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Spring means baby farm animals, but a West Michigan farm says skip buying chicks, ducklings for Easter

Every year, the Critter Barn founder said they get calls about animals that grew up or didn't work out for families. Instead, she encourages sponsoring an animal.

ZEELAND, Mich. — Springtime means buds on trees and baby animals on the farm. 

The Critter Barn is preparing for its Spring Fling focus, beginning this Saturday, April 3, through April 10. Visitors will be able to meet the many baby animals, and take part in various education and enrichment demonstrations.

"It’s a wonderful time of the year," said Mary Rottschafer, the founder and executive director, "when everything in the garden, all the trees, everything wakes up. So many seasonal breeders that breed in the fall, their young are born in spring, and by the time they are weened, the grass is growing. It all makes sense. There’s a greater plan we fit into here."

However, also every year, Rottschafer said they get calls about baby chicks, ducklings and bunnies families bought and the animal grew up or did not work out how they expected. She said often they hear of parents buying them for Easter.

"We get a lot of those calls, and we try to help as much as we can,
 said Rottschafer, "but we’re limited with how much we can take in."

Instead, she encouraged their sponsorship program. Families can "adopt" one of the animals, visit it at the Critter Barn, and help fund its care. 

Credit: 13 OYS
The Critter Barn has many baby animals this spring.

"There’s cost affiliated with every animal," said Rottschafer, "With their care, with their vaccinations, vet appointments, the bedding, the cat litter, the minerals the vitamins. There’s a lot of cost that goes into caring for an animal correctly. We appreciate any contribution. We are nonprofit, and like any business have been hit by the COVID experience. So, that support helps us do our job really well. Plus, gives kids a sense of ownership."

Currently, the Critter Barn has many, many baby animals. That includes 19 baby goats, 31 baby lambs, some calves, chicks, and many ducklings. Plus, some of the mothers are still pregnant. 

"There’s some babies just born this week," said Rottschafer, "So, we have little ones that are a few weeks old, and some a couple days old. Come June, you’ll hardly be able to tell the difference in them and their mothers."

Credit: 13 OYS
One visitor to the barn found a special bond with a chick, she named Cocoa.

The Critter Barn is also in the process of building a new, larger farm in Zeeland. The goal is to move and expand its operation from its current location. The new space will be 36 acres, and include multiple barns. Rottschafer said they plan to build some of it in a traditional farm model, some modern. The new space will also support their goal of being accessible for those with special needs or disabilities.

"It will be first facility of its kind to accommodate people with equipment, inclusive playground equipment, and universal design," said Rottschafer.

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