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Hereford Calf Debuts at Smithsonian’s National Zoo

  • Hereford calf Willow at the Kids' Farm.
    Hereford calf Willow arrived at the Kids' Farm Aug. 13, 2019.
  • Hereford calf Willow at the Kids' Farm.
    Hereford calf Willow explores her surroundings at the Kids' Farm Aug. 13, 2019.
  • Hereford calf Willow (right) and Holstein calf Magnolia (left) graze at the Kids' Farm.
    Hereford calf Willow (L) and Holstein calf Magnolia (R) graze at the Kids' Farm barnyard.

Kids’ Farm keepers at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo welcomed a new member to the cattle herd—a 10-month-old female Hereford calf named Willow. Born Oct. 4, 2018, Willow came to the Zoo from South Mountain Creamery in Middletown, Maryland. Her arrival bumps the number of cattle at the Kids’ Farm up to three, as she joins the Zoo’s 16-year-old Hereford heifer Rose and 1-year-old female Holstein calf, Magnolia. Cattle are referred to as cows colloquially, although the term “cow” specifically describes an adult female who has birthed a calf.

Since Tuesday, Aug. 13, Willow has been acclimating to her new surroundings and exploring the barn and the barnyard. Keepers have begun supervised “howdy” introductions among Willow, Rose and Magnolia—as well as male alpacas Orion and Cirrus. All five animals are able to see, smell, hear and interact with one another. Keepers anticipate Willow will be fully integrated into the herd by the end of August.

“Rose and Magnolia can often be found resting together in the barnyard and grooming one another, so we hope that they will develop a similar bond with Willow,” said Nikki Maticic, animal keeper at the Kids’ Farm. “Since Magnolia and Willow are close in age, I expect there will be a lot of head-butting, frolicking, mooing, grooming and other playful behaviors between them! They are such charismatic and intelligent creatures, and I hope meeting them inspires our younger visitors to develop a passion for animals and conservation.”

Along with Angus and Polled cattle, Hereford cattle are among the most common breed of beef cattle. North America is home to more than 60 breeds of beef cattle, which have been bred and selected primarily for the production of meat. Compared to dairy cattle, beef cattle have shorter legs and stockier bodies. Fully grown, Hereford cattle weigh up to 1,500 pounds.

The Kids’ Farm is home to various farm animals, including cattle, donkeys, goats, alpacas, hogs, chickens, koi fish and catfish. Designed for children ages 3 to 8, the exhibit provides many urban and suburban children an interactive learning experience with animals while teaching them where food comes from. Zoo visitors of all ages can view and pet animals at the Kids’ Farm. Keeper chats and animal demonstrations take place at the Kids’ Farm every day at 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., weather permitting.

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