During lockdown, although Barleylands Farm Park is closed, we are still keeping busy looking after all of the lovely animals here at Barleylands in Billericay, Essex.
Jordan, our Farm Park Manager, Emma, our Assistant Farm Park Manager and Molly, our Livestock Supervisor have their hands full looking after our pigs, goats, sheep, alpacas, chickens, geese, rabbits, guinea pigs, cows, donkeys, turkeys and more! Twenty-two of our sheep are also pregnant and they are due to start giving birth from mid-February. We have a selection of different breeds here including; Suffolks, Herdwick, Bleu De Maine, Kerry Hill, Wiltshire Horn, Gotland and Devon Longwool. The ewe with the really fluffy coat where you can hardly see her eyes at the top of the page is called Rapunzel, she is our Devon Longwool and is a first time mum this year. She is looking particularly big, and not just due to her wooly coat!
All of our lovely sheep have been enjoying being out in the fields over the past few weeks, eating the last remaining bit of grass but they have now moved inside to their Winter accommodation. They have a shiny, spacious new barn in which to give birth, and they are all looking forward to a nice clean fresh bed made from straw. The team here will be at their beck and call making sure they have endless amounts of hay available for them to munch on, as well as concentrated food and fresh water. By nature the ewes are quite docile and are quite enjoying this quiet period.
In contrast the goats are going stir crazy being contained. We have twelve nanny goats that are due to give birth towards Easter. However two individuals; Dotty and Peaches, will be kidding at the same time as the sheep. Both girls are bagging up (where their udders get larger and start to fill with milk) and are starting to get larger and larger. Whilst they are pleased to be inside, they spend a lot of their time laying down and chasing the other goats our of their sleeping space. There is the occasional head butt between them but once they have all eaten they settle down well together.
We also have a few little hooligan goats who were born last year that aren’t pregnant. They get bored very quickly and despite lots of enrichment in the form of Christmas trees and climbing frames, they will often find a way to escape. They don’t wander too far though and, much to the amusement of the keepers, they will often follow them around the farm just to nosey at what we are doing.
With just the three members of staff working through the hardest time of the year, it certainly is tough. Compared to lockdown last year, where a lot of the animals were outside due to the warm weather, all of the animals are now inside. This means that the animals require more feed and mucking out more regularly.
Emma, our Assistant Farm Park Manager at Barleylands Farm Park in Billericay, Essex, says “They are a bit pampered and a bit spoilt! On the plus side it helps to keep us all fit from all the walking that we do.”
“We were disappointed to cancel some of our Father Christmas and fireworks events under government guidelines, however we are looking forward to opening once safe to do so. In the mean time we shall continue to wait on all the animals here and I’ve no doubt the goats will keep us in check if we aren’t fast enough with their feed!”
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