Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Happy Halloween

We’ve had lots of fun with the animals this Halloween, giving out tasty pumpkin treats (no tricks here, just treats!) and having a go at bobbing for apples - Penny the goat had the best technique and managed to work out how to get them, much to the disapproval of the others!

Penny & Jim enjoying their pumpkin
Penny & Jim demolishing their pumpkin!

Many of the apples that we are currently using have been very kindly donated by people with apple trees in their gardens. As the majority of our animals can eat apples, these are very much appreciated by us all. Thank you!

Henry the Rooster bobbing for apples!
Henry the Rooster bobbing for apples!

Halloween usually marks the end of our open year, as we traditionally close at the end of October until the following Spring. However, after lots of requests from our wonderful supporters, we have decided to stay open at weekends until Christmas. We will have slightly revised opening hours of:

10am to 4pm (with last entry at 3pm)

Winter can be the toughest time for us and our animals, so it is at this time of year that we need your support more than ever!

Thank you, and we hope to see you soon.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Are YOUR rabbits eating enough hay?

It's Rabbit Awareness Week and this year the emphasis is on HAY. According to a survey carried out last year by the PDSA, it is thought that around 70% of rabbit owners aren't feeding them enough hay. It is sadly a little known fact that your rabbit's diet should consist of 85-90% good quality eating hay. It's not something that just needs to be fed along with pellets; in fact these should make up a very small percentage of your rabbit's diet, with the hay and grasses making up the bulk of the diet. Types of hay that are recommended include; Timothy Hay, Grass Hay and Meadow Hay.

Here at Brockswood, we follow a Rabbit Diet Pyramid:

Brockswood Rabbit Diet Pyramid

As you can see this is made up mostly of hay and grasses; followed by leafy greens, herbs and other plants; a small amount of pellets, and an even smaller amount of treats – after all, the biggest treat you can give your rabbit is a healthy, balanced diet!

Your rabbits need 85 – 90% of feeding hay & fresh grass, that’s equal to their body size every day!

Please remember to throw away any old, damp or soiled hay!

✔ High in fibre, promotes digestive health - rabbits have a very complex digestive system, and it is important that this is kept in tip top condition.
✔ Stimulates chewing, good for dental health - hay helps to grind their teeth while they're chewing it. As their teeth never stop growing, they need to hay to ensure that they are kept trimmed down, so they do not overgrow and cause issues later on!
✔ Encourages bunnies to forage for emotional health - keeping your rabbit's mind active is very important and helps to stop them from becoming bored and depressed.

Why not make it fun for your rabbit and present it to them in different ways? Hay racks for rabbits are available from most good pet shops, and even small hay nets like we use for our larger field animals! We like to fill up boxes with good quality eating hay, various grasses grown on site, herbs and other edible plants such as dandelion leaves - and occasionally we'll hide a couple of treats at the bottom, encouraging them to forage!

We use recycled fruit crates in our rabbit runs - we simply clean them up, paint them with a pet safe waterproof paint, wait for them to dry, and then fill them up with goodies!

By talking to our friends, family and other rabbit owners and letting them know the importance of hay in a rabbit’s diet we can all play a part in encouraging responsible ownership and helping to better the lives of more rabbits.

Are your rabbits getting enough hay?

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Fire sets back Brockswood education project!

First of all... Why an Anglo-Saxon village at an animal sanctuary? At Brockswood, our mission is not only to care for animals in need, but to educate too. While our work sees us teaching about animal care, wildlife conservation, beekeeping etc; we are also aware of the importance of other subject areas, and one very dear to our hearts is local history.

Many of you will know of the different incarnations of 'Cotwall End', but what if you looked back not 20 or 30 years, but well over a thousand years! To the Age of Penda when this land in the kingdom of Mercia (the Midlands) was a settlement for our Saxon ancestors.

With Generfeld - literally "Sanctuary Field", we hoped to give you a snapshot in time; showing you how some of these fascinating people lived and worked. The Age of Penda group are all volunteers – they do this in-between their day jobs. Penda is a fantastic opportunity for like-minded people to learn new crafts and skills, discover some of our history, and build new friendships. They have also recently joined forces with one of Dudley College’s Foundation Land Based Learning groups, enabling local students to have a hand in this unique venture.

To say that a lot of time and work has gone into this would be an understatement. It has been years in the making, and was really starting to take shape. We were so excited to show you what we had achieved together!

Instead we have to tell you about the fire-fighters called out on Saturday night, and several buildings torched by thoughtless intruders.

Photo by Dudley Fire Station

Thankfully we had very recently moved our group of senior sheep that had been grazing in this paddock, and we can assure you that all our animals are completely unharmed. We just wish that we could say the same for Generfeld.

This comes after the group had items stolen last year, including a blacksmith’s anvil, and previous intentional damage.

This is sadly the sort of thing that we are having to fight, alongside trying to restore and improve the site, and caring for the animals. The last few months have seen old pipes falling apart, causing flooding in paddocks and costing both countless hours of our time and funds spent that we had earmarked for rebuilding enclosures (more about this HERE).

The buildings that were burned have taken months of hard work to complete, and has left us feeling more than a little deflated after so much effort. Built in the Saxon style, complete with turfed roof (which our sheep were quite fond of playing on and mowing). The items inside have also been destroyed, including various pieces of replica historical items, and tools.

 When we took over this site, we knew that we had our work cut out for us.  
We knew that this would be continuous hard work and a real labour of love.  
We knew that it would mean long hours, long weeks, and little sleep; sometimes leaving us aching, stressed, and very tired. 
We knew that this would never make us rich in anything but the knowledge that we are doing something GOOD.  
What we didn’t bank on, was the people that would stand in our way.
These are setbacks not only to Brockswood, but a huge dent in the morale of those working so hard here. The unseen hours spent every day, trying to not only provide the best care for these animals, but to make our and your vision of Brockswood become real.

We have said for many years that we are trying to restore the site to its “former glory”. We want MORE than this. We want it to become even better than that. We want you to be proud of this little Oasis in the Black Country. We want to make a big impact for not only our animals and the many more that need us, but our local community (and others beyond!)

We can’t do this without help, and we most definitely cannot achieve this if we are persistently knocked back down whenever we pick ourselves up.

We’d like to say a big thank you to the locals who have inquired after the safety of us and our animals after seeing the smoke and fire engine – and a very big thank you to the fast response of the Fire Service, who do such a wonderful job! Thank you to all who have offered support, and to those who have supported us from the very beginning. We need you!

How You Can Help...

  • If you think that you could help us in any way, please get in touch! We need timber and other building materials.
  • We will also need to replace the tools that were destroyed. We need old fashioned wooden handled tools for building.
  • If you have an interest in history, or good with DIY and would like to help, please don't hesitate to get in touch. Email:
  • If you have any other ideas for ways to help us, we would love to hear from you! Email:

Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Plight of the Rooster!

As it's the Chinese Year of the Rooster, now is a great time to talk about their plight!

Chicken keeping has gained a lot of popularity in recent years and many people are buying Roosters or casually hatching eggs without a lot of thought about their care. Roosters can make wonderful, intelligent and inquisitive pets; we have a handful of very friendly chaps here, living harmoniously with their Hens and enjoying attention from us - we also have the all too common flip side, the highly territorial, aggressive boys that nobody wants to keep. They attack our Keepers and other Chickens, and obviously made such bad pets that they were abandoned on a nature reserve adjacent to the sanctuary.

We rescued 'Dec' after hearing a Rooster crowing near our overflow car park. Thankfully he and his friend. 'Ant' were both caught and taken to safety at the Sanctuary - and are the grumpiest Chickens we've ever met! We have so many bruises from well aimed pecks and kicks as we enter their aviary! Soon after another young Cockerel, 'Ace' joined us too, after being thrown over the fence!

On the other hand, here is one of our friendly Bantam Roosters enjoying some fuss from visiting kids! This little chap was left in a box on our car park.
Roosters can be noisy, calling loudly at the crack of dawn and annoying neighbours who aren't as keen on your pets as you (a big thank you to OUR neighbours who must hear ours calling throughout all hours of the day!). They can be aggressive and often cannot be kept with other males, being highly territorial towards their Hens. There is of course the obvious fact that they also cannot lay eggs!

Hatching chicks in schools has also become quite popular, with no thought as to what will happen if those eggs turn out to contain a male, and what will happen to them as they grow up.

We are contacted almost daily by people wanting to find a home for their unwanted Roosters and we are hearing of more and more cases of them being simply dumped, or even killed!

Our gorgeous 'Cedric', one of our more placid boys, was found abandoned; wandering about in the road!

Cedric enjoying a dust bath with his girlfriend, Helen (who was also chucked over our fence!) - this loving couple are absolutely inseparable.
Jack and Dave were left on our car park last year, and we've even had several hurled over the fence. Thankfully we got to them before the local foxes, but we can't always guarantee we'll be that lucky.

We wish that we could save them all, but we're sadly now at full capacity and simply do not have space for any more. Please, please THINK before you take on a pet or hatch an egg. A chicken is for life, Rooster or Hen!

If, however, you could take in a Rooster and offer him a happy forever home, please get in touch. We are hoping to create a list of people that we can contact and try to place some of these misunderstood birds and save them from a worse fate. We are proud to give our animals a forever home at Brockswood; but when there is no more space it doesn't hurt to have a backup should future animals need us than we can responsibly house.

...and of course, we couldn't talk about Roosters and miss out our beloved 'Henry', the gorgeous Sussex Rooster.
Henry not only gets on with other Chickens; he also loves fuss and cuddles (yes, cuddles!) from his Keepers, and even the other animals on the farm. In fact, he loves to spend time with our Goats.

In the future we hope to upgrade and expand all of our aviaries, creating a more spacious and purpose built environment for our birds and the many more who need a home. Together we can make our future great!

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Animal Sponsorship

After lots of requests, we've set up an animal sponsorship package! Sponsorship makes an ideal and original gift at any time of the year for an animal-loving friend or relative, and we can even post directly to them if you like! Or why not treat yourself? Not only are you treating the recipient, but our animals as well, as profits go straight towards caring for that animal. This can buy food, bedding, helps us to pay for important medications and veterinary treatment, plus enclosure renovations.


When you sponsor with us, you will receive:

  • A certificate
  • 2 Pictures of your animals
  • A copy of our twice yearly newsletter
  • An adult season pass
  • A fact sheet about your animals
  • Your name displayed on the sponsor's board 

We'd like to say a huge thanks to all who have sponsored our animals so far, on behalf of us and the animals. After a few niggly problems (such as printers breaking down!) we got our first packages out in time for Christmas; one of our fantastic Volunteers and maintenance superman John hand-delivered them. But the result we had was well worth it!


Currently you can Sponsor:

  • The Goats
  • The Sheep 
  • Duke the Donkey
  • Callum the Welsh Mountain Pony
  • Leo the Shetland Pony
  • The Owls 

And our Most Popular Animal Award goes to...

Duke the Donkey - Most Popular 2016!

Duke the donkey has been the most popular choice so far, which thrilled him to bits! Duke can be quite a shy donkey, but mischievous and sneaky, with Callum being his partner in crime! Callum loves to steal haynets from him, but Duke stands up for himself by letting out a high-pitched bray to say - "Oi, I need another haynet!".

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

"Invisible" Jobs

We are constantly working to improve the site, but a lot of our biggest jobs lately have been what we've come to call the "Invisible Jobs" here. These are the tasks that will make a big difference to us, but unfortunately aren't things that you can really SEE. For example, we are currently undertaking the enormous task of fixing and replacing old and broken pipework under a few of our paddocks. Though a huge job involving a lot of hard work, man power, and expense; once covered back up, this becomes "invisible" to you, leaving you wondering what we've been up to!

However, once completed this should help fix some of the flooding which has affected several paddocks for years now. With clay soil, in the dip of a valley, and many natural springs on site; wet ground and mud are things we've battled since Day #1, so broken and burst pipes on top of that are most definitely NOT wanted!

It's a bit of a mess at the moment (we've covered up the dug out holes with pallets for now, so Leo the Shetland doesn't accidentally stumble into one - we like to hope he's more intelligent than that, but you can't be too careful!) but we're working hard to have it all covered and fixed up by the time we re-open - and hopefully some drier paddocks, plus a re-instated footpath which we had to close due to its flooding and damage a couple of years ago! There is a lot more repair work needed for this, but we're on the case!

Leo surveying the chaos in his paddock!

It's all go here, and rest assured that though you cannot always see the work being done here, we are ALWAYS working to improve the site and make it great again!

If you think you could help us in any way, please don't hesitate to get in touch! Thank you.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Happy Year of the Rooster!

We would like to wish you a happy new year! But did you know that 28th January marks the Chinese Year of the Rooster?

There are 12 zodiac signs, animals, that the Chinese use to represent their years. They run over a cycle of 12 years, so if you were born in the years 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, and 2005... then this means you're a Rooster! Other zodiac animals include Rabbits, Rats and Monkeys. With 2016 being the Year of the Monkey, we have a big year to follow up on!

Henry, one of our Roosters, full of pride that this year is dedicated to him!

So, why and how do the Chinese celebrate such an exhilarating occasion? The Chinese believe the celebrations, which run from 28th January - 2nd February, will lead to a lucky year; it celebrates the previous year of hard work, also allowing for rest and family time! It also wishes for a lucky coming year.

Celebration methods include:

  • Using red to signify luck - decorating everywhere in red.
  • Setting free lanterns.
  • Festivals.
  • Cyber-money and money gift-giving, usually in red envelopes.
  • Dinners and other family time.

Fun Facts about the (not so humble!) Rooster

  • Many Roosters struggle to get on with other Roosters, but they are intelligent animals nonetheless - Our Henry had a free-range period, where learnt to get on with our Goats!
  • Roosters are the animals you hear being the village's personal alarm clock. 
  • A younger Rooster is called a Cockerel, and an adult Rooster is called a Cock.
  • A Rooster will typically guard his set of hens close, and is usually the head of the 'pecking order'. Pecking order is a literal term where chickens are concerned!
  • Roosters are omnivores, and will typically, in the flock, get first access to all food.
  • While some Roosters can be aggressive, species such as Bantams are easy to tame and are usually quite friendly. 
  • A large comb on the head, plus larger frame/build, are what identifies a Rooster from a Hen. They can sometimes be aggressive, yes, but can also be tamed; a lovely back-garden pet.

We at Brockswood wish all animals, not just Roosters, a happy new year - and our visitors too! Don't forget, we re-open on 8th April, and can't wait to see you!