Run by Countryfile star Adam Henson, the Cotswold farm park is excellent. We were invited for the lambing event but there is so much more to do.
Ever wondered what a sheep maternity ward would look like? Well, the animal barn at the Cotswold farm park will give you a really good idea. Hundreds of pregnant ewes about to give birth are in the animal barn. There are about 800 expected to be born over the next few weeks, making it one of the largest lambing events in the country!!!! The proud mamas who have already given birth are at the front with their little lambs in small cubicles (aka nursery pens) so they can bond with each other. The names and date of births of the newborns are on display on the board. There is double fence preventing you from getting close due to their strict health and safety regulations! You are welcome to watch and admire them but can not touch or cuddle them yet, as there is a risk of zoonosis until 21 days I was told.
They will be ready to bottle feed only after Easter, so if that is what you are after, then wait until then; if you want to be in chance of witnessing live lamb birth, then now is the time. The staff was so friendly and explained the process of sheep birth in detail, which is more aimed at older kids and parents. We heard that the sheep start making a nest when they are about to go into labour and they deliver very quietly so as to not to attract predators , so it is unlikely to be squeamish. Sadly, none was showing signs of imminent labour when we were there today but you may be the chosen ones! There was an advisory sign at entrance that pregnant women should not go inside the lambing barn due to risk of infections (e.g. toxoplasmosis) which can be transmitted through direct contact with the birthing fluids from ewes, so it is worth bearing in mind if you are pregnant.
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We have been to the Cotswold Farm park for the Enchanted trail over Christmas (review HERE), but this was the first time we saw the farm in daylight. I feel it is always cold here than where we live and I learnt today the Farm Park is 1,000 feet above sea level, so that may be it (or I am just hallucinating!).
Another highlight for us today was feeding the highland cows! Now that’s definitely a first and the setup was genius. There was a platform with small water play type table going down on to the feeding space for the cows. They would come over when they saw people on the walkway and move away when you did. The cows are also expecting with four calves expected in summer! The highland cows were surrounded by soya sheep, who would ram into each other once in a while. Ay mistook them for baby cows due to their horns. A staff overheard him and told him the facts, much to his amazement. We were told that the male soya sheep fight often and can get aggressive with each other.
You can buy food for the animals (1.5£/ bag) at the reception. The Rare Breeds Trail takes you on a circuit of the paddocks so that you can meet a whole host of characterful animals, learning all about the breeds as you go. From frolicking young lambs to the gentle giants, the Suffolk Punch horses, you’ll see them all. There are upgrades going on to the main animal walkway, including accessible pathway, improved animal feeding shelters and sensory garden. These areas are temporarily unavailable but hope to be open soon. You can still feed the goats and sheep in the area.
There is also a small woodland walk with a muddy kitchen. Kitchen appliances and tools provided!
There are many outdoor play areas scattered around the farm. It is actually a “sand heaven” with two big sand pits (with equipment) and another smaller one, in addition to the fourth one indoors. There were lots of play toys in all of them, which I hope stays. There is also a pretty good gravel play setup, two huge bouncy pillow, role-play combined harvester, slides, Zipwire and a variety outdoor frames as well as a small woodland trail and ride on real tractors.
There is seating and picnic benches around most of these areas. They also have a small shed in the middle where you can grab a coffee and an ice cream from Dolly’s (but this was closed today)
I also really liked that there was a good mixture of indoor and outdoor play areas at the Cotswold farm park, so you can make it a day in any type of weather. There are two covered animal barns. One is occupied by the ewes at present but this changes for seasonal events throughout the year. The discovery barn has smaller animals who you can touch and pat. There are big fluffy bunnies, lovely guinea pigs, a gigantic Pig with newborn piglets, lambs and goat kids. The team is on hand to give talks and answer any of your questions.
In between the two animals barns is the adventure barn, which has a huge indoor sandpit with a nice lookout tower and equipment, traversing wall, a small toddler focussed soft play and electric ride on tractors. There is a small cafe which sells lovely hot chocolate, a great way to warm up while your kids play. Outside the main barn is another area with pedal tractors and a couple of model cows to milk.
There is also a wildlife walk which we did not do today but must be amazing in summers. It gives you chance to see rare wildlife and stunning seasonal flowers on the 2 mile trail around the wider farmland, complete with information posts to help you learn more about the past, present and future of this beautiful part of the world. There’s a 1 mile shortcut if you fancy a shorter stroll too. You’ll circle around back to the Ox Shed, so you can always treat yourself to a coffee and a bite to eat at the end.
There’s even a campsite if you wish to stay for a few nights.
I hear they also do a Tractor farm safari during summer.
We were invited for this visit, so I did not have to pay but the review is entirely my own without any input from their team. Overall, the price of the tickets is on average 2-3 £ more expensive per person than other farm parks, though it offers more or less the same stuff, apart from the highland cows and indoor sand pit, which stood out for us. You are not separately charged for the electric tractors, which are usually coin operated at other places, so perhaps that makes it more comparable. However, the live lambing is an experience on its own and with so many ewes expecting to give birth, you have a higher chance of witnessing a nature’s miracle than other places.
Other farm parks in and around Oxfordshire can be found HERE
Cotswold Farm Park, Guiting Power, Cheltenham GL54 5F
Entry fee applies. Book in advance to save £3.00; Adults: £11.50, child 4-16 £10.95, 2-3 years old 6.95£
You can book tickets and check updated prices HERE
Free parking on site
Toilets and baby facilities on site
Mostly Buggy accessible but some terrain could be muddy and bumpy due to gravel.
Only assistance dogs allowed on site, due to the close contact with the farm animals