The native Grey Partridge has suffered a dramatic decline in recent years
In the days before intensive agriculture, many of our field and land boundaries were bordered with hedgerows rich in flowers, thorns and berries which provided food, cover and nesting sites for a wide variety of birds. Now, however, modern farming practices and a scarcity of suitable nesting sites means that we rarely, if ever, see this bird which was once a common sight on farm land and open grassland.
The Grey Partridge is now a Priority species that needs protection. Here at Murton we breed and release them into the surrounding area. This is part of a grant scheme to increase numbers of protected species.
We have both Red and Yellow Golden Pheasants at Murton. Golden Pheasants are characterised by their strong differences between the sexes. The males are highly ornate with bright colours and adornments such as wattles and long tails. Look out for their deep orange ‘capes’ which they spread in display. These give the appearance of an alternating black and orange fan that covers all of the bird’s face except for its bright yellow eye with black pin-point pupil.
The females are much less showy and not dissimilar to the common pheasant hen.
On the farm’s pond, you’ll see a range of handsome Ducks.
They are Cayuga Ducks an American breed of duck and take their name from Lake Cayuga in the state of New York. Indian Runner Ducks described as the most peculiar duck with a thin neck and long body. In the 1830’s it was commonly called the Penguin Duck. Muscovy Ducks a native to South America and Mexico in particular, Muscovy Ducks have long claws on their feet and a wide flat tail. We also have Swedish Blues and White Pekins.
We have a wide variety of chickens who live in pens around the farm. Here you’ll see many exotic breeds such as the White Cochin with their feathery feet and the graceful Red-Saddled Yokohama. Look out also for the Red Silkies – they’ve been a popular breed since the 13th century and they have five toes on each foot. And, if you spot what looks like a ball of fluff on legs, you’ll have found our Golden Partridge Pekins. They have really cheeky characters and the antics of the younger ones should provide you with much amusement.
Guinea pigs originated in the Andes – they do not come from Guinea and they are not pigs! They were introduced into Europe by traders in the 16th century and have become very popular as household pets.
There are three major varieties of guinea pig – the short smooth-coated English American or Bolivian, the harsh-coated rosetted Abyssinian and the long-haired, silky Peruvian.
Some live in the wild in South America and are very social animals who live in large groups in grassy areas. They like to hide in rocks and burrows as they are often prey for larger meat-eating enemies.
They weigh, on average, 1 kilogram and have a life span of 4 to 7 years. They have a whole range of high-pitched squeaks, chatterings, chirrups and grunts and are sure to raise many a smile when they take up residence in the petting area of the farm.
Rabbits are not native to Britain but were brought over by the Romans as a source of food and fur.
They have two sets of incisor teeth, which distinguishes them from rodents.
Their breeding season lasts 9 months from February to October and the normal gestation period is 30 days.
Saanen Goats are a white or cream-colored breed of goat named for the Saanen valley in Switzerland. They are the largest of the goat dairy breeds. The Saanen also produces the most milk on average, and tends to have a lower butterfat content, about 2.5%-3.0%.
A Saanen nanny produces around an average of 1 gallon a day. Just as Alpines, they are commonly used for commercial milking. The Saanen temperament is, as a rule, calm and mild mannered. Saanen goats are easier for children to handle, and are popular in the showmanship classes due to their calm nature. They typically breed every year, producing one or two kids.
Ferrets were first domesticated by the Egyptians over two thousand years ago and are believed to have been introduced into Europe by the Crusaders from the 10th to the 12th centuries.
They are strong, lively and inquisitive animals with soft and glossy fur which can be in a variety of colours including brown, white, black and mixed.
They are becoming increasingly popular as pets and are easy to look after.
Kune Kune pigs are thought to have been introduced into New Zealand in the early 19th century, hence their Maori name. It’s pronounced cooney cooney and means fat and round!
They have hairy coats in a range of colours such as black and white, brown, cream or tan.
In the 1970s, the Kune Kune pig almost became extinct, but thanks initially to the work and dedication of two wildlife park owners, the species survived. In 1992, a few were imported into Britain and now the breed is no longer a threatened species.
They are delightful animals with a friendly and placid nature. They like human company and have become very popular as pets. They are very easy to train and some people even keep them indoors.
When you meet Dennis and Gnasher, Murton Farm’s own Kune Kune pigs we’re sure that you, too, will just adore these endearing animals.
Ernie and Floppy are brothers and have always lived together; they came to Murton in November 2012. They love chasing each other around their field and meeting all our visitors.
We are very grateful to Arlene and Remo Medinelli for their generous and substantial donation towards the purchase of Ernie & Floppy, without which we would have been unable to secure these amazing animals.
Donkeys in the UK are mostly a grey dun colour, however some can be brown or black. Donkeys, like horses are measured in hands and can stand between 10 and 14 hands high. They are normally friendly and inquisitive animals.