Ahead of Open Farm Sunday this weekend comes the surprising news that the world of livestock is a dead duck to loads of children.
Hearing a real cow ‘moo’ or a sheep ‘baa’ for the first time is a special moment for any youngster but a new survey of primary school children has revealed that this experience is becoming increasingly rare.
The results show that more than one in three children have never heard a sheep ‘baa’ (37 per cent) or ‘moo’ (34%) up close, with thousands only experiencing it through their TV or computer screens.
The survey – released ahead of this weekend’s Open Farm Sunday when Muddy Boots at Balmalcolm and Kilmaron Farm are opening their gates – revealed the disconnect many children have with farming and where their food comes from.
Across the country, hundreds of farms will be opening their gates to visitors of all ages so that they can see farming at first hand and learn a little more about the basics.
And it does seem some of those ‘basics’ are lacking.
One in four children (24 per cent) surveyed did not know a baby cow was called a calf, with similar numbers unaware a baby sheep was a lamb (23 per cent), a baby chicken was a chick (26 per cent) and a baby pig a piglet (22 per cent).
Four in 10 (37 per cent) children did not know that herd is the name for a group of cows and half (47 per cent) didn’t know that flock is the collective noun for sheep.
Only one in six (16 per cent) knew that numerous chickens together were known as a brood.
The survey also showed that many school children did not know how many of our staple foods were produced or how fruit and vegetables were grown.
One in three (33 per cent) children did not know that pork comes from pigs, and one in five (18 per cent) did not know that they are also the source of bacon.
One in 20 children (5 per cent) even thinks we get cheese from pigs, while one in 25 (4 per cent) think potatoes come from pigs.
Meanwhile, one in 20 (5 per cent) children think that strawberries grow in the fridge, while 6 per cent think they grow on trees.
Three in ten children (28 per cent) did not know carrots grow underground, with one in 10 children (9 per cent) believing they grow on a bush.
Six in 10 children did not know lettuce grew on the ground, while nearly eight in ten (78 per cent) did not know broccoli grew on a plant.
Even their parents couldn’t help.
A third of mums and dads (32 per cent) surveyed at the same time didn’t know that herd was the name for a group of cows, while four in 10 (40 per cent) didn’t know that flock was the collective noun for sheep.
The survey was commissioned by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) which has run Open Farm Sunday for the past decade and also organises Open Farm School Days throughout June.
Annabel Shackleton, LEAF’s Open Farm Sunday manager said: “Over the past decade more than a million people, including families, have visited an Open Farm Sunday event but the results show that there is still a disconnect with farming for today’s youngsters– as well as for many parents too.
“We must all work together to ensure that this does not become an increasing trend and so we’re calling on all families to head to their participating farm for Open Farm Sunday to experience all the sights and sounds of a farm for themselves.”