The Farm Experience

Sky Park Farm is a real working farm, offering authentic insights into life on a busy farm devoted to deer. You’ll be able to stroll through the ‘races’ – fenced paths linking our fields – where you can get close to our herds.

In spring and early summer you may see calves, born, like Bambi, with large white spots as camouflage against predators in the wild. During most of the year, you’ll note that our hinds and stags lead separate lives, the males sticking together in loose bachelor groups.

Whenever you visit, you’ll be in the heart of the South Downs National Park, surrounded by lush farmland stretching down to the banks of the River Rother. If you’re feeling energetic, follow our trail and take a riverside stroll. If not, simply find a serene spot to admire the deer.

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Family feeding the red deer at sky park farm
 

Adventure Playground

Our deer are safe in their paddocks but our adventure playground lets children roam free. They can crawl through tunnels, slide down poles, tackle a treetop walkway, invade a hilltop fortress, clamber up nets and generally satisfy their lust for adventure. A separate fenced-off play area dedicated to under 5’s has a sandpit, swings, climbing area and a mini fort with a slide.

Following a firm eco-friendly policy, our playground has been handcrafted from robinia, a splinter-proof hardwood with a greater density than oak. Each piece is individual, keeping the tree’s natural shape.

Rest assured, the design and construction has been monitored by independent playground experts, who confirm that it meets all safety standards and conforms to industry best practice. So…encourage your kids to leave their screens behind and set off on a real-life adventure.

Children exploring the Adventure Playground at Sky Park Farm
 

Picnic Grounds

Let us satisfy your appetite for alfresco dining in the English countryside. 

Our Visitor Centre has sandwiches, healthy snacks, drinks and sweet treats to fulfil your picnic needs.  Alternatively, bring your own food. Whatever’s on your menu, you’re welcome at the Sky Park Farm picnic areas, with entry included in the farm admission price.

As you tuck into your picnic, spare a thought for the herds of deer grazing nearby…confirmed herbivores, their daily diet is limited to grasses, sedges, leaves, berries, tree-shoots and other woody plants. Although they can’t share your picnic, grab a bag of special deer food when you arrive and offer this to the deer during your visit. 

As we don’t want our deer eating any leftovers, please put all rubbish in the bins provided around the farm.

Dew pond picnic area at Sky Park Farm
 

Education

We aim to establish Sky Park Farm as a centre of excellence and national authority on deer husbandry studies. We’re well placed to achieve this objective, as Dominic Strutt, our highly experienced Estate Manager, is Chairman of the British Deer Farms & Parks Association.

People involved in deer farming at all levels visit our training centre to attend seminars concerning best practice and industry innovation. As we grow our red deer herd and breeding initiative, we hope to widen the scope of our education programme.

We also believe that many people of all ages will benefit from our education plans. Classes for young people will answer the question ‘Where does meat come from?’ (Clue: It’s not Waitrose or Sainsbury’s.) In this way, we hope to widen people’s understanding of sustainable farming practices.

Lily our ranger feeding the red deer at Sky Park Farm
 

Deer Farming

As more people appreciate the importance of a healthy diet, strict animal welfare standards and sustainable meat production, more British farmers are turning to deer. Unlike meat from wild deer, farmed venison provides consistency in both size and quality.

Sky Park Farm is a pioneer in this movement, producing ultra-high quality venison with total traceability and a gentle carbon footprint. We’re introducing innovative methods of husbandry, such as the micro chipping of each animal with an ear-tag to automate record keeping.

As we expand our enterprise, we’re determined to reduce the amount of venison that has to be imported from far away countries, a practice that’s hardly sustainable or environmentally friendly. To this end, along with venison, we also rear male and female breeding animals for live sales to other carefully vetted UK deer farms and deer parks.

Red deer yearlings at sky park farm
 

About Red Deer

As the UK’s largest wild land mammal, the red deer is an icon with a history in Harting going back 800 years. And, of course, in the Scottish highlands…The Monarch of the Glen, The Stag at Bay … red deer crop up everywhere from framed prints to shortbread tins. 

Living up to its fame, a stag’s antlers, growing at the rate of up to 2.5 cm a day, can stretch up to a metre wide with up to 16 branches. The antlers, shed and regrown each year, are used as weapons to intimidate and see off other males during the autumnal breeding season known as ‘the rut’.

As farm animals, red deer are as tame as cattle and the most efficient converters of grass to meat. Compared to other species of deer, they also produce larger, better cuts of venison.

a red deer stag, about red deer
 

About Sika Deer

Sika deer were introduced into Britain from the Far East in 1860. It is possible that almost all living English, Scottish and Irish Sika are descendants from only one Japanese stag and three hinds introduced to Viscount Powerscourt’s deer park at Enniskerry, Eire in 1860.

The name comes from shika, the Japanese word for “deer”. In Japan, the species is known as the “nihonjika”.

Sika graze on grasses and browse on dwarf shrubs and occasionally coniferous tree shoots and tree bark. Sika populations require careful management to maintain health and quality and ensure a sustainable balance with their environment.

Sika, similar in size and pellage to fallow deer, have white spots on their coats with a white caudal patch on their rump and a short, white tail. There is often a dark coloured dorsal stripe running the length of their back. In summer, they boast a rich chestnut coat mellowing to a dark mushroom colour in winter. 

You can spot a sika deer as its head is small in comparison to its body.

Sika Deer
 

About White Deer

White Red deer are rare in the UK, with only a handful of sightings in the wild reported over the last few decades.

The white colour is explained by leucism, a unique condition that has resulted in their hair and skin losing its natural colour. White Red deer are not albino – in fact, the chances of a pure albino deer being born are about 1 in 20,000, according to John Bates, Wisconsin Northwoods naturalist and co-author of White Deer: Ghosts of the Forest. 

In certain cultures around the world, stories and myths have been told for centuries about white deer. Striking in appearance, the white stag or hart, often appeared in stories relating to the forests around King Arthur’s court, sending the knights on adventures against gods and fairies. One fable relates how King Arthur arrived at Sir Pellinore’s Well, a magical site, without his hunting party or his horse after pursuing a white deer. The white stag was also the heraldic symbol of England’s King Richard II and even makes an appearance in Harry Potter as Harry’s Patronus Charm!

White Deer
 

Venison & Health

Venison is good for you, in so many ways. With more protein than other red meat, it promotes lean muscle growth and satisfies the appetite more. It’s also rich in minerals such as iron, helping to prevent anemia and lift energy levels. 

It’s also full of important B vitamins including B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin), which help regulate the metabolism, and B6 and B12, which are thought to lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Crucially, venison is lean, as it’s low in saturated fat…lower than beef, ham and even salmon. At the same time, it has exceptionally low cholesterol for a red meat. At Sky Park Farm, our venison is free range and pasture fed, boosting its healthy-eating credentials.

red deer looking at the camera. venison & health
 

Farm & Visitor Centre

Open Tuesday to Sunday

Monday

Closed

Tuesday to Sunday

9:00am – 5:00pm

As a working deer farm there will be occasions where parts of the farm may need to temporarily close for operational reasons. In such instances we will give you as much notice as possible.

 

Farm Shop & Butcher

Opening Soon

FARM SHOP

Monday to Saturday

9:00am – 5:00pm

Sunday

9:00am – 4:30pm

BUTCHER

Wednesday to Saturday

9:00am – 5:00pm

Sunday

9:00am – 4:30pm

 

The Grazing Rooms

Opening Soon

Monday to Tuesday

Closed*

Wednesday to Saturday

9:00am – 5:00pm

Sunday

9:00am – 4:30pm

*Only hot drinks and snacks will be available at The Grazing Rooms bar.