Last week we welcomed a quartet of orphan lambs to our flock. The new additions are triplets from Seabrook Farms in Suffolk, whose flock graze on the National Trust run estate of Ickworth.

Ickworth

The National Trust’s Ickworth Park. Photo by Andrew Butler.

Unlike the rest of our flock which are composed of native and rare breeds, the new lambs are commercial mixed breeds (mules), sired by Texel rams with either Suffolk crossed ewes or North Country Mules as their mothers. The Texel breed originates from the island of Texel in the Netherlands and these sheep are well muscled, producing lean lambs. North of England Mules are crosses between traditional ‘mules’ (the result of breeding lowland rams and upland or hill ewes) and Swaledale ewes.

Breeds of Sheep

Our lambs can trace their ancestry to the Swaledale, Texel and Suffolk breeds. Photos by David Illiff, Evelyn Simak and J Gareth P.

The four lambs we have taken on are one girl (the largest white lamb) and three boys and all are triplets. When a ewe gives birth to three or more lambs, she is typically unable to supply enough milk to raise all three on her own. Farmers may be able to adopt the extra lamb onto a ewe who has had a single lamb or lost a lamb, or in this case, choose to rear the lambs by bottlefeeding. We are helping to raise the foursome for the next few months and it will be incredible to watch them grow from little lambs to proper sheep! More photos on the next page! Continue reading


Sooty the lamb

Sooty the lamb meeting visitors at Westfield Stratford City.

It’s a busy week for us on the farm with Easter holidays in full swing and lots of activities taking place at Mudchute Park & Farm. We’re also busy taking some of our animals to greet their public further afield at Westfield Stratford City for the shopping centre’s Easter Kids at the Farm event.

Petting Rabbits and Guinea Pigs

Young visitors meet our rabbits and guinea pigs.

You can see some of your Mudchute favourites as they visit Westfield London’s Chestnut Plaza. Our animals at Westfield include baby lambs, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, donkeys and more! We’ll be at Westfield from 11am – 3pm all this week until Saturday, April 6th. Come say hello!

Will you be visiting us at Westfield this week? Share your photos with us via twitter by tweeting @mudchute and @westfieldstrat using “#kidsatthefarm” for a chance to win you and your family a VIP farm tour of Mudchute! You can also post your photos to our facebook page (/MudchuteParkFarm).

We’ll be back at Westfield from 11 tomorrow and hope to see you there! In the mean time, find some of our photos from Day 1 at Mudchute on the next page!

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Ice and snow

Ice and snow on spring foliage.

As we approach the end of March, it is still feeling rather wintry. Snow and ice remain on the ground, despite the arrival of spring. With freezing temperatures and more snow predicted, we can only hope for warmer, more season typical temperatures in the coming month. The cold weather has meant that we have not seen too many developments from last month, but if you look carefully, there are certainly a few more signs that spring is on its way. All around the farm, daffodils have come into flower and in the past week we’ve spotted frogspawn on the ponds, despite the freezing temperatures.

We are also starting to see a change in bird life as winter migrants such as redwings and fieldfares begin to leave the UK to return further North, and birds who have wintered further South such as chiffchaffs, blackcaps and whitethroats are returning to the UK after a winter spent enjoying the warmer climates of Southern Europe and Africa. For many birds, nest building is well underway, timed for baby birds to hatch as spring brings new foliage and insects (a protein rich, baby bird food). As you walk through the farm, you may notice more birds singing as they defend their territories and spot adult birds of all species carrying nesting materials in their beaks as they construct their nests. The number and variety of birds singing will be increasing over April as more migrant birds return to breed in Britain and we are approaching the best time of year to listen in on this incredible chorus. Join us next month for a May dawn chorus walk to discover more about the birds breeding here at Mudchute (details coming soon).

As temperatures rise, keep an eye out for more early spring flowers making their debut, including bluebells towards the end of April and the delicate white flowers of cow parsley. With these flowers come pollinators in the form of butterflies, flies and bees, who will be busy taking advantage of these early flowers on warm days. See more photos of what to watch this April on the next page.

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