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This week we welcomed two beautiful sisters to the farm, our new large black piglets! Many thanks to John and Lorraine Cavanagh for helping bring this stunning native breed to Mudchute. The piglets may not look big now, but these sows will grow quickly and could easily weigh 300kg each as adults! Parkinson’s 1810 description of this native breed includes the following note on their impressive size “They are distinguished by their gigantic size, they are the largest of the kind I have ever seen, and as perfect a make as possible in pigs … their heads are large, with very long ears hanging down on each side of the face, so they can scarcely see their way”.

The large black is Britain’s only all black breed of pig and they have an interesting origin story. It’s said that two boatloads of all black pigs from China docked in Cornwall and East Anglia and these individuals were used to breed with the local pigs, resulting in the beginnings of the breed. To find out more about this rare native breed, visit the RBST page on Large Blacks as well as the Large Black Pig Breeders Club which was founded in 1889.

As a breed, large blacks are known for their docile nature and the new piglets are already very friendly. We’re sure they’ll be greatly loved by our visitors and already adored by our staff and volunteers! We hope you enjoy meeting them and look forward to sharing updates as they grow!


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A warm welcome to Mudchute for the four new Southdown ewe lambs! The girls join us from Tim and Lynn Morris’ Kitwell flock in Hertfordshire where they were born last April. The Morrises have kindly donated Emily, Esther, Esmeralda & Enya to Mudchute. Thank you very much for these beautiful sheep, we are sure they will be very happy here at Mudchute!

The ewes will be founding members of the Mudchute Southdown flock. Southdown sheep are the oldest of the terminal sire breeds in the UK. The breed traces its roots to the nearby South Downs of the South of England. To find out more about this gorgeous “teddy bear faced” native sheep breed, you can find their brief history here and more about Southdown Sheep from the Southdown Sheep Society.

Here at Mudchute, the ewes will working with our lucky Young Farmers. They’ll be settling in to life at Mudchute over the next week or so, but should be making their debut on our fields soon. So be sure to keep an eye out for these gorgeous new girls.

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The Morrises have even been kind enough to send us some baby photos of the ewes. We look forward to sharing more photos as they settle into life here at Mudchute!


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Hatching is underway at Mudchute, with the first of Spring’s arrivals making their way into the world. We welcomed our first ducklings last week. The newly hatched ducklings include a mix of Aylesbury and Runner ducklings and will be joined by further ducklings and chicks over the coming weeks and months.

These precocious youngsters spend nearly a month developing in the egg and are capable of walking and feeding themselves shortly after breaking free of the egg. However, breaking the eggshell from within is hard work. Chicks and ducklings first begin with an “internal pip” internally breaking into the air sac a the wide end of the egg, taking their first breaths. They then break the egg shell (an “external pip”) before they begin to unzip the shell.

Watching the growth and development of the embryos is fascinating and we’ve shared some of the process previously here on the blog. We’re also happy to share the experience with local school groups who participate in our Hatch and Brood programme, where eggs are incubated right in the classroom. Good luck to all of our participating schools! To find out more about the programme including how your school can take part, please visit our Education pages.