A new beginning for lambing at Calke Abbey
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Lambing at Calke will be different in 2014 as we will no longer have the lambing tent in the park.
Last year we decided to sell the main flock of sheep as a result of changing priorities in our work. We could no longer justify keeping a flock of 300 sheep and they have now all been sold on to a reputable farmer.
Why have the sheep been sold?
As a charity, our core purpose is to preserve special places forever, for everyone. The highest priorities for our work are conservation and providing wonderful experiences for our visitors. Over recent years, it has become clear that the commitment for our ranger team to manage a large sheep flock limits the time available for higher-priority work. We decided to reduce the flock size by selling the “commercial” flock, which were originally established to undertake grazing management of Calke Park.
Will there still be sheep at Calke?
Yes. A smaller flock of around 50 Portland sheep will still graze here. Portland sheep are a rare breed; they have been at Calke since the mid-18th century and are a significant part of our heritage.
How will you manage the grassland in Calke Park with fewer sheep?
As we already do across the majority of the Calke Estate, we will let out the grazing management of the Park to a local farmer. We believe this is the best solution as it means that livestock and grazing management is maintained to a high standard, allowing our ranger team to concentrate on other priorities.
Will there be a lambing event?
There will still be a lambing event but it will be on a smaller scale than in previous years. The main event will take place over two weekends (29–30 March and 5–6 April) in the Large Kitchen Garden and at Home Farm, which is not usually accessible to the public.
At Home Farm, ewes will be lambed in the tractor shed and you will get to learn more about the importance of our Portland flock. You’ll then be able to pop next door into the Large Kitchen Garden to see the mums and their lambs frolicking around. During the week, Home Farm will not be accessible but you will be able to see the lambs in the Large Kitchen Garden. Schools will be able to come and visit during the week of 31 March with prior booking through our Community and Engagement team.
What ticket will I need to see the lambs?
You’ll need to purchase park admission and then go to the Ticket Office to purchase a garden ticket. National Trust members are free.
We thank you for understanding the necessity for this change and hope that you have a great time visiting our special Portland lambs and enjoy seeing a different part of Calke.