Where to see new born lambs in Norfolk
Lambs – cute, cuddly and coming to a farm near you. As farmers have their hands full dealing with spring newborns, you can see this marvel up close too. SIMON PARKIN previews where to visit.
It is the time of year which makes a visit to the farm a little bit more exciting as bouncy, hungry lambs are eager to see new visitors and especially on farms where visitors can help to bottle feed the little animals.
Frolicking newborn lambs are actually born throughout the year, but the majority arrive in the lambing season from late February to April, when the weather is getting warmer and the grass is starting to grow.
The lambing season is always one of the busiest in the farming calendar. Farmers need to be on call 24 hours a day to make sure the sheep are well looked after. However, it is also one of the most satisfying times of the year and is an enjoyable yet educational event for children to experience.
There are several farms across the region that welcome visitors, at which you can, as well as meeting the lambs, often feed them and enjoy a range of other activities that truly prove spring is in the air.
WROXHAM BARNS JUNIOR FARM
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Wroxham Barns, Hoveton, open daily 10am-5pm, admission to Junior Farm �5.50, under-2s free, 01603 783911, www.wroxhambarns.co.uk
Sit on the bales of hay, get your bottle of warm milk at the ready and watch as the baby lambs are led to the bottles and guzzle away. This is a hands-on experience not to be missed and it takes place on the farm three times a day. Lamb feeding takes place at 11am, 1.30pm and 3.30pm and some feeding times can be busy so children (ages 2+) might have to share holding a bottle. Wroxham Barns' lambs are all the smallest of triplets from local farms and will consume more than 5,000 litres of milk during the bottle-feeding season up to the end of July. Ewes find it difficult to look after triplets, so visitors who feed the lambs are helping out as surrogate mums. You can also pitch in feeding guinea pigs, rabbits and pygmy goats plus ducks and geese on the pond; take part in the pony grooming session and watch the farm staff feed the friendly pigs. And don't forget to meet Wroxie, the farm's life-size mechanical cow, where the whole family can practice their milking skills.
Stow Bardolph, off the A10, until May 1, open daily 10am-5pm, �7.20 (�6.30 cons), �6.30 children, under-3s free, �25 family, 01366 382162, www.churchfarmstowbardolph.co.uk
Lambing season is now underway and the 'maternity ward' at Church Farm. They now have have two sets of twin lambs born to their Norfolk Horn Ewes, plus seven petting lambs for you to stroke. A series of lambing encounters and animal activities, including new piglets and calves, are held being every day. Lambing encounters are held from 11.15am-12pm, 2pm-2.45pm and 4pm-4.30pm, while at 12.30pm you can see how we care for individual animals and at 3pm watch the pigs being fed. There are lots of other baby animals to see as well, including ducklings, baby guinea pigs, baby giant rabbits and goat kids.
Snettisham Park, Snettisham, open daily 10am-4pm, farm admission �6.65 (�5.75 cons), �5.65 children (3-16), under-3s free, family �22.50, 01485 542425, www.snettishampark.co.uk
Spring has most definitely sprung in the shape of a batch of new baby lambs down on the farm at Snettisham Park. Snettisham is a traditional Norfolk farm growing wheat, barley, sugar beet and grass. They have 500 Suffolk mules which lamb from February until May and the lambing barn really is the heart of the farm at this time of year. If you are lucky visitors can see lambs being born, ewes and lambs mothering and even help bottle feed the hungry arrivals. As well as the lambs can also cuddle the rabbits and the guinea pigs and then take a walk through the farm, meeting Libby the pig as well as Inky the Llama on the way. Visitors can also meet the herd of red deer which comprises 60 hinds and four stags. May to July is calving which is an ideal time to see beautiful baby calves.
MELSOP FARM PARK
Ellingham Road, Scoulton, near Watton, Sat-Sun 10am-5pm/Tues-Sun 10am-5pm from March 1, �7 (�6 cons), �6 children (3+), �4 (2), under-2s free, 01953 851943, www.melsopfarmpark.co.uk
There are lots of babies to coo over at Melsop at this time of year including the lambs and visitors can get close to the little wooly bundles on this friendly farm. There are wide variety of rare sheep breeds kept on the farm including Balwen, Ryeland, Southdown, Jacob, Hebridean, Grey Face Dartmoor, Norfolk Horn and Ouessant, which are the smallest sheep in the world. As well as the lambs, visitors you can also meet many other residents on the farm including cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens. Down on the duck pond you can take a look at the colourful runner ducks and the large Toulouse Geese. And children can let off steam on the indoor and outdoor play areas where they can climb, jump, bounce and dive into ball pools until its time to go home.
Wimpole Home Farm
Wimpole Hall, Arrington, Royston, Cambridgeshire, 10.30am-5pm, farm only admission �7.60, �5.20 children, �23.70 family, 01223 206000, www.wimpole.org
Lambing days at Wimpole take place between March 17 to April 5. If you visit the farm during these times you may get the chance to witness the birth and if not you will certainly see lambs in their first few hours of life. Most of the sheep on the National Trust farm are rare breeds. There are 10 different breeds altogether these include Portland's, Manx Logthan, Hebridean, Soays and Norfolk Horns to name a few. Most ewes lie down to give birth and then stand up almost immediately in order to turn around to get to their newly born lamb. After the birth, the lambs and their mother are left for a time to form a close bond and when this has taken place the ewe and lambs are moved into an individual pen for 24 hours to make sure they all settle down together. Listen and learn from Home Farm shepherd.