Smithills Open Farm – A Great Day Out Near Manchester

Over the weekend we took a trip to Smithills Open Farm – a working dairy farm nestled away in Bolton. 

We’ve visited a few times before as it’s easy for us to get to from West Yorkshire and it’s quickly become a firm favourite for us. 

During Covid times, the farm has ensured safety above everything else – limited visitors are allowed at once, staff are stationed around the farm making sure masks are worn in the appropriate areas, and there are lots of hand sanitizing stations. 

The main feature of the farm is the enormous cow shed where you can get up close with hundreds of cows who seem to enjoy having their noses stroked, and will lick your clothes if you stand still for too long, much to my son’s delight! The cow shed also has stalls of pigs, deer, ponies, sheep (and some lambs at the moment) and various other farm animals. You can feed them with the feed provided by the farm, and children of all ages can enjoy the close up experience. Right at the end of the cow shed is the milking station where you can see the cows being milked and learn all kinds of interesting milking facts. 

Honestly, I think in most cases the dairy industry is flawed, and I’m sure this farm has imperfections too, but on the surface the cows are certainly happy and very well looked after! 

In an adjacent shed you can meet calves, and outside there are goats, meerkats, donkeys, llamas, owls, and wallabies to see! 

At 18 months old, my twins aren’t at a stage where they’re particularly interested in seeing all of the animals, but they showed some curiosity towards cows and sheep which was nice to see. They loved running up and down the cow shed, and were smiling all day! I’ll carry on bringing them to the farm every six months or so, to carry on exposing them to animals, new sights, and smells. I imagine, every time they visit, they’ll show a little more interest in the animals! 

Please let me know if you have any recommendations of great toddler friendly places in the North West. I’ve written before about how Manchester City isn’t particularly child friendly, but it’s good to know about nearby places like this that are much more suitable! 

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