Serious Cuteness: Farmyard Baby Animals at Biltmore Estate

Spring has sprung, complete with cuddly animals you’ll want to see again and again. Check out some of the newest faces at Biltmore's Antler Hill Farm.

Photo By: Chase Pickering/Biltmore

Photo By: Chase Pickering/Biltmore

Photo By: The Biltmore Company

Photo By: The Biltmore Company

Photo By: The Biltmore Company

Photo By: Chase Pickering/Biltmore

Photo By: Chase Pickering/Biltmore

Photo By: Chase Pickering/Biltmore

Floppy-Eared Kids

It’s cuteness overload when floppy-eared Nubian dairy goat kids come out to play. Baby goats frolic and gambol in the farmyard at Antler Hill Farm, eager for petting and playful head-butting. If you happen to visit Biltmore during the spring birthing season, you can interact with many of the new animals at the farm. The goat pen is always a family favorite.

Black Australorp Chick

You know it’s spring when baby chicks appear. This adorable chick is a heritage breed, a Black Australorp. The breed hails from Australia, where it was first imported between 1890 and 1900. Australorps gained worldwide popularity in the 1920s after breaking numerous records for the number of eggs laid, with competitive hens laying up to 364 eggs per year. Historically, chickens played a key role at the Biltmore Estate, contributing to mealtime menus in a variety of ways, from fresh eggs to fricassee. In 1896, the Biltmore house ordered up to 30 dozen eggs per week.

Fluffy, Friendly Chickens

The animals that guests experience in the farmyard at Antler Hill Farm represent the types of livestock that lived on the estate during the Vanderbilt era. Many of the chickens are heritage breeds, including this Mille Fleur d’Uccle (left) and Silkie (right). Mille Fleur d’Uccle chickens date to 1914 and are known for having eye-catching coloring, big personalities and laying small white eggs. Silkie chickens have a longer history, noted by Marco Polo on his 13th century journeys to Asia. This breed has black skin, flesh and bones — all covered by wonderfully poofy feathers.

Learn More: How to Build a Chicken Coop

Playtime for Goats

Adorable baby goats steal the show in Antler Hill Farmyard, playing together on boxes and straw bales. During the Vanderbilt era at the turn of the century, Angora goats were the breed of choice, prized for their abundant mohair coats. Today the livestock team uses the goats to help nibble invasive plants like autumn olive and porcelain berry. Rotating the goats through different paddocks helps maintain soil health and the natural beauty of the grounds. Goat-powered weed control is especially effective on steep slopes and helps reduce use of diesel-fueled equipment.

Bluebird Nests

Spring arrivals create excitement at Biltmore. With the livestock, workers must choose names for each animal and refresh stalls to roll out the welcome mat for the newest members of the farmyard. In the fields around the farm, native Eastern bluebirds build nests in boxes maintained and scouted by an employee team. Bluebirds are voracious bug eaters, helping to provide pesticide-free insect control on the grounds.

Duck, Duck, Goose!

Make way for ducklings becomes the hue and cry in the farmyard in early spring as resident ducks hatch their eggs. During the Vanderbilt era, ducks played a key part in the poultry farm, providing meat and/or eggs for the kitchen. Berkshire hogs were another favorite in that time, when a prized boar named Highclere Topper lived with his companion, a sow named Fritters. Even today, every animal on the farm has a role to play, helping to fulfill George Vanderbilt’s vision of a self-sustaining, working estate.

Learn More: Raising Ducks: A Primer on Duck Housing, Diet and Health

Draft Horses

Belgian draft horses are long-time residents of the farm, cherished for their ability to pull plow and wagon. They’re large horses, standing 66 to 68 inches high at the shoulders. Today these gentle giants haul guests on carriage rides around the estate, a tradition started well over 100 years ago. Even when these horses are grazing, they’re hard at work, helping to "mow" pasture grass on the estate.

A Friendly Donkey Stands Guard

The farm relies on guardian donkeys to help keep livestock, like these chickens, safe when they’re in the pastures. Guardian donkeys are highly effective at keeping predators, including hawks and owls, away from the flock. Since the addition of donkey guards to pastures, Biltmore hasn’t lost a single chicken. The donkeys are also remarkably endearing, always ready for a scratch behind the ears. The mobile chicken coop or tractor in the background is another example of sustainable agriculture practices adopted at the estate.

See More Photos: A Virtual Tour of Biltmore Gardens in the Spring

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