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Out staff and volunteers have been helping to tidy up wayward branches and untidy stumps around the farm. The resulting branches make excellent enrichment and browse for our goats. The cuttings help the goats express their natural browsing behaviour and make a tasty snack too!

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Hope all had a very happy Christmas! Here on the farm, our goats have been enjoying Christmas Treats of Christmas trees! The trees provide lots of fibre and offer a bit of enrichment. Our goats love a bit of forage and the trees are no exception. They were curious and cautious at first, but that didn’t last long!

We’d like to remind visitors that we do need to ensure our animals receive a balanced diet, so please refrain from feeding any trees or branches to our animals yourselves. And if you are visiting us over the holiday period, don’t forget to check our holiday opening times, which can be found here.

Our Anglo Nubian goats were the first on the scene.

Our Anglo Nubian goats were the first on the scene.

A quick sniff.

A quick sniff.

And they're off!

And they’re off!

Happy goats!

Happy goats!

All tucking in.

All tucking in.

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Across Mudchute, we try to encourage and support our local wildlife and in order to do so, we must manage our habitats for local flora and fauna populations. Last year we began restoration projects on our banks, returning these areas to more open grassland. This year we are continuing to do so in several areas across the site where brambles have recently taken over.

Thorny and frost hardy!

Thorny and frost hardy!

Brambles are fast-growing and can make excellent habitat for nesting birds, but they also crowd out many of the flora and fauna that inhabit the open grassland habitats that Mudchute offers. We have taken professional advice as to where and when works can be carried out and our works are targeting key habitats. To minimise disruption to wildlife, we will be carrying out the works now so not to interfere with nesting birds.

To remove the brambles, we must not only cut back the visible growth, but also remove their roots to prevent rapid recolonisation. New canes begin growing as new shoots from just below the surface in the form of bright pink new buds. Brambles have a few other tricks up their sleeves as well. If a cane meets the soil, the area in contact with the soil can put out roots of its own, tapping into even more resources and fuelling even more growth! And of course, one cannot forget those unforgiving thorns, which are found across the plant, even including its leaves!

All in all, cutting the brambles back is a tough job, but we look forward to seeing the benefits soon. The area may look a bit messy at the moment, but Spring should bring some rather more interesting wildflowers to the area. Thank you for your patience and understanding!

In the meantime, we have produced lots of delicious forage for our goats and pigs and the local wildlife have even pulled together an impromptu cleanup crew, following us as they forage for invertebrates in the disturbed soil. There are plenty of robins in tow and we have even spotted a fox having a go at some earthworms!

Interesting in lending a hand? Could you lend your expertise or equipment? We are always grateful for contributions! Please get in touch with us at voluntering@mudchute.org or to find out more about other ways you can help support our work.