Parents and children are being invited to Margam Country Park this weekend to watch Father Christmas feeding the deer.
The park’s annual “Santa feeds” which are a big hit with children begin this Saturday and Sunday, December 12 and 13 and then continued next weekend on December 19 and 20 and carry on over to December 21, 22, and 23.
The deer feeds start at 11am, to ensure the park’s many deer are well fed and fit for winter.
A spokesman for the park said: “Visitors are invited to bring their children to the park and watch Santa feed his ‘reindeer’ before exploring the exquisite scenery of the castle and the country park.
“Following the feed boys and girls can visit the children’s village, adventure playground or farm trail.
“Families can also pick up some last minute stocking fillers at the park shop before indulging in a mince pie and a cup of coffee at Charlotte’s Pantry.”
The deer herd at Margam today roams through approximately 500 acres (200 hectares) of parkland.
The herd is thought to date from Norman times although several references are made to deer in this area during the time of Roman occupation.
In the last 15 years firstly Red deer and then Pere David deer have been introduced and thrive in the park.
The Pere David are an endangered species and in the park they are part of a breeding programme under way in conjunction with Whipsnade Safari Park.
The herd at the present time consists of approx 300 fallow deer, 64 red and 34 Pere David.
Park staff manage the deer herd. Culling primarily controls the numbers, the venison is then sold directly to the public.
The Cistercian monks, who established an Abbey at Margam in 1147, are known to have hunted wild deer.
Deer at Margam
In 1558 Sir Rice Mansel was granted a licence to fence the park.
This is thought to have been done to keep the deer inside the park.
Both fallow and red deer were recorded in the park in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Fallow deer are the most widely distributed of the six species of deer living in the United Kingdom and are the species most commonly kept in parks.
The male or buck stands approximately 90cm at the shoulder and can weigh 90kg.
The antlers, which only the male has, are palmated.
Red deer have been reintroduced into Margam Park. This began with six individuals from Guilsborough Park in Northamptonshire. They were believed to be of Scottish origin.
Over the years the gene pool has been improved by the addition to the herd of deer with Warnham blood (Warnham Park is a privately owned deer park in Sussex).
The park spokesman said: “This has vastly improved the quality of the deer herd.
“There are now magnificent stags with antlers with over eighteen points – that is the number of points on both antlers.”
Grass forms the main food of the deer, but brambles, ivy and acorns are also eaten.
During the Santa feed events, the park management asks that all dogs are kept on leads.
Tickets are priced at £15 for cars. and for access to the disabled parking facilities, visitors are asked to arrive at the park before 10.30am.