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Please help replace our animal shelters

Please help us to replace the seven large animal shelters in our back field's. The shelters are currently old, with holes in the roofs and no sides. New weather proof shelters will provide much needed protection from the Great British weather.

Our animals are the main focus of all our activities, and we would like to give them the best possible accommodation, making sure they are comfortable and protected.

We have a selection of larger animals including our miniature donkeys, Mackenzie and McCoy, our flock of Zwartbles sheep and our selection of goats including, Jet the Anglo-Nubian. At night they all have warm and cosy shelters in our yard, during the day they graze out in the paddocks.

A covered shelter is important both on hot days for shade and during cold/winter days to protect them from the wind and rain.

At the moment, the shelters in the back fields desperately need to be replaced: they are old, they do not have sides and the roofs leak. To make matters worse two of the shelters lost part of their roofs due to Storm Eunice.

The fields are very exposed and replacing the shelters with ones that have three sides will provide a dry space in rain, shade in the sun and warmth in the cold to make their enclosures more welcoming and fit for purpose.

Our fundraising target of £5800 will buy the raw materials for our onsite team to craft the new structures. The seven shelters will be built with a strong timber framework and clad in shatterproof recycled plastic eco sheets.

Please donate today to help us continue to provide the best possible environment for our beautiful animals.

Oscar’s Playground Update

Thank you so much for your kind donations to get the playground open.

The work is now complete and the playground has reopened with a brand new surface and new equipment to play on.

Oscars playground was built in memory of Oscar Ashton, a little boy from Wimbledon who passed away in 2012 from an undiagnosed heart defect. Oscar was a frequent visitor to the farm with his family, who helped to raise £10,000 to transform an underused part of the farm into a fun and educational area for children to enjoy.

We are open from 10am-4:30, last admission is at 4pm, the playground will be open during these times. 

Nick’s Birdland

Yesterday we had our final unveiling of a new sign and plaque for our finished duck area. This marks the completion of the long labour of love with rebuilding our chicken enclosures, aviaries and new duck pond, a project which started in early 2015. 

Our old chicken area was just about clinging on, but with many years of bodges and improvised repairs, it was starting to suffer a bit to say the least, so the plan was to demolish the whole thing, plan a new layout and make much better use of the space. Ultimately we’d end up moving all the aviaries out to the front as well, including Edna the owl and our canaries and finches! 

As with many things, and especially being a small charity, funds is always something we have to be aware of. It was during one such appeal for help that we were contacted by Brian & Sally, who have been of immense help during this project. They got in touch wanting to contribute to create a lasting memorial for his son, Nick, who passed away in 2000. His love of animals and their input has helped shape the latter half of our re-build.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NICK’S BIRDLAND

Our son Nick died in 2000 following a long battle against testicular cancer. He was 23 years old. In the years following his death we have looked at different ways of creating a lasting memorial to him and have waited to find the right opportunity.

Then in August 2015, having seen an appeal by Deen City Farm for funds to create a new duck pond area, we met with the Farm managers and agreed to sponsor the development. We also funded the new aviary, additional chicken enclosures, Edna’s owl house and the chick hatchery which are next to the new duck pond.

This wonderful area represents Nick’s love of animals and the musical notes in the mural on the back wall of the duck pond speak of his great interest in music.
We have called the area NICK’S BIRDLAND and we hope all visitors to the Farm will appreciate and enjoy this special place.

We wish to thank all the staff and volunteers at the Farm for the tireless commitment and effort which has brought this project to fruition.

Brian Dillon

 

 

Happy birthday Edna!

♬~Happy birthday to you~♫ Happy birthday to you~♪ Happy birthday dear Ednaaaaa~♩ Happy birthday to you!

Edna, our resident Barn Owl, is celebrating her 6th birthday today! Livestock Manager Tom has treated her to some new decorations in her aviary. 

 

Edna has been living with Tom since she was 10 weeks old, so it’s been quite a while! Because Edna was hand raised, she’s never been suitable to be released into the wild, so is very content with living amongst humans. In the wild, most Barn Owls don’t make it to their first year, but in captivity with proper care they can live upwards of 15 years, so Edna’s got many more years ahead of her! 

If you don’t already, you should definitely check out our instagram account! 

The Cheviot Landrace Goat comes to DCF!

As if the coming summer wasn’t busy enough, we’ve had a troop of new arrivals at the farm. If you’ve popped down in the past couple of weeks, you might have noticed a rather handsome looking group of goats has turned up! They are currently in isolation in one of our large pens on the farmyard, but hopefully it won’t be long before they can go out and join the other livestock grazing in the paddocks. 

There’s more to these goats than meets the eye though! These are Cheviot Landrace Goats, a truly Old English breed. Without getting too complicated, if you were to go back in time these are the goats you would find roaming feral across the English countryside. They were deemed a pest, and bought very close to extinction. The 9 goats we’ve got at Deen City Farm have come from a Thorndon Country Park in Essex, and will form the start of our breeding group! 

 

Even though these goats have been used to living without much human contact, it’s amazing how fast they can settle in! The kids are still a bit shy, but the adults are very happy to come over and check out any hands for tasty grass nuts. Did you know that goats are the second fastest animal to adjust to living feral? (Cats being the fastest!), it seems the opposite is true too, and they’re very quick to get used to people as well! 

 

The goats that were chosen from the herd to come to Deen City Farm were picked out with the assistance of our colleague (and master of all things goat!) Ray Werner, an expert on all things Cheviot Goat. When it comes to picking the ideal goats, it’s not just about picking out the ones that you like the look of, you need to know what to look for (hence Ray’s expert input!). The one male and three females were picked out from the crowd based on their colour patterns, good conformation and movement as well as meeting the breed standards devised by the Cheviot Landrace Goat society. 

After a nervous few days, it wasn’t long before the goats have settled well into city farm life, generally minding their own business unless there’s any tasty snacks on offer! The kids are a little bit nervous, but we’re getting there! Come down and say hello to them during the summer! 

The pitter patter of tiny feet…

If you’ve been following our Facebook or Instagram posts (which you should be!) you might have seen some photos of our newest arrivals at the farm. This week we’ve had two very small and very cute new comers to the farm. Say hello to Spritz and Blitz! They are a brother and sister pair of 12 week old Pygmy Goats. At the moment they’re a bit nervous – it’s a lot to take on, going from their quite small holding onto a busy little farm, so they might be a bit shy for now, but we hope that will change shortly! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pygmy goats are a popular breed for people to keep; you may have seen some before at other farms. They’re small (as the name might give away) and like most goats, can be very friendly! These two are still a bit nervous around people, so it’ll take them a while to get used to their new life, but we reckon they’ll soon settle in. 

 

This particular pair are locally bred, from the lovely people behind Pecking Orders!

New arrivals – the lambs!

The lambs have arrived, Spring is definitely in the air! Our first pair of lambs was born during a sunny lunch break at the start of this month and the other ewes soon decided to follow suit. We’ve ended up with 7 new arrivals in total (three sets of doubles and one big burly single). With the help of our Junior Volunteers they’ve been christened Edgar, Eleanor, Audrey, Anne, Grace, Galileo and Martin. 

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At Deen City Farm we keep a flock of Poll Dorset sheep, which lamb every year around late February/March time. If you ever see a breed or animal described as a “poll” or “polled” it means it doesn’t have horns – the Poll Dorset sheep is descended from an old English breed known as the Dorset Horn, which as you can imagine from the name, is well recognised for it’s rather impressive, large curly horns. We’ve got a soft spot for our Poll Dorset sheep, not only do they have a great personality (even our ram, Herman, is a gentle giant) but they make exceedingly cute lambs. Judge for yourself! 

If you want to try your luck with telling them apart, the stock marker letters on the side of all the sheep will definitely help out. The ewes can tell which lambs are theirs from their smell and calls, but for us humans it’s a little bit harder. Every sheep (apart from the boys in their separate field) has the first letter of their name on them – with the lambs, the names begin with the same letter as their mothers name, and the letters in blue are girls, and any in green are boys. Simple!  

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Amelia & Penelope on TV!

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If you were watching TV this week, you might have spotted some familiar faces on BBC2’s Further Back In Time For Dinner. Aside from Adam Henson, our two lovely pedigree Oxford Sandy & Black girls, Amelia and Penelope, and their friend Maurice from Merrist Wood College had their moment in the limelight! 

Our little group of pigs was helping to cover the topic of Pig Clubs during the World War, though it looks like they were largely happy to be fussed and have a chance to laze around in the last of the summer sun. You can watch the episode on iPlayer, we’re at around half an hour in.

 

Goodbye old Aviary

The yard is looking very spacious at the moment!

With our new aviary finished (housing our quail, canaries and finches) and all the birds moved across we were finally able to start disassembling our old one. The old aviary was originally built in 2002 and has certainly stood the test of time for a while. In fact it’s been there for so long that none of the staff really had any idea what might be beneath it (turns out, just a lot of soil and concrete).

After 15 years though, it was on its last legs, especially with all the mesh taken off and strong winds forecast over the weekend, we decided to help speed up the process of getting it down with some help from staff, volunteers and a bit of elbow grease.

In terms of what will happen to the space, we’ve got some grand plans for what might happen in the main yard, but for now we’ll be busy shovelling out soil for a while yet!

[youtube height=”360″ width=”640″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGN8weEgvEY[/youtube]

Year of the Rooster!

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Today marks the beginning of Chinese New Year, and this year, it’s the Year of the Rooster. Of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals, this is one we can definitely get behind. Whilst we might not have any amazing Lion dances and parades, it does seem like an opportune moment to talk about our most vocal member of the farm!

Whilst the Chinese term is a bit more generic, and refers to any kind of farmyard fowl, male or female, in English, rooster (or cockerel) is used exclusively for male chickens. We have three permanent cockerel residents, one of each of the different kinds of breed we keep, living with their respective hens.

The large, orangey brown chickens are the Buff Orpingtons, the small dainty black and white chickens are Silver Spangled Hamburgs and the brown, faintly barred chickens with the majestic looking cockerel are the Cream Legbars.

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Unlike some of the other animals, when it comes to chickens the males and females are easy to tell apart – the technical term for it is sexual dimorphism. Next time you’re down at the farm, have a look in each enclosure and see if you can tell which one’s which. Cockerels are often identifiable by looking at;

  • Their size – they’re usually bigger and bulkier then the hens.
  • Their comb & wattle – one of the first things you might notice is the bigger red bits on their heads. The combs sit on top and the wattle hangs below their beaks.
  • Tail feathers – though not always the case, the cockerels will often have bigger, longer, fancier looking tail feathers.
  • Spurs – with older, well established cockerels, have a look at their feet. You might notice a big, extra claw on each leg – this is a spur, they’ll use them for fighting!
  • Different colour feathers – as with the tail feathers, sometimes, but not always, the males might have slightly different colours, patterns or even look completely different!
  • Listen – the cockerels will crow, they can be very loud when they want too!

 

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There’s only one cockerel in each pen, the reason being that they can be very territorial and strict with their flock hierarchy or pecking-order! If there’s more than one cockerel they’ll often fight to find out who’s the boss – not particularly enjoyable when you’re in an enclosed space with nowhere to hide, so to keep it simple and safe, we have one cockerel to multiple hens.

If you’re keeping hens yourself and just want to be able to collect eggs, you don’t even need to keep a cockerel. Hens will lay eggs regardless of the presence of a cockerel at all, however they won’t be fertile, meaning that you’ll never be able to incubate them to hatch chicks. If you’re just after laying hens for eggs though, that’s no problem at all! At Deen City Farm we use our own eggs for our Incubator Schemes, so it’s important for us to have fertile eggs (otherwise we’d have a lot of very disappointed school children!).

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Re-homing Chickens

Sadly every year, without fail, we have people asking if we’ll re-home their unwanted hens or cockerels, or even worse, illegally dumped on our site. We are not a re-homing or rescue centre, we’re a working farm with  – first and foremost – our own poultry and animals to care for.

If you are thinking about rearing chicks or hatching your own chickens, please do consider the (very likely) eventuality that you will wind up with cockerels, and that they will fight with each other and will crow from dawn until dusk! If in doubt, it’s much safer to buy point-of-lay hens from a respectable keeper.

Chickens can make a wonderful addition to any garden and can be fun animals to have around; as with any animal you take on, you have a duty of care towards it, so it’s important to think long and hard about it before you make any decisions!