Conservation

Farming sustainably

Changing farming methods and a much more intensive approach to food production during the last century, were responsible for the United Kingdom losing 26 of its native breeds. Many of these native breeds were considered uneconomically for the mass production of food, however the Rare Breed Survival Trust recognised that they had many other important attributes such as adaptation to the local environment and their genetic diversity, in addition to being part of our national heritage. The RBST, formed in 1973, set out to help conserve and safeguard Britain’s remaining native breeds from extinction.

Amongst our large livestock – cattle, sheep, goats and pigs – and our poultry, we have many rare breeds and some that are now off the endangered list. Regarding meat production, some rare and native breeds may not suit today’s mass market but they make up for it in flavour, succulence and eating quality.  All our meat goes to supply our cafés and is very popular with our visitors who can learn more about its production by following our Farm to Fork Trail on the farm. We also produce eggs from our free-range chickens.

Breeding

Farm animals

We breed rare breed farm animals to conserve the native breeds and for our own meat production. Indeed, eating rare breed meat is actually a great way to support a breed. When breeding our livestock, there are always male young that will not be used in the on-going breeding programme. These animals are reared for their meat which, as it increases in popularity, will ensure the survival of the breed.

Rare breeds are more tolerant to disease compared to commercial breeds. With improved genetic diversity brought about by conserving rare breeds, we can introduce the desirable qualities of the rare to the commercial breeds by cross-breeding.

Pets

Our pets are all housed in large naturalistic environments and habitats. Our Pets Corner display includes species from barn owls to harvest mice and corn snakes to frogs. Our aim is to showcase how to keep their pets healthy, happy and properly cared for, whether their pets are exotic or domestic. We provide enriching environments for our pet species and teach our visitors about correct handling and health care as well.

We will be breeding some of the more endangered species to allow us to support other zoos and wildlife parks in the breeding of captive populations which will involve working alongside national and international breeding programmes to increase numbers. Such species include the Greater Hedgehog Tenrec, the Poison Dark Frog, Axolotl and Chinchilla.

Visit our Pets Corner where you will be able to learn all about our work and engage, interact and get up close and personal to our animals in the scheduled encounters and talks.

Wildlife

The Purpose of the Wildlife Zone is to support the protection and conservation of British and European wildlife through education and experiences that will teach visitors about their habitats and behaviours, and how we can protect their native environments.

Three acres of the Farm will be given over to extra-large enclosures rarely seen in zoos or wildlife parks, where our responsibly-sourced animals will be housed in naturalistic environments where they are able to perform their natural behaviours.

We adhere to the Five Freedoms criteria as covered in the Animal Welfare Act. Our conservation emphasis will focus on animal rescue and rehabilitation, captive breeding for release, and translocation (moving animals to environments that suit their natural behaviours).

Conservation grazing

Our aim is to be greatly involved in the care and conservation of the countryside and the natural world, bringing together rare breed conservation and farming for wildlife in a way that both can benefit. Our conservation grazing programme means our farm animals are to meet their needs whilst allowing the natural wildlife on site to thrive and their natural habitat to be maintained and biodiversity increased.

Once the Wildlife Zone is up and running, our deer will also be included in our Conservation Grazing Programme. Indeed, the grazing habits of large herbivores maintained the balance of wild plants and animals in the environment long before the introduction of domestic livestock and modern farming techniques.

Visit our animals

Visitors can help Green Dragon’s work in animal conservation & educational, as income from admission goes towards the upkeep and well-being of the animal residents. For more details on how to visit, please go to Your Visit.