Author Archives: Jill Judd

  • Our sandpit and Trec area are officially open!

    On Tuesday 7th August, we were delighted to welcome Barnack Estates UK Ltd to Sacrewell to open our brand new giant sandpit and Sacrewell Trec. Barnack Estates UK Ltd very kindly donated all the materials to make these outside play areas possible, including 10 tonnes of sand for the sandpit and five tonnes of materials for the Trec including gravel, pebbles and play bark.

    If you’d like to read more on our new outdoor activities, The Stamford Mercury have reported on our official opening http://bit.ly/2B6BEka

    We hope to see you playing on our new activities soon!

  • What’s the most unusual food that an animal at the farm eats?

    Each month, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free family admission pass for a day at the farm, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Rebecca Bennett.

    Rabbits eat their own poo. This may seem quite unusual, but it’s actually a very important part of their digestive process.

    Rabbits are herbivores and their natural diet of grass, plants and weeds is high in fibre and cellulose which makes it tough to digest.

    The digestive process starts with the rabbit physically breaking the food down by chewing, before passing the food into their stomach and on to the intestines. Their small intestine works hard to get as many nutrients as possible out, but at this point in the digestive process the food hasn’t been fully broken down. After the small intestine, the food passes into the caecum, where bacteria break it down further and release more nutrients. However, the food can’t move back up the digestive process, so although it is full of nutrients, it then leaves the body as a special type of poo called a cecotroph. The rabbit can then eat the cecotroph and get even more nutrients out of it as it goes through the digestive process for a second time.

    Cecotrophs are darker in colour and more squidgy than the other pellets that rabbits produce. It’s important for the rabbits to be able to eat them as they provide them with nutrients and vitamins that they need to stay healthy. Why not see if you can spot any in the rabbit cages on your next visit to the farm?

    References:

    https://www.petplan.co.uk/blog/why-do-rabbits-eat-their-own-faeces/

    https://www.saveafluff.co.uk/rabbit-info/rabbit-poo

  • Can my daughter help look after the animals?

    Each month, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free family admission pass for a day at the farm, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Nicola Scott, whose 3 year old daughter loves to feed and fuss the animals.

    In short, yes! Whether you want to spend half an hour, half a day or one day a week helping, we think we’ve got an option that will suit:


    Daily Animal Feeding

    From 21st July till 3rd September 2018, we’ll be offering visitors of all ages the chance to help our staff with the animal feed round at 10.15 every day. If you’re planning a visit over the summer holidays, make sure you get here in time to join in!

    Children’s Farm Clubs

    Sacrewell Seedlings is our weekly club for 2-4 year olds which gets toddlers involved in growing vegetables, caring for animals, making their own snacks and exploring the countryside. This popular club runs on Wednesdays mornings in term time.

    Sacrewell Saplings, the next step for 5-7 year olds, starts in September 2018. Each three hour, Sunday morning session will include animal care and food production activities, as well as opportunities to play.

    Farmer’s Apprentice

    In August 2018, we’ll see the return of Farmer’s Apprentice. Your child (or even you!) can join Livestock Manager Jess, fully immersed in the day to day tasks of looking after the animals on the farm. You might be mucking out the cows, grooming the donkeys or helping to clean out the hooves of our Lincoln Longwool sheep. We’ll be running several days targeted at different age groups from toddlers to teenagers and in September we’ll have even have an evening session that’s for adults only.


    We’re always looking for ways to improve what we offer our visitors at Sacrewell and the seasonal nature of a life on the farm means that our activities do change regularly.

    If you’d like to be the first to hear about new opportunities to interact with our animals, scroll to the bottom of this page and sign up to our newsletter.

  • Jump for Joy

     

    Visit the farm for £5 per person during weekdays this June. Meet our baby rabbits and guinea pigs, our newest Cleveland Bay mares and explore our Fallen Cedar woodland course.

    Under 2’s are FREE, and we’re open 9.30am – 5pm.

  • Picking Elderflower

    Belvoir are back at Sacrewell, and they want your picking power.

    After a challenging winter the sun has finally put his hat on and come out to share in the good times of Summer, and with him he brings an abundance of Elderflower.

    So get ready as Belvoir are calling you to kindly roll up your sleeves and take to the English hedgerows in your local area to help pick another bumper crop of Elderflowers, so that they can continue to make lovely Elderflower Cordial and Elderflower Pressé.

    How to get involved

    1. Choose your picking location. When picking, do not pick from public places, e.g. church yards, and only pick from land with permission; please respect the countryside code. Please note that there is no picking of Elderflowers at Sacrewell.
    2. You’ll need … a bin bag to put the flowers in and some good walking boots. We advise you to wear long trousers so you don’t get stung by nasty nettles.
      We like elderflower heads, so no stalks please, and they need to be fresh so please deliver the flowers on the same day you picked them because they go brown very quickly and become unusable.
    3. Bring your elderflower heads to Sacrewell, between 2.30pm-5pm. You’ll see the Belvoir team and van just before the Sacrewell car park.
    4. Belvoir pay £2.50 per kilo for your lovely Elderflower, which they will weigh near the Belvoir van.

    Find out more on the Belvoir website …happy picking!

     

  • How much milk does a cow produce each day on average?

    Each month, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free family admission pass for a day at the farm, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from James Atkin.

    We have exciting news! This summer Sacrewell will be welcoming two red Dexter cows. Dexter cows are a miniature breed, originally from Ireland where their small size helped them thrive in rocky and mountainous terrain.

    In the UK the most common dairy breed is the Holstein-Friesian cow. In the 1970s the average Holstein-Friesian cow produced 21 pints of milk a day, whilst in 2012 the average was 42 pints a day.

    This increase is due to selective breeding. Selective breeding is where a farmer chooses to breed from the animals that have the best traits, for example a dairy farmer would use the cow that produces the most milk to have calves that should also produce lots of milk and a dairy farmer would not breed from cows that don’t produce a lot of milk.

    It was recently recorded that a Holstein-Friesian cow in Wisconsin, USA, produced 574711 pints of milk across the year, which is the same as 184 pints a day!

    There are four things which can affect a cow’s milk production:

    1. Feed – the more food a cow has access to eat, the more milk they will produce
    2. Genetics – If the cow is the daughter of a high milk producing cow, they are more likely to produce a greater volume of milk
    3. Weather – sudden and extreme changes in the weather can cause a decrease in a cow’s production of milk.
    4. Age – As a cow gets older they are much better at producing milk. They begin to produce more milk after they have stopped growing at the age of 3 to 4 years.

    Cows and milk production play a big part in the Sacrewell story. In 1926 a small herd of Shorthorn cattle arrived at the farm. By May 1965 the herd had increased to 100 cows and the breed of cattle had changed from dairy Shorthorn to Jersey cows which produce much creamier milk. The milk produced was sold and delivered in the surrounding villages. William Scott Abbott kept detailed records of his own selective breeding programme, photographing the cows and the calves that they produced.

    Dexter cows are the smallest breed of European Cattle and come in three different colours: red, black and dun. They tend to be very gentle, relaxed and caring in nature.

    These small cows measure 38 to 44 inches at the shoulder and weigh less than 1000lbs (450kg), which is roughly the weight of a grand piano!

    Whilst Dexter cows are a miniature breed of cow, they still can produce large quantities of milk, with the average Dexter cow producing 16 pints of milk a day. You can make 320 cups of tea each day with the amount of milk produced by the Dexter cow!

    References:

    http://www.dextercattle.co.uk/

    http://www.thatsfarming.com/news/dexter-cattle-breed

    https://www.uaex.edu/4h-youth/activities-programs/docs/Dairy%20Facts.pdf

    http://www.dairymoos.com/how-much-milk-do-cows-give/

  • Happy Outdoor Classroom Day!

    Think back to your school days, what are your favourite memories..? We bet they’re not of writing in a book at a tidy desk. In fact, for many, the memories of school days that we hold dearest are of things that we did outside the classroom, whether in the playground or on a residential school trip.

    At Sacrewell, we welcome over 3000 school children a year to make memories and spend time outside their classroom, but on May 17th we were extra pleased to welcome the pupils from Meadowgate Academy who had won our Outdoor Classroom Day Competition. Outdoor Classroom Day is a global campaign to inspire and celebrate outdoor learning and play, and the pupils from Meadowgate certainly did plenty of both on their free visit to the farm.

    We’d like to thank the children and their incredible staff for coming along to celebrate with us and for allowing us to share these photos with you.

    We hope they inspire you to try outdoor learning and play of your own.

     

     

  • Best Family Attraction Finalist

    Updated 21.05.18

    We WON! We’re THRILLED to have been voted Best Family Attraction in Cambridgeshire for the Muddy Stilettos Awards 2018 and thank you to everyone who voted. We look forward to seeing you at the farm again very soon!


    Hello all,

    I’d like to share an email I received this morning from Amy at Muddy Stilettos Cambridgeshire:

    “I’m delighted to let you know that you’ve made it into the Finals of the Muddy Stilettos Awards for Cambridgeshire 2018 in the Best Family Attraction category. Congratulations!

    Many thousands of readers voted in the first round, so it’s a massive accolade. Voting in the Finals starts at 10.30am on Monday 14 May and ends on 5.30pm on Friday 18 May – so it’s short and sweet at 5 days long!

    Anyone can vote in the Awards. So to maximise your chances of winning, do get your friends and fans supporting you and voting too!”

    VOTE HERE

    Thank you to everyone who has supported Sacrewell and the William Scott Abbott Trust.  Please do cast your vote for your favourite farm and all the amazing work we do to inspire the next generation of countryside steward. Share your favourite family memories of the farm with us over social media and get your friends and family involved in the Muddy Cambs Awards too!

    About Muddy Stilettos

    An uncompromising commitment to independence, quality and high editorial standards and lies at the heart of Muddy Stilettos, which is why readers feel so loyal to the blog and act on its recommendations. Please support your local businesses in the numerous awards categories which range from best deli/farmshop to best yoga/pilates studio!

    You can read more here.

  • Do goats pass wind?

    Each month, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free family admission pass for a day at the farm, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Ella Mckenzie.

    Goats are known for their varied diet. They will graze on grass and ground vegetation but also browse on shrubs and the lower branches of trees. They can eat hard, dry twigs which makes them a useful animal for farmers in parts of the world that have an arid climate.

    Their digestive system works very hard to break down all these materials into the sugars and nutrients that they need to survive and in the process, it produces gases, which can only be released if the goats pass wind. In fact, goats can belch once every minute to help release the gases that are created by their digestive system. They also release gas from their bottoms. As a human, people would say you were very rude if you belched once a minute. What makes the goat digestive system so different to ours?

    Goats are ruminants, like sheep and cows. Whilst humans have one stomach, ruminants have four different parts to theirs, called the rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum. It’s this special, four-part stomach that allows them to live on a diet of just plant material.

    The rumen contains lots of microorganisms which begin to break down the plant materials that the goat has eaten. As the plant materials are broken down, the bacteria produce gas which the goat would release as a burp. Every now and again, the goat coughs up a lump of partially digested plant materials called the ‘cud’. The goat chews the cud in their mouth to help break it down further and then re-swallows it. This is what is happening when you can see a goat in the field chewing but not actually grazing or browsing on any plants.

    The plant material can then pass into the reticulum which is the second part of the digestive system. If the goat has swallowed anything that is not plant material, it is collected in the reticulum so it doesn’t go any further into the system.

    The third part of the system, the omasum, has a folded shape. It grinds down the plant material and squeezes the water out of it so that it’s ready to go into the abomasum. This fourth and final part of the system is similar to our own stomach. It is filled with acids and enzymes that turn the remaining plant material into sugars and nutrients for the goat to use. As they work, the acids and enzymes produce gases which the goat will release as a fart.

    So yes, goats do pass wind. It’s an important part of their digestive process and if they don’t they can become bloated and (if they don’t get any treatment) actually die due to the trapped gases.

    We’re not sure you can use that as an excuse at the dinner table though!

    References:

    https://goatmilkstuff.com/blogs/raising-dairy-goats/a-goats-digestion

    http://articles.extension.org/pages/19363/goat-nutrition-gi-tract

    http://www.esgpip.org/PDF/Technical%20bulletin%20No.31.pdf

  • April Shower Weekday Saver

     

    Grab your wellies and waterproofs and join us at the farm! Our April Shower Weekday Saver runs from 16th – 30th of April, where children are £3 Monday-Friday for the rest of the monthl!

    Our latest arrivals on the farm include lambs, piglets, ducklings, rabbits and guinea pigs.

    Under 2’s are FREE, normal admission for adults (aged 13+) applies.

    Get directions to the farm here.

  • How much food do you get through for all the animals?

    Each month, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free family admission pass for a day at the farm, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Nevaeh, aged 7.

    The amount that we spend on food each day does vary over the year as we change the livestock that we have on site, but our calculations for what we’ve fed today should give you an idea. We have more animals on site than ever before thanks to our livestock manager Jess, but this also means that the amount of food, hay and straw we go through is enormous!

    We go through 54 kilos of animal food a day and 378 kilos of animal food a week … to put this into perspective a pygmy goat weighs around 30 kilos whilst a Landrace boer (male pig) can weigh up to 400 kilos. Our animals certainly are a hungry bunch!

    Sacrewell is supported by the William Scott Abbott Trust, and every penny spent on the farm goes straight back to the animals, the upkeep of the farm and to develop our agricultural education programmes.

     

    Please note that these figures are based on estimates from farmer Jess. We’ve excluded the weight of hay, straw and cat food for the purpose of the infographic.

     

  • #PressForProgress #ThisIsWomensWork

    Women in farming. Type these three words into a search engine, and you’ll be inundated with articles declaring that women are leaders and conquerors and entrepreneurs of the farming industry. Within the agriculture industry, women make up 28% of the workforce and this number is rising with more women starting up their own enterprises and paving their way to create successful farming businesses.

    In this, Sacrewell are unusual; the team has a strong female workforce (over 75%) whilst our senior management team and trustee board make up a similar percentage. Our backgrounds are diverse and our team includes teachers, hairdressers, TV researchers and wildlife conservationists.

    And why wouldn’t they be? A few of the team started in agriculture, but I can confidently say for the rest of us that we did not foresee a career path that would lead us to an agricultural education charity. Quite by accident and luck, in fact, we are working for an organisation led by women, which supports women in the workplace and empowers women to develop and grow a career in the farming industry. #ThisIsWomensWork

    Despite our numerous paths, we stand united in our aim to educate people about where their food comes from. This belief is the founding principle of the William Scott Abbott Trust at Sacrewell and one that goes into every objective of the business.

    On International Women’s Day, Sacrewell is also calling on you to #PressforProgress. Today, or tomorrow, or next month or even this year, we’re asking you to get outside and visit a farm. That visit could ignite a spark and inspire the next generation of farmers, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. By witnessing the live birth of a lamb, mucking out a pig sty or following the story from field to fork on a bumpy tractor ride, you’ll gain experiences that start conversations about farming. These are the moments that could lead to a life-long passion and career in agriculture. The team are proud to work in this fulfilling, supportive and exciting farming industry, even if most of us arrived quite accidentally.

    We’d like to take a moment to say thank you to Debbie Queen (our General Manager), the William Scott Abbott Trust and the rest of the Sacrewell team for supporting women and each other in the workplace.

    Women in Farming

    We’ve shared a few articles about women in agriculture below.

    Why women should be proud to work in farming

    The female face of farming

    The Female Farmer Project 

    Herds of women conquering farming

    Meet the modern day Land Girls

    Why women are taking centre field in farming

    Meet five entrepreneurial women in agriculture

    International Women’s Day

     

  • Mother’s Day Weekend: Half Price Child Admission

    Celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend on 10th and 11th March at Sacrewell where admission for children is HALF PRICE at just £5!
    Create and design a flower pot and a Mother’s day card. Also for every mum who comes in the café and makes a purchase, Origin8 at Sacrewell will be giving them a freshly prepared scone with cream & jam.

  • FARM OPEN TODAY (SUNDAY)

    **FARM OPEN TODAY*  **10 – 4.30**

    PLEASE USE CAUTION when arriving, the road leading to the farm is a private road and may be slippery in some places (for example, the slope near the A47 entrance) so use common sense when driving. Please be aware that due to our small team today we will not be able to assist should any vehicles struggle with the weather. Have a lovely day at our snowy farm, stay safe and see you soon!

    FARM VISITORS THIS WEEKEND

    Please check our website or Facebook BEFORE you travel to the farm, as well as your local weather channels for travel updates. We will post ONLINE if we have to CLOSE.

    Phones or emails won’t be picked up over the weekend as we’re a small team (and will probably be elsewhere on the farm with shovels and grit).

    In particular, the entrance slope from the A47 leading to Sacrewell does get icy despite our best efforts to grit this daily. The safety of our visitors and staff is our priority so please drive cautiously and be careful. Stay safe and warm.
    www.sacrewell.org.uk

  • How big is your biggest tractor?

    Each month, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free family admission pass for a day at the farm, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Mary Sammon’s 2 year old son.

    We only have one working tractor at Sacrewell. You might have seen it towing the trailer on one of our popular tractor rides. It’s a red Massey Ferguson 390. However, we also have a very old Little Grey Fergie for our visitors to sit on and a working yellow JCB 530 loader on site. We’ve put some facts about the two working vehicles in the table below so that you can compare them.

    Which would you say is the biggest?

    Massey Ferguson 390 

     JCB 530

    Engine power 81hp 76hp
    Height 257cm 249cm
    Length 366cm 499cm
    Width 197cm 223cm
    Lift capacity 1927kg 3000kg

     

    Mary’s son also wanted to know what colour our tractor is. This is a more important question than it might seem at first as the colour of a tractor can normally tell you which manufacturer it comes from. You can use this handy table to spot the difference between a Massey Ferguson and a John Deere from several fields away:

     

    Manufacturer Colour (usually)
    Massey Ferguson Red
    JCB Yellow
    John Deere Bright green and yellow
    New Holland Blue
    Claas Lime green and red

    If you have a child that’s fascinated with tractors Massey Ferguson, JCB and John Deere all have games and activities on their websites that you can try.

    References

    http://www.tractordata.com/farm-tractors/000/8/0/800-massey-ferguson-390-engine.html

    http://www.ritchiespecs.com/specification?type=Lifting+%26+Material+Handlin&category=Telescopic+Forklift&make=JCB&model=530-70&modelid=97975

  • We’ve moved some of our animals – find out why.

    Please be aware that we have had to MOVE all our animals off the paddocks near the main path as part of a strict paddock maintenance regime following the poor winter weather. Instead, you can find them in the animal village, the stables and in the larger paddocks off the main path. After a few weeks of paddock respite, we are planning to move the animals into their usual paddocks towards the end of January, but this will be weather dependent. We will keep you updated on our social media channels.

    We are open this Friday, Saturday and Sunday and hope you get to explore more of the farm. Make sure you visit our newly born piglets and see the newly built stables ready for the arrival of our Suffolk Punch horses. We definitely recommend some wellies!

    Here’s some footage from earlier in the week when we tried to move our Pygmy goats into the animal village – things did not go smoothly …

    Goats vs Humans

    Goats vs Humans. We've moved the pygmy goats to the stables whilst we do some paddock maintenance, but it proved trickier than we thought! We got there in the end …#behindthescenes #farmerslife #goatsvshumans #sacrewell #allhandsondeck

    Posted by Sacrewell on Thursday, 11 January 2018

  • Do you name every single animal on the farm? Do you have some sort of naming system?

    Each month, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free family admission pass for a day at the farm, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Azra Akhtar’s daughter.

    Some of the animals at Sacrewell have names, but some of them don’t. This is the case on most farms. On a commercial farm where hundreds of animals are being born, bred and sent to market each year, it doesn’t make sense to start giving each one an individual name.

    However, it is often important for farmers to be able to identify and keep track of individual animals, especially if they are moved from one farm to another. One method of doing this is to attach ear tags to the animal which carry an individual number. The tags cause no more pain to the animal than an earring does to a human. You can see them in the ears of most of the sheep and goats at Sacrewell, though the mischievous goats sometimes get them caught in bushes, fences or trees and the tags can be torn out.

    The pigs on the farm are pedigree British Landrace pigs, so there is a strict system for keeping track of them which ensures we can easily work out the parents and grandparents of each individual pig. Pedigree piglets are registered with the British Pig Association using their mother’s name and a number. The first male piglet in the first litter that a sow has will be number 1 and each subsequent piglet from that same sow will be given the next number in the sequence. The numbers are tattooed onto the ears of our piglets before they are weaned from their mother. This process causes no more pain to the animal than a human getting a small tattoo.

    Our Boer goats and Lincoln Longwool sheep are also pedigree animals, but they use a slightly different system of naming. This photo of the goat’s registration certificates shows how the system works. Ash and Acer were born at the Old Grange Farm, which uses ‘Janas’ as a first name for all of its goats. The second name then starts with a different letter each year. Ash, Acer and Albert are the first Boer goats that we’ve had at Sacrewell so their second names all start with an A. We’re hoping to have some Boer kids on the farm in 2018, which will be given the first name ‘Sacrewell’ and a second name starting with the letter B.

    We’ve also given names to some of the other animals on the farm which are bred for working rather than meat and therefore they’re at the farm for a much longer period of time. We don’t have a system for naming these and sometimes ask for suggestions from the public, though our animal team always have the final say. Examples of these include Tramp and Luna the Shetland ponies, Jolly Joules and Dicky Mint the donkeys and Rosie and Jess the farm cats.

  • Animal Village closed for refurbishment 2nd January

    The Animal Village will be closed on Wednesday 2nd of January whilst we refurbish the stables that are going to house our two rare breed Suffolk Punch horses. Work has already started in the petyard and we’re expecting Seren Haf and Brenin to arrive mid January. A huge thank you to Mr Hughs from Oswestry, who has raised them since birth for the last five years.  Make sure you keep an eye on our social media where we will be live streaming their arrival at the farm. You can read more about Suffolk Punch Horses here.

    Don’t forget we’re closed New Years Day.

     

  • FARM CLOSED SUNDAY 10th December due to snow

    Update 8.33am 10/12/17

    **FARM CLOSED TODAY**

    With the heavy snow, and the forecast projecting it will continue for most of the day we have taken the decision to close the farm today for the safety of our visitors and staff. If you have arranged a Breakfast with Santa or Santa Visit today, we will contact you in the week to reschedule this.

     

    Update 10.53am9/12/17

    The MET office issuing an amber snow warning for Peterborough on Sunday 10th December. At the farm, we’ve prepared with extra salt, gritters and staff. We intend to stay open and go ahead with planned santa visits, but please keep an eye on the website and our Facebook page for the latest weather updates at Sacrewell.

    Local weather forecast

    Santa Visits and Breakfast with Santa

    Our first concern is for the safety of our visitors and staff, so if you feel it is too dangerous to travel please get in touch before your allocated session by sending us an email to info@sacrewell.org.uk. We would never expect you to take a risk of putting yourself or anyone else in harm’s way to reach the farm.

    If you’ve let us know that you have chosen not to travel, or if we have closed the farm due to wintery weather:

    Where possible, we will try and reschedule your santa visit as Father Christmas is staying on the farm until the 24th of December. We will be in touch at the beginning of the week of the 11th December to arrange this. If you feel that a suitable date cannot be arranged then we can issue refunds on a case by case basis.

     

    Please stay safe, and we hope to see you soon.

    The Sacrewell Team

     

  • If you could introduce any new animals to the farm, which would you choose?

    Each month, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free family admission pass for a day at the farm, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Dawn Burbidge.

    In short, Suffolk Punch horses.

    Suffolk Punch horses were once the backbone of farming in East Anglia and could be seen regularly pulling ploughs across the fields. During World War 1, many were sent to the front to pull heavy artillery, which led to a drop in their numbers. The second hit on this beautiful breed came in the 1960s as farmers gradually replaced horses with tractors and their usefulness on the farm declined. In spite of efforts by the Rare Breed Survival Trust and the Suffolk Horse Society, numbers remain low, with just 33 fillies (young females) being born between 2014 and 2016.

    The breed are a characteristic chesnut colour, always spelled with just one ‘t’ when describing a Suffolk Punch, and sometimes have a white patch on their head that is called a star. They have short, strong legs which are ideal for pulling heavy loads. They have no feathers on their feet, which means they can work more easily in heavy clay soils than breeds which do have feathers such as Shire horses.

    We have been keen to bring Suffolk Punch horses to the farm for a long time and are thrilled to announce that two will be arriving early in 2018. Seren and Brenin will be travelling from their current home near the Welsh border to join us here at Sacrewell, where initially our animal team will be doing some intensive training so that the horses can eventually be used for pulling and perhaps ploughing displays around the site.

    Seren means ‘star’ in Welsh and is the name of our mare, whilst the name of our gelding, Brenin means ‘king’. We hope to breed from the mare and help to grow the numbers of this very rare breed.

    Jess went to meet the horses and take them for a test drive, which you can see in this short video from our Facebook page.

    References:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/26/britains-oldest-horse-breed-veering-towards-extinction-many/

    https://www.rbst.org.uk/Rare-and-Native-Breeds/Equine/Suffolk-Horse

    https://www.suffolkhorsesociety.org.uk/

  • How long does it take you to trim all the hooves at the farm?

    Each month, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free family admission pass for a day at the farm, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Jennie Lambert’s daughter.

    The hooves of animals grow in the same way that our human fingernails grow. They can wear down naturally if the animal spends a lot of time on rough ground, but this tends not to happen if the animal is in a nice, grassy paddock. If the hooves get too long, they can cause discomfort for the animal. They can also tear and break, leaving an uneven edge which is a potential site for infection. This is why it’s important for farmers to check and trim the hooves of their animals, in a similar way to trimming their own fingernails and toenails.

    When we put this question to our animal manager Jess, she had to grab a pen and paper to do the calculations. All of our sheep, cows, goats, ponies, donkeys and alpacas have their hooves checked at least once a month as a routine. They don’t all need trimming each month, but they do need checking. The team might also check and trim the hooves of an individual animal if it becomes lame or shows signs of ill foot health.

    Jess reckons it takes 5 minutes to catch, check and trim a sheep and 10 minutes to do each of our equines (ponies and donkeys). If she needed to trim all of the hooves at the farm in one day, it would take her approximately 6 hours and 40 minutes (without a coffee break!).

    Jess very kindly also offered to let us film her trimming a sheep’s hooves. This particular sheep took 2 minutes and 58 seconds to trim, but we’ve increased the speed of the video in places so you can see the whole process in just under 2 minutes.

  • What is the naughtiest animal on the farm and what did they do to earn this reputation?

    Each month, we ask you to share your questions about farming, food or Sacrewell with us on Facebook. The person who writes the best question wins a free family admission pass for a day at the farm, as well as having their question answered on our website. This question came from Deborah Willoughby.

    There was a lot of discussion about this question, as all the animals on the farm can get up to a bit of mischief now and again. However, there are a couple of animals who have been particularly cheeky in recent months…

    Mischievous Minstrel becomes a mum

    This July, Minstrel developed a rather naughty habit of leaping over the fences around her enclosure in the animal village. Sometimes she went exploring around the courtyard, other times she went visiting the rabbits in the surrounding pens. She seemed particularly keen on visiting McVitie, a brown Lionhead buck.

    After a few weeks, things calmed down and Minstrel went back to her former, unadventurous self. A quick check by our weekly volunteer, Dee confirmed our suspicions. Minstrel was pregnant.

    Minstrel gave birth to a lovely litter of kits on August 8th. If you see them next time you visit the farm, you’ll be able to see the family resemblance. Two are jet black, just like Minstrel their mum, and two are pale brown, just like McVitie.

    Archie and Winston make a great escape

    Pygmy goats Archie and Winston were up to mischief as soon as they arrived at Sacrewell. They were initially placed in the paddock in front of the farm house, which has a landscape feature called a ‘ha ha’ as one of its boundaries. On their second day, Jill and Jess were watching them from the main path, when Archie decided to make a leap for freedom. His brother Winston quickly followed and both goats were soon up on the ha ha, nibbling away at the shrubs. They seemed to know how naughty they’d been, as they leapt back down as soon as Jill and Jess had run round the buildings to join them. Jess then sourced some emergency raisins from Origin8 to tempt them into their field shelter, where they could be safely contained overnight.

    On their third day, Winston and Archie were relocated to the neighbouring paddock, which has a much higher stone wall as a boundary. All seemed to be fine for a few days, till the fearless brothers decided to show off their climbing skills by scaling this stone wall as well! The overhanging hedge proved to be just too tasty to resist.

    We think we’ve got these naughty goats penned in now though. Ryan installed an electric fence in front of the stone wall and that seems to have dissuaded the goats from any further adventures. However, they’ll be joining forces soon with our other pygmy goat Hardy, and then who knows what will happen!

  • How do you like your eggs in the morning?

    If you’ve visited the farm recently, you may have noticed that the Discovery Centre is looking a little quiet. There will be some changes in the animal village over the next few months, and some of our smaller, furrier animals will be going to retirement homes. However, we’re really excited to announce that we will be using this space to develop our hatchery.

    At the moment, we have one incubator. This keeps the eggs at the right temperature (37.5°C for chicken eggs) and keeps the air moist enough (around 50%) so that any fertile eggs should hatch in around 21 days. Our incubator can also roll the eggs, which replicates the way that the mother hen would naturally turn her eggs on a regular basis.

    If you are very lucky, you might see some chicks hatching in the incubator whilst visiting Sacrewell. The chicks need to stay in the incubator until they are dry and fluffy, so although our team check on the eggs each morning and night, there’s no need for urgent action during the hatching process. The chick can actually survive up to 24 hours after hatching before it needs to have any food or water.

    With the development of the hatchery, we can have chicks and ducklings all year round. From polish bantam chickens to quails to New Hampshire reds, there will be more feathered friends at the farm when you visit next.

    If you’ve thought about keeping chickens, ducks or other type of poultry then watch this space.