This year’s young chicks came to us as hatching eggs from Keith’s Orpingtons¬†and were artificially incubated by local schools as part of Mudchute Education’s Hatch and Brood project. This programme gives children a chance to watch the young chicks develop within the egg and observe the hatching process firsthand, all in their own classrooms. For a glimpse at how chicks develop within the egg, you can see candled eggs here and incredible photos of developing chicken embryos here.

Our new chicks are purebred Bantam Orpingtons, which will show similar characteristics to our Buff Orpingtons, but achieve a smaller adult size. The chicks are a wide range of colours, including lavender and other unusual varieties. We look forward to watching them grow up over the next few weeks and months. You can learn more about the breed from The Orpington Club.

Are you interested in keeping chickens in your backyard? In addition to providing delicious fresh eggs, chickens are excellent at eradicating weeds and pests, can help recycle waste and enrich and fertilise your soil. Here at the farm, we are looking to run an Introduction to Keeping Chickens in the coming months. If you are interested in joining our upcoming courses and finding out more about how you can keep chickens in your own backyard, please get in touch with us at farm_office@mudchute.org.


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


Our new trio of young ferrets are a very active, inquisitive bunch, always on the look out for a new adventure. To keep them out of trouble (and their minds and bodies active), they have a brand new enclosure filled with opportunities to dig, climb and tunnel to their hearts’ content! You can now find them in the enclosures opposite the Living Classroom! We’re still adding a few finishing touches to the new enclosure, but you can take a peek at their new quarters complete with ramps, tubes and a ‘sand box’ on the next page!

Continue reading