Animal Encounters

Animal Encounters

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Meet The Animals

Get up close and personal with a member of our care team where you’ll get an opportunity to meet these unique animals, hear stories about their history, and learn more about Old World Wisconsin’s conservation efforts.

So much to see!

“Love how interactive everything is – so much to see! We really enjoy seeing the heritage animals and plants.”

Ashley Coleman

Old World Foundation logo

Sponsored by the Old World Foundation

Heritage Breeds

Meet the special animal breeds of Old World Wisconsin!

Almost every animal you meet during your visit is a heritage breed – traditional varieties of cows, oxen, sheep, pigs, chickens and more. These animals have been carefully chosen and bred over time to develop traits that make them well-suited to the local environment.

They thrive under farming practices and cultural conditions that are very different from those found in modern agriculture. The rise of tractors and other technology meant some animals no longer were needed to pull equipment. Historic farmers also wanted their livestock to serve multiple purposes during their lifetime, while modern farm animals are more specialized. 

While these heritage breeds are nearly extinct today, they were common in the pastures of previous generations. Old World Wisconsin, in partnership with many organizations through the Livestock Conservancy, breeds and protects these animals to preserve this living part of our agricultural history for future generations. 

A man wearing period clothes including a black hat helps guide two long horned cattle attached to a plow harness to eat grass while a family looks on from in front of an open barn

Heritage Breeds at Old World Wisconsin

Old Spots Pigs

Originating in Gloucestershire, England, these animals are the oldest recognized pedigree spotted pig breed in the world. They are known for their distinctive white coat with black spots. These pigs earned the nickname “orchard pig” due to folklore suggesting the spots were bruises caused by falling apples.

You can see these pigs in the
1880s Pomeranian Farm.


Originating in the Cotswold Hills of western England, these sheep have resided or lived in this area for approximately 2,000 years, dating back to the Roman conquest. Their fleece hangs in long, luxurious locks that cover their body and even their face, a characteristic of the breed.

You can see these sheep in the Crossroads Village and the 1870s Hessian Farm. 

Java Chickens

While their true origins are unknown, these chickens are reported to descend from the island of Java in Indonesia. They became popular in the U.S. in the mid 1800s, making them the second oldest breed of chickens developed in America. Java chickens are dual-purpose animals, producing eggs and meat. Conservation program is funded by a grant from the Livestock Conservancy.

You can see these chickens in the
1880s Pomeranian Farm.

More biographies coming soon!

Take a selfie and share the story of these amazing creatures.
Tag @OldWorldWisconsin and the @WisconsinHistoricalSociety while using the hashtag
#OWWAnimals & #ExploreWisconsinHistory
to share your Animal Encounters photos!

Wish You Could Take One Home? You Can!

We have a variety of fluffy squishy friends for you to bring home with you after your day interacting with the real life creature, shop them in our museum store or online at your convenience.