Nye Barn FAQs

What to Expect, How to Prepare:

1.   What will I see at Nye Barn?

2.   What are rare and heritage breeds of livestock?

3.   How long does it take to visit the Nye Barn?

4.   Can I pet or feed the animals?

5.   Who tends the animals at Nye Barn?

6.   Why does it look like you only have bulls?

Frequently Asked Questions about the animals in the 17th-Century English Village:

7.   What rare breeds animals inhabit the 17th-Century English Village?

8.   Are the animals descendants of those that came on Mayflower?

Frequently Asked Historical Questions about animals in the 17th century:

9.   What animals did the Pilgrims bring on Mayflower in 1620?

10.  How many animals did the Pilgrims have in 1627?

11.  Did families have their own livestock in 1627 Plymouth?

12.  Who tended the animals in 1627 Plymouth?

13.  Did the colonists have horses in 1627?

14.  Did the Wampanoag People have livestock in the 17th century?

15.  Were wild boars native to New England?

 

What to Expect, How to Prepare:

1. What will I see at Nye Barn?

In the pastures at Nye Barn you will see some of Plimoth Plantation's rare breeds cows and goats. Inside the barn there is a display of photographs and texts explaining the history of the various breeds of livestock and the value of global conservation efforts.

back to questions

2. What are rare and heritage breeds of livestock?

The terms “rare” and “heritage” are often used together to describe particular breeds of livestock. Rare is applied to livestock breeds that number fewer than 1,000 annual registrations in North America (according to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy). Heritage breeds are breeds of livestock that predate modern genetic standardization of farm animals.

For more information on the conservation of Rare and Heritage breeds, please visit these websites:

American Livestock Breeds Conservancy | New England Heritage Breeds Conservancy | Rare Breeds Canada | Breeds of Livestock - Oklahoma State University

back to questions

3. How long does it take to visit the Nye Barn?

It is a small exhibit. You will probably need 20 minutes, including the time it takes to walk to and from the nearby Hornblower Visitor Center.

back to questions

4. Can I pet or feed the animals?

For their safety as well as your own, the animals at the Nye Barn cannot be petted or touched. We also ask that you do not attempt feed them. (They are well-fed critters!) We do encourage you to observe these animals as they move naturally throughout the barn area, grazing, resting, sleeping and playing.

At times, you may encounter a staff member conducting an interactive program in the Nye Barn. At those times, you may be invited to touch, feed or even milk the animals! When you arrive, please check the daily listings in the Visitor Center for information on Nye Barn programs.

back to questions

5. Who tends the animals at Nye Barn?

Specially trained Plimoth Plantation staff tend to the needs of our rare breed animals. They are fed and watered every day. You may even see one of our many dedicated volunteers working with the young goats. During the summer, our 4-H club members show off some of the animals to visitors.

back to questions

6. Why does it look like you only have bulls?

Guests are often surprised to learn that horns are common to both males and females in most breeds of cattle. Many farmers today "disbud" very young cattle of their horns. This was not done in the 17th century. Of the hundreds of breeds of cattle, there are only a few cattle breeds that do not grow horns.

back to questions

 

Frequently Asked Historical Questions about the animals in the 17th-Century English Village:

7. What rare breeds animals inhabit the 17th-Century English Village?

There are a variety of rare breeds living in the English Village. Kerry and Milking Devon cattle graze in pastures near the walled town. Small flocks of Wiltshire horned sheep and San Clemente and Arapawa Island goats and several Dorking hens also inhabit the town. The sights, sounds, and even the smells of these animals help transport you back to the 17th century. Please note that in the 1600s, specific breeds of livestock had not yet been developed or named. Therefore the role players in the 17th-Century English Village will not be able to talk about livestock breeds.

back to questions

8. Are the animals descendants of those that came on Mayflower?

No, the animals you see today are from stock acquired by Plimoth Plantation from Canada, New Zealand and various locations across the United States. These animal breeds were brought to Plimoth Plantation as part of our efforts to conserve these rare and heritage breeds animals, as well as to provide our English Village with accurate livestock.

back to questions

 

Frequently Asked Historical Questions about animals in the 17th century:

9. What animals did the Pilgrims bring on Mayflower in 1620?

Pilgrim accounts mention that two dogs (a spaniel and a mastiff) were brought on the 1620 Mayflower voyage. A reference in a 1623 letter leads Museum historians to believe that there were probably goats, pigs and chickens on Mayflower as well.

back to questions

10. How many animals did the Pilgrims have in 1627?

We don't know the total number of animals. Based on a document from 1627, we do know that there were four cows, seven heifers (young cows which have not calved yet), two calves, two steers, and a bull. According to this document, there were at least two dozen goats. Chickens and pigs were probably numerous enough for each family to have a few of their own by 1627. There were probably some dogs and cats as well.

back to questions

11. Did families have their own livestock in 1627 Plymouth?

The colonists held most livestock communally. However some families may have privately owned animals.

back to questions

12. Who tended the animals in 1627 Plymouth?

Based on English practice, we believe that animal care duties were shared by a number of people. Women and girls milked the cows and goats. Young children did simpler chores like gathering eggs. Older boys herded the cattle and swine. It was the responsibility of men to train cattle to pull heavy loads.

back to questions

13. Did the colonists have horses in 1627?

There are no horses native to this country. Horses were brought to New England after 1629.

back to questions

14. Did the Wampanoag People have livestock in the 17th century?

Traditionally Wampanoag people did not keep domesticated livestock. They hunted and fished wild animals native to the area. After decades of permanent English colonization, Wampanoag people began to keep their own livestock.

back to questions

15. Were wild boars native to New England?

Swine (boars) were not native to New England. The wild boars that exist now in this country are descended from European swine.

back to questions

Arapawa Plush Goat

These heritage breeds were common in the past, but are in danger of becoming extinct today

Buy Online

Wiltshire Horn Sheep

Sheep were brought to Plymouth Colony by 1628. Then as now, sheep were valued both for their wool and for their meat.

Buy Online

Plimoth is Great for Families

Children and the adults with them can enjoy all that Plimoth has to offer. See what's going on today!

Calendar

Members enjoy discounts in our shops!

A great selection of gifts and educational materials.

Shop Now

Planning a wedding, family reunion, meeting or function?

Plimoth Plantation in the perfect location.

Learn More