circumstances must you enter their pasture. They are timid creatures but brought to bay they will fight with ferocity, they can run at nearly 25mph and easily jump a 6ft fence. Once provoked they are unstoppable, and will kill.
Whats in a name?
The “bison” and “buffalo” are the same animal, but you often see “buffalo burgers” which are from water buffalo and not bison.
Actually, bison is the scientific name for buffalo. The bison is a member of the bos family, related to bovines such as domestic cattle, but distinct from the true buffalo, those of Asia and Africa.
English settlers on the Great Plains first used the term buffalo; it was a modification of the name “les boeufs”, which early French explorers gave to Oxon or beef cattle.
Red Deer (Cervus elaphus)We have a herd of Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) also at Farnless, which are the majority of our parkland animals, and in with our 25 hinds you’ll see Dave our pure bred English Park Stag. Dave is about to celebrate his second birthday and came to us from another deer herd near Caterick. Depending on when you visit Dave, he may have antlers and if you come in September you may be lucky enough to hear him bark as we enter the rut.
The deer are very timid and you wont be able to get too close, although we do have a hand-reared calf, called Henrietta, who will happily come to the fence to say hello. Red deer are the most common farmed deer species in the UK and are great lovers of our ponds. You should be able to see their red coat unless they have been wallowing and they will literally be filthy.
Although the deer are timid when they have young or they are rutting they are more dangerous than the bison and will attack if approached. It is common occurrence for dogs to be killed or injured when approaching hinds at these times. When we handle the animals we wear stab vests, as the antlers are very sharp and dangerous.
The Red Deer is one of the largest deer species and inhabit most of Europe, the Caucasus Mountains region, Asia Minor and parts of western and central Asia. It also inhabits the Atlas Mountains region between Algeria and Tunisia in northwestern Africa, being the only species of deer to inhabit Africa. Red Deer have been introduced to other areas including New Zealand and Argentina. In many parts of the world the meat (venison) from Red Deer is widely used as a food source.
Red Deer are ruminants, characterized by an even number of toes, and a four-chambered stomach. Recent DNA evidence indicates that the Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) and the East Asian and North American Elk (Wapiti) (Cervus canadensis) represent two distinct species. They give also hint for an additional primordial subgroup of Central Asian Red Deer. The ancestor of all Red Deer probably originated in Central Asia and probably resembled Sika Deer.
Although at one time Red Deer were rare in some areas, they were never close to extinction. Reintroduction and conservation efforts, especially here in the UK, have resulted in an increase of Red Deer populations, while other areas, such as North Africa, have continued to show a population decline. Red Deer were once common place in Bishop Middleham, in the middle ages Bishop Middleham had its own deer park, so you could say we are reintroducing Red Deer to Bishop Middleham.
We currently only have four female elk but we have a bull elk on our shopping list for 2008. The elk are the most sociable of our parkland animals and will approach us and take food from our hands. The elk use smell over sight but are startled very easily by quick movement.
The elk are much bigger and lighter in colour than the deer and will squeak at you when they get close, you may also notice that they will tip their heads from side to side like an inquisitive dog to get a good look at you.
Like the deer and most animals the elk are dangerous when with calf and will rise up onto their rear legs and box, so please under no circumstances must you enter the enclosure.
The elk, or wapiti is the second largest species of deer in the world and one of the largest mammals in North America and Eastern Asia. In the deer family (Cervidae), only the moose, Alces alces (called an “elk” in Europe), is larger. Wapiti are almost identical to red deer found in Europe, of which they were long believed to be a subspecies; they have recently been determined to be a distinct species based on DNA evidence.
Elk range in forest and forest-edge habitat, feeding on grasses, plants, leaves and bark. Although native to North America and Eastern Asia, they have adapted well to countries where they have been introduced, including New Zealand and Argentina.
Male elk have large antlers which are shed each year. Males engage in ritualized mating behaviors during the rut, including posturing, antler wrestling and bugling, a loud series of screams which establishes dominance over other males and attracts females. The bugle call is one of the most distinctive calls in nature.
Some cultures revere the elk as a spiritual force. In parts of Asia, antlers and their velvet are used in traditional medicines. Elk are hunted as a game species; the meat is leaner and higher in protein than beef or chicken.
Rheah (Rhea americana)
We have five adult white Rhea and hopefully chicks are on the way.Rhea are derived from Ostrich but are nowhere near as dangerous. However, our Rhea are very inquisitive and will peck at anything so be warned get too close to the fence and they will make a grab for you, and it does hurt!
Rhea derive from the South American Pampas and can withstand massive fluctuations in temperatures from very hot days to freezing nights making them ideally suited to the UK climate.
Rheas, also known as ñandú, or ema in Portuguese, are two species of flightless ratite birds native to South America – the greater or American rhea and the lesser or Darwin’s rhea. The name was given in 1752 by Paul Mohring; his reason for choosing this name, from the Rhea of classical mythology, is not known.
Rheas are polygamous, with males courting between two and twelve females. After mating, the male builds a nest, in which each female lays her eggs. The male incubates from ten to sixty eggs; the chicks hatch within 36 hours of each other. The females, meanwhile, may move on and mate with other males. While caring for the young, the males will charge at anyone — including humans and female rheas — who approach the chicks.
Rheas are omnivorous, preferring broad-leafed plants, but also eating seeds, roots, fruit, insects, and small vertebrates.
Rheas have only three toes. This is probably an adaptation to allow them to run faster than if they had four like most other birds
Pot-bellied pigis a breed of domesticated pig originating in Vietnam with fourteen sub-species. Considerably smaller than standard American or European farm pigs, most adult pot-bellied pigs are about the size of a medium- or large-breed dog, though their bodies are denser at a weight of 60 to 300 lb (27 to 136 kg). Pot-bellied pigs can be easily discerned from other pig breeds by their size, upright ears and straight tail. Pigs with fat rolls over their eyes or a belly that touches the ground are easy visual indicators that the pig is overweight. Although they have a pot belly and a swayed back, it is not indicative of weight. Pigs in proper weight still have the sway and belly, but the hip bones can easily be felt with minimal pressure and the eyes (whole socket) should be easily visible.
Because pot-bellied pigs are in the same species as ordinary farmyard pigs and wild boars, they are capable of interbreeding. The Swedish Agriculture Ministry has been assisting Vietnam with their pork production by introducing large breeds of pigs into Vietnam since the mid 1980s. Today, the Vietnamese and Swedish governments have realized that the indigenous Vietnamese Pig sub-species exist only in mountainous Vietnam and Thailand. The Vietnamese government has begun to subsidize local farmers that continue to raise the indigenous pot-bellied pigs because they realize they are not as prolific or large as other breeds.
Pigs are extremely smart animals and having one as a house pet requires some preparation. Pig proofing the house as one would for a toddler is a must. They will learn how to open the refrigerator, they will pull books from the bookshelf, and any food at pig level is fair game. Due to their rooting behaviour during their young and adolescent years, books, newspapers and loose materials will often find their way in front of the pigs’ nose to create a bedding area.
Un-neutered male pigs, called boars, neutered males are “barrows” and female pigs, called “gilts” (young unbred females) or sows, become fertile at a young age, long before they are completely physically mature. Pot-bellied pigs are considered fully grown by six years of age, when their growth plates in their spine finally close.
Dominio and Dice the Pigmy goats
A pygmy goat is a small breed of domestic goat; females weigh about 23 to 34 kg (35 to 50 lbs) and males about 27 to 39 kg (40 to 60 lb). Pygmy goats originated in the Cameroon Valley of West Africa. They were imported into the United States from European zoos in the 1950s for use in zoos and as a research animal. They were eventually acquired by private breeders and quickly gained popularity as pets and exhibition animals due to their good-natured personalities, friendliness and hardy constitution.
Although they produce a large amount of milk for their size, and can be eaten, pygmy goats are not typically used for milk or meat, unlike larger dairy and meat goat breeds. Pygmy goats tend to be more robust and breed more continually throughout the year than either dairy or meat goats. They have stomachs with four compartments: the rumen, the reticulum, the omasum, and the abomasum. As browsers, goats are similar to deer and enjoy variety in their diet, including woody plants.
Terry and June the Peafowl
The Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus also known as the Common Peafowl or the Blue Peafowl is one of the species of bird in the genus Pavo of the Phasianidae family known as peafowl. The Indian Peafowl is a resident breeder in the Indian subcontinent. The peacock is the national bird of India.
The species is found in dry semi-desert grasslands, scrub and deciduous forests. It forages and nests on the ground but roosts on top of trees. It eats mainly seeds, but also some insects, fruits and reptiles.
Females are about 86 cm (34 in) long and weigh about 3.4 kg (7.4 lbs), while males average at about 2.12 m (7.3 ft) in full breeding plumage (107 cm/42 in when not) and weigh about 5 kg (11 lbs). The male is called a peacock, the female a peahen. The Indian Peacock has iridescent blue-green plumage. The upper tail coverts on its back are elongated and ornate with an eye at the end of each feather. These are the Peacock’s display feathers. The female plumage is a mixture of dull green, grey and iridescent blue, with the greenish-grey predominating. In the breeding season, females stand apart by lacking the long ‘tail feathers’ also known as train, and in the non-breeding season they can be distinguished from males by the green colour of the neck as opposed to the blue on the males.
Peafowl are most notable for the male’s extravagant display feathers which, despite actually growing from their back, are known as a ‘tail’ or a train. This train is in reality not the tail but the enormously elongated upper tail coverts. The tail itself is brown and short as in the peahen. They are a result of sexual selection and are displayed as part of courtship.
They lay a clutch of 4-8 eggs which take 28 days to hatch. The eggs are light brown and are laid every other day usually in the afternoon. The male does not assist with the rearing, and is polygamous with up to six hens.
We also have ducks, chickens, quail and many different animals on the way.
We are always willing to give a good home to an animal that we can safely and ethically accommodate.