Tatton Park Farm’s Animal Adoption Day saw staff and volunteers out in force, giving visitors a rare opportunity to get up close to some of their stunning specimens.
This time round, the animals available for adoption were Sensation, an 18.3 hand Shire horse; Emily, a rare golden Guernsey goat; and Martha, a spectacular middle white pig.
Farm volunteer, Dave Thomas, has a love of heavy horses going back to the 1950s, to when he would feed those belonging to the local scrap iron merchant near his inner-city Manchester childhood home.
Dave said: “Sensation is a lovely girl, and she was bred right here at Tatton.
“Her mother was a Clydesdale and her father was a Shire, and at 18.3 hands and not yet fully grown, she’s going to be a whopper.
“Heavy horses were used to power all aspects of the farming process, not just the ploughing. Of course, that ended when the tractor came along.
“A man and a horse could plough approximately one acre per day, where as a man on a tractor, even before the war, could do something like 25 acres.
“That’s why adoptions schemes like this one are important. Tatton achieved Rare Breed Trust Survival Trust accredited status in 2017, so anyone who adopts one of the animals is not just contributing to that animal’s well-being.
“They are helping so ensure the future of some of these lovely old breeds that may no longer be commercial.
“But that doesn’t make them any less special.”
Though Sensation is too powerful to be allowed out of her stable when the farm is busy, golden Guernsey goat Emily, who adores human attention, and curious middle white pig Martha were out of the pens over the weekend, giving visitors a chance to get to know them better.
Animal keeper Hannah explained the precarious history of the Gurnsey goat breed.
Hannah said: “When Guernsey was invaded during the Second World War, there were terrible food shortages and nearly all the golden goats were slaughtered for meat.
“They were saved from extinction by one Guernsey woman, called Mary, who set up a breeding programme when the war was over. All the golden goats we have now originated as part of that programme.
“They are a relatively low yield milker, but what you do get is incredibly creamy. A bit like gold top, only goatier.
“And they really hate the rain!”
Anyone who missed Adoption Weekend, but would still like to consider adopting Sensation, Emily or Martha, should contact Tatton Park Farm.
Adopters will receive a gift package for £35, which includes an official adoption certificate, two tickets to attend a special adopters’ event, a cuddly animal toy, factsheet, sticker and photocard plus seasonal e-newsletters throughout the year.