Farms and wildlife centres to visit in the UK
Get your cute fix and learn about animals on these family days out
What noise does a pig make? Or a duck? Both questions kids will be quick to answer, thanks in part to a very popular nursery rhyme. There's lots of fun to be had on the farm and open farms and wildlife centres are a great chance for kids to get up close with farmyard animals and learn more about our livestock. There are also a few exotic animals to encounter along the way; come on Old MacDonald, what noise does a llama make?
Acorn Farm, Merseyside
Not many farms can boast they have meerkats in residence. Acorn Farm is also home to sheep, cows, goats, pigs, horses, chickens and small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs, many of which you can feed or stroke. It's a working farm so come Spring there are lots of baby animals to see. During weekends and school holidays they run small animal petting sessions and horse rides. Other facilities include two outdoor play areas, a woodland walk, plant sales centre and farm shop.
Almond Valley Heritage Centre, West Lothian
The byres at Almond Valley are home to a range of farm animals including horses, ponies, donkeys, cattle, sheep, assorted pigs and cheeky goats. A host of pets and poultry are introduced at regular handling sessions, so you can hold a chick or pet a rabbit. You can also watch or help out with some farm chores, such as grooming horses or milking cows. Outdoors, there are trampolines, pedal carts and tractor rides, and if it rains you can nip inside for soft play, interactive displays and activities in the museum.
Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre, Perthshire
A family-run business with over 50 species of animal to meet. Exotic wildlife at Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre includes birds of paradise, porcupines, bearded dragons and otters. The farmyard section is home to sheep, horses, goats, Highland cattle and chickens. Learn more about the animals at regular talks and feeding sessions or visit the Hatchery to handle the chicks, rabbits, guinea pigs and tortoises. Other activities include mini golf, an indoor play barn, a play park, tractor circuit and pony rides.
Bowland Wild Boar Park, Preston
As well as the wild boars from which Bowland Wild Boar park gets its name you can also see deer, llamas, longhorn cows, goats and smaller animals such as raccoons, skunks and chickens, many of which you can hand feed. The park is made up of 30 acres of woodland area, with plenty of walks where you can spot birds, flowers and wildlife. If you don't fancy a walk you can take a tractor and trailer ride.
Cannon Hall Farm, South Yorkshire
One of the largest farm attractions in the UK, Cannon Hall Farm is a chance to see the day-to-day workings of a modern farmyard. Attractions include a milking parlour with regular milking demonstrations, and a Rare Breeds barn. The farm is home to sheep, pigs, goats, llamas, Shetland ponies and two reindeer, Dancer and Prancer. With 800 lambs arriving each spring, chances are high you might see one being born. During the holidays there are tractor and trailer rides and small animal petting. There are also outdoor adventure playgrounds and a Hungry Llama indoor play area.
Mead Open Farm, Bedfordshire
Mead Open Farm spans 30 acres and was one of the first Open Farms in Bedfordshire. There are plenty of opportunities to get to know the animals with a daily schedule of activities taking place in the four animals barns. You can feed lambs, pet bunnies, groom ponies, chat about chickens and visit newborns: there are baby alpacas, calves and lambs in February, and pygmy goats in October. Indoors, there is Shaggy's PlayWorld and Mini Moo's Imagination Village. Outdoors, you'll find an adventure playground, climbing wall, sky trail, high ropes courses, go-karts and crazy golf.
Odds Farm, Buckinghamshire
Winner of Farm Attraction of The Year 2017, Odds Farm has a number of animal-based activities happening each day. These vary season to season but include bottle-feeding kid goats, cow milking, egg collecting and sheep shearing. Livestock at the farm includes goats, pigs, cows, sheep, ponies, donkeys, chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs. Visit the Animal Contact Barn to meet the newest and smallest members of the farm. Indoors, there is a large indoor playbarn with a four-lane slide and special areas for toddlers and under 5s.