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Add Sustainability to your curriculum

October 31st, 2015

Old Macdonald’s Farm is very proud at having won in the past a Visit England Award for Sustainable Tourism, and for 2016 will be promoting this vital topic in all educational visits. You will be aware that we are members of BIAZA (British and Irish Association for Zoos and Aquariums) and were participants in the preparation of the acclaimed Sustainability Guidelines for Zoos prepared by that body. A fundamental part of those policies is Education and that is why in 2016 will make this part of your school or group visit.


With this forthcoming winter likely to be warm and wet this will be a subject close to people’s minds, and children are certainly aware and eager to learn. Whether this strange weather is part of a long term pattern of climate change or unusual circumstances, there is no recognised scientific authority who can dispute that activities by human kind is having a detrimental impact on the environment and we would love to talk through what we are doing to counter this in our actions, and what you can do too.


If we can help you, whether or not you are visiting the farm, just ring us on 01277 375177 and discuss with our keen and eager management team sustainability, climate change and the environment. We would love to help.

Old Macdonald Wins Educational Award

February 21st, 2015

Everyone who knows Old Macdonald realises what a modest man he is, and indeed many people say that is because he has a lot to be modest about, but sometimes he likes to blow his own trumpet and this is one of those occasions.



He is thrilled to tell you both that his farm has just won the prestigious 2015 National Farm Attractions Award for education for our work with local schools, and in particular thanks to the superb efforts of his terrific team of volunteers who add so much to this place! In particular the award was for our day with Janet Duke Primary School and their Eco Captains who work through the year looking after the school’s menagerie and whose reward was to come down here for a day and work even harder with our pigs, meerkats, goats, sheep etc!

We love to welcome schools and so urge them to get in touch and find out about the value for money educational experience they can get here in Brentwood!

The Rats is innocent – OK

February 20th, 2015


Old Macdonald is feeling a little smug today (well actually he does every day) because back in August 2011 he published this little post arguing the innocence of rats who have been blamed for centuries for the Great Plague and Black Death. Now today, in February 2015, scientists think that is was not rats but those lovely cuddly Gerbils that you can buy in the pet shop!


However if you have a Gerbil, do not panic, because the actual fleas that carried the disease are long dead so little Giggles the Gerbil is perfectly safe, but Old Macdonald says come on now, apologise to Roland Rat and his pals! Now read on and see what we said almost 4 years ago! No need to watch the TV news, just look at our website!





After hundreds of years of blame it has now been established that the Great Plague and Black Death that spread through Britain in the 14th and 17th Centuries were not spread by rats, as has been claimed for ever and a day, but by people instead! Old Macdonald learned at school, when he turned up, that the disease was carried by fleas on the backs of rats, but now scientists say it wasn’t but was instead spread by people!

So we all owe a big apology to the rats, who may well put in a group claim for compensation for libel, slander and just plain nastiness, but have to say that rats are not clean animals and must be controlled, but they are not mass murderers.

However what it does prove is how important it is for all of us to stay safe and clean all through our lives, handwashing is not just important for children at the farm but all the time, and how we should take care when we have colds or flu not to give them to others! People spread diseases to other people, not animals to people! You know it makes sense.

It also proves that whilst everyone would be correct, once they have touched an animal, to take proper hygiene treatment and clean their hands thoroughly no animal is toxic and radio active and we must not get a phobia about them…not even the rats!

So sorry for the blame rats, no hard feelings eh, but do not think you will be joining our cuddly collection of creatures for quite a while yet!

Happy New Year to you all

December 29th, 2014

Old Macdonald, his staff and of course your farmyard friends all want to wish you a very happy new year for 2015 and we look forward to seeing you in February.


2015 is the Chinese Year of the Sheep but don’t tell the goats as they will be jealous! See you all soon.

Is there Palm Oil in your Christmas Pud?

December 12th, 2014

Old Macdonald is joining with his friends in other Zoos to encourage Shoppers to read the label when buying their Christmas pudding this year in a bid to save species, like the orangutan, from extinction.

From tomorrow (December 13), new labelling laws will mean food products must state the source of any oil or fat ingredient including palm oil, the production of which had led to the destruction of habitats of orangutans and many other endangered species.

palm oil.jpeg

In light of these changes, the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) is working with The Jane Goodall Institute, The Orangutan Foundation and its 108 members to raise awareness of the importance of carefully considering ingredients in a product before purchase.

Nicky Needham, Programmes and Policy Coordinator at BIAZA, said: “It is great to see the UK Food Information Regulations 2014 come into force as this will help the public make more informed choices on what they buy. This is a really positive step in the right direction, but we still need clearer information on the options of using sustainably-sourced palm oil.”

Orangutan numbers are declining rapidly with fewer than 54, 000 of the Bornean orang-utan and fewer than 7,300 Sumatran orangutans left in the wild. The UN declared the plight of these animals a conservation emergency and understanding the debate is a first step to addressing it.

Shoppers now need to decide whether to boycott food products with palm oil completely or choose products only containing certified sustainable palm oil.

By boycotting completely we risk shifting oil consumption to less productive oils such as soya which would use seven times more land space per tonne; however with sustainable palm oil there are doubts over robustness and full traceability. Credible certification is essential and it would be a significant achievement if the UK can ensure that only 100% sustainable palm oil is imported by 2015.

To help shoppers over the Christmas period, BIAZA scoured the web for the best and most sustainable Christmas puddings and came up with our Top 5. We have included the most highly rated puddings, while looking at the procurement guidelines for each store. All these puddings contain palm oil; however Co-op, Waitrose and M&S are leading the way for supermarkets in terms of sustainability.

BIAZA’s Top Five Christmas Puddings

1. The Co-operative Truly Irresistible
2. Heston from Waitrose Hidden Clementine
3. Duchy Originals Organic Christmas Pudding from Waitrose
4. Waitrose Richly Fruited Christmas Pudding
5. M&S Cranberry and Clementine The Christmas Pudding

BIAZA’s Palm Oil subgroup has also produced palm oil procurement guidelines and its member zoos and aquariums are reviewing their policies to see how we can be more sustainable. As well as raising awareness amongst visitors, some have even produced new palm oil free recipes for their own Christmas puddings.

For more information visit

To find out more about the new labelling laws visit:

Also, Old Macdonald wants shoppers to know that if they want to buy him a present he is not too proud to accept it! Well, he can only ask.