Verm-X, supporters of Stepney City Farm are delighted to update you on the farm's progress as they leave winter behind and look forward to the joys of spring. Based in the heart of Stepney, in London's East End, the farm provides a severely deprived community with an opportunity to experience rural life and interact with animals.
While the winter has not been as harsh as last year, the farm has had issues due to an unusable barn and other confined space due to the building works of a railway network company. This has had a major impact on the amount of space for the cattle, and also detrimental effects on the fields. There has been effect on visitor numbers as the farm looks like a building site many people have assumed it is shut.
In preparation for spring staff and volunteers at the farm complete health checks, disinfect the animal housing and ensure the animals are in tip top condition before egg incubation and lambing / kidding. This year the focus will also be on donkey training and chicken enrichment.
Said Lynda McCullagh, Stepney's Communications Volunteer: "We are working with local schools on an 'Incubator Project' which enables classes to hatch eggs to bring a little of the farm to the classroom. We provide a starter session along with an incubator and a week's care package for after hatching, finishing with a handling session. To get the eggs for the programme, the chickens are given special treats and separated into breeding groups so we can collect the eggs.
"It is always an exciting time awaiting the arrival of kids and lambs in February and March, the male sheep and goats are separated from the females, who are given extra food and mineral supplements. We are also planning for the pasture restorations and have done lots of tree planting in the pig fields over winter. We will be buying in some piglets in spring, some to keep as breeding sows and some to finish, so some work will be done on their field to make it piglet proof, but the green manure is growing nicely.
"All of the animals are doing well on Verm-X, especially the chickens. The initial change we noticed was that egg production increased. Overall the poultry have done well over the winter, although a bit bemused by the snow in February! Our ex-battery hens have really come on well and are looking great after a winter moult. Shiny feathers and happy hens is a great way to be ready for spring."