We all think we know about farm animals – that sheep are stupid, pigs are smart and that cows lie down when it is going to rain. But there’s a lot more to them than that. In this series we’re bringing together some of the country’s best farms to create one sun-dappled ideal where we will test animal intelligence, discover unlikely relationships and uncover a side of farm animals you’ve never seen before.
Part 1: Sheep
It’s springtime on the farm and the focus is on sheep. We follow the first 12 weeks of a lamb’s life on a Welsh Hill farm. Along the way we find out that sheep are highly social animals with not only a remarkable ability to recognise each other, but to recognise human faces too. We meet a ram that has befriended a shy four-year-old boy and we take a drone’s eye view of some multi-coloured sheep to show that despite being sociable, flocking is actually all about self-preservation. Other animals we meet on the farm include Charlie, a lonely goose looking for company in his own reflection.
Part 2: Cows
It’s summer and we follow the first 12 weeks of a Hereford calf’s life as he makes friends and settles into the herd. We discover that cows are much more than mother nature’s muck-spreaders, rather they are highly social animals with complex personalities. They are also brilliant problem solvers with a love of music and given freedom to roam, thanks to the matriarch, they can thrive in the wild just as their ancient ancestors did. Is it any surprise that Hamish the ram wants to be one? But it’s not just about cows. We also discover that chickens use 24 different vocalisations to communicate.
Part 3: Pigs
It’s harvest season. We follow a litter of piglets from birth as they grow up in the Brecon Beacons. We test the theory that every piglet always returns to the same teat to suckle, show that pigs love mud to keep cool because they have practically no sweat glands, and we show how intelligent they are with a series of puzzles. We also reveal that they are masters at the art of deception. Pigs tell porkies! Along the way we meet a pair of kunekune pigs raised as domestic pets in the heart of London. We visit a farm that uses llamas to guard its sheep and meet a pet rabbit with a remarkable identity crisis.