Every springtime Wiltshire College’s Lackham Farm, near Chippenham, Wiltshire, opens up its doors to the public for two ‘Lackham lambing weekends’. This gives families (and big kids like me) the chance to see inside a working farm and to get up close and personal to the animals, including a chance to see lambs being born and feed deer.
Visiting the farm animals
Split into two sites, once you’ve parked up you get the chance to visit stalls selling local produce, and wander around the farm visiting everything from turkeys and guinea pigs through to donkeys and pigs. One highlight was getting to see a sow and her gorgeous little piglets and I couldn’t help but but grin watching all the children around you getting exciting about seeing all the animals for the first time.
Milking the cows
Visitors also get the chance to see the dairy herd (pedigree Holstein Friesians I’ll have you know!) being milked, and you’re able to go into the milking barn and watch the process in action. This was something new for me, and was really interesting to watch from the comfort of the command centre!
The chance to watch a lamb being born
A short tractor journey takes you to the second base on the farm, which is where you can visit the lambing sheds. In this area, all the heavily pregnant sheep are kept in pens, and moved from area to area depending how close they are to giving birth. This year I didn’t get to see any being born, however, the year before I was lucky enough to watch a couple of gorgeous lambs being born and take their first steps – it’s all down to timing and a spot of good luck really. They’re all well looked after and staff and students are all around ready to leap in and help if any of them get into difficulties.
Once born the new lambs and their mothers are moved to smaller little pens housed within a big shed, where they get to bond and visitors can see them a bit closer and find out more about the farm’s work.
It was very interesting to find out what they do with the newborns and why. For example, their goal is to turn out all ewes with two lambs. This happens because when there are triplets, sometimes there isn’t enough milk to go around and so the strongest of the triplets is fostered off to a single-bearing ewe. If there are no ewes with singles available then the strongest lamb is orphaned and reared on the bottle, which gives all three the best chances of survival.
There was also information on the kinds of breeds the farm rears, weaning, healthcare and shearing as well as pregnancy and giving birth.
Lackham lambing weekends 2016
The lambing weekends are a lovely introduction to life on a working farm and a really great family day out. Well worth a visit, 2016’s dates have been confirmed as March 12-13th and 19th and 20th. Perhaps we’ll see you there!