Celebrate spring by visiting baby animals and barnyard pets on a local New Jersey farm. In addition to seeing chicks, calves, lambs, bunnies, and piglets, kids can crack corn, collect eggs, and even learn how cheese and bread are made at these farmsteads.
Some offer full petting zoos, as well as wagon rides and pick-your-own fruits and vegetables. Read on for a dozen of our favorites.
Northern New Jersey
Abma’s Farm – Wyckoff
Head to Abma’s Farm for a quaint farm experience. The family staff at the farm welcome everyone to visit and feed their cows, goats, bunnies, and more friendly farm animals. Head into the market to purchase crackers to feed some of the animals, or grab a sandwich, cookie, soup, and other delicious treats for yourself and the kids.
Learn how to handle and care for many different animals at Alstede Farms.
Alstede Farms – Chester
Alstede is a great place to bring the family year-round and offers everything from fresh produce to Christmas trees. It also has a baby animal tour for children. A scenic hay wagon ride brings everyone to a heated barn, where you can visit all the babies. Children can pet ducklings and visit baby goats, pigs, cows, lambs, and more.
Schedule a visit to the Barnyard Sanctuary to meet rescued farm animals.
The Barnyard Sanctuary – Columbia
The Barnyard Sanctuary is a safe place where animals are rescued, rehabilitated and re-homed. Currently, the property is home to more than 720 rescued farm animals, including horses, donkeys, mules, cows, water buffalo, sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas, emus, potbelly pigs, farm hogs, and many birds. This unique place is open to visitors, but you must schedule an appointment to visit. Open Monday through Friday between 9am–3pm or Saturday from 9am–noon.
Get a hands-on animal experience at Brookhallow's Barnyard in Boonton.
Brookhollow's Barnyard – Boonton
Brookhollow's Barnyard is a small petting farm where kids can interact with animals such as alpacas, llamas, sheep, goats, ponies, donkeys, chickens, peafowl, ducks, and miniature horses. Many baby animals arrive throughout the spring and early summer. Other activities include pedal tractors and a “cow train” ride. The farm also offers birthday parties and weekly summer camps for kids.
Fosterfields Living Historical Farm – Morristown
Fosterfields Living Historical Farm functions exactly as it did at the turn of the 20th century. This is no petting zoo, but kids can see exactly how the animals were raised in the olden days. They can watch pigs, sheep, horses, and donkeys in the fields and pens. Kids can also crack corn and feed the chickens, and they can even go into the hen house and collect eggs at the end of the day. Bear in mind that the animals are just a small part of the farm, and kids are expected to help out with other chores such as pumping water, doing laundry, churning butter, and much more.
RELATED: Step Back in Time at NJ's Living History Farms
You can rent two baby chicks for two weeks from Sparta Mountain Farm.
Sparta Mountain Farm – Oak Ridge
Looking for a real hands-on experience for your family? Sparta Mountain Farm's popular rent-a-chick program allows families to rent two newly hatched chicks or ducklings for two weeks during the early spring. Kids will learn how these adorable creatures grow and how to care for them during this unique experience. In addition, the farm offers llama treks. Participants can learn about these beautiful animals as they take part in a one-hour walking tour of the farm.
Valley Shepherd Creamery – Long Valley
This is the place to see everything sheep. Starting in May, the farm offers weekend spring and summer lambing tours, during which kids can see hundreds of lambs. It also offers milk and cheese tours in the fall, where you can learn how cheeses are made, see the milking and cheese-making process, and enjoy tastings.
Central New Jersey
A baby alpaca at Bluebird.
Bluebird Farm Alpacas – Peapack
The Bluebird Farm Alpacas is a unique type of petting zoo, with an 11-acre farm situated in the Somerset Hills. On a visit, you are encouraged to take pictures and meet and interact with the farm's herd. Visits are by reservation only or during one of the farm's special events.
Bobolink Dairy – Milford
Bobolink Dairy has moved from its old location in Vernon to Milford, but it still raises grass-fed cows and produces outstanding cheeses and wood-fired breads. You can sign up for Farm Tours and show your kids where the cows pasture, see where the bread is made, and taste the different cheeses.
Meet the gentle resident horse and other friendly animals at Terhune Orchards.
Terhune Orchards – Princeton
Terhune Orchards is a fantastic location for a day of family fun on the farm. While it does not advertise as a petting zoo, it does welcome visitors to meet and feed the animals living on the farm. The barnyard animals include sheep, chickens, a horse, a friendly duck named “Egg,” and more. Terhune has a great walking path for visitors and is also host to fun events coming up in the warmer months.
RELATED: 10 Best Farms for Family Fun and Entertainment in NJ
Make friends with a skunk at Funny Farm.
Funny Farm Rescue Animal Sanctuary – Mays Landing
As a charity organization, Funny Farm Rescue has made it a goal to provide food, shelter, medical care, and love to unwanted farm, exotic, and domesticated animals for their entire lives. Visiting times for this special environment are Tuesdays and Sundays from 8am to 4pm.
Johnson’s Locust Hall Farm – Jobstown
Head to this historic, 315-acre farm—built 100 years before the 13 colonies became a nation—and step back in time. You will have the chance to meet and feed the goats, sheep, and chickens, and there is a perfect view from the animal farm to the pasture and side yard, where the cows and ponies hang out.
Originally published 2014; updated for 2018.
Photos courtesy of the farms.