Young MacDonald: Farmers rewrite ‘outdated’ nursery rhyme

British farmers have written an alternative version of Old MacDonald, claiming that the century-old nursery rhyme is playing a part in the publics outdated perception of farming.
British farmers have written an alternative version of Old MacDonald, claiming that the century-old nursery rhyme is playing a part in the publics outdated perception of farming.

British farmers have written an alternative version of ‘Old MacDonald’, claiming that the century-old nursery rhyme is playing a part in the public’s outdated perception of farming.

LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) surveyed farmers ahead of this weekend’s Open Farm Sunday (June 11) which will see hundreds of farms across the country open their gates to the public. More than three quarters of farmers said they believe that people have an outdated perception of what farming is like (77 per cent), with more than one in three (36 per cent) claiming the idea of a farmer like ‘Old MacDonald’ is out of date.

Farmers have now released a version called ‘Young MacDonald’, with new verses covering the diversity of modern farming, including the technology used on the farm, the environmental work farmers do, and the people who work on the farm.

Additional consumer research by LEAF shows that the public perception of a farmer is in need of an update. Only 13 per cent of people think of farmers as female, but in fact women make up 28 per cent of the workforce on Britain’s farms. Just over 25,000 women run farms in the UK, but the survey results showed that people believed it to be less than a quarter of that (6,740). Just one in five people (19 per cent) would describe a farmer as ‘technologically savvy’, despite the majority of farmers using GPS, apps, drones and even milking robots on their farms.

The public’s perception of farming still focuses mostly on animals, with 87 per cent of people associating farms with cows, cattle, sheep, pigs or poultry rather than crops or fresh produce. Large numbers of those surveyed were unaware that in the UK we commercially produce peppers (70 per cent), wine (53 per cent), rapeseed oil (48 per cent), herbs (44 per cent) or broccoli (35 per cent).

More than nine in ten (93 per cent) farmers believe that it is important to educate people about food and farming at an early age, with three quarters (73 per cent) claiming that more young people need to be encouraged to look at a career in farming.

Caroline Drummond from sustainable farming charity LEAF, which organises Open Farm Sunday, said: “Farming has come a very long way in the past 100 years and we’re far removed from where we were when Old MacDonald was written. This is the perfect time to get it updated.

“Although people’s image of a typical farmer has not changed much over the years we are actually seeing more young people come into the profession with women playing a bigger role than ever before. That’s why we decided that ‘Young MacDonald’ should be a woman! We still have a way to go to encourage more people to understand the value of farming and consider farming as a career but Open Farm Sunday is an excellent way to show people of all ages what modern British farming is all about.”

Young MacDonald Had a Farm (revised verses)

Young MacDonald had a farm

Yo, yo, yo, yo yo!

And on that farm she had a drone

Yo, yo, yo, yo, yo!

She flew it here, she flew it there

Checked the farm, from in the air

Young MacDonald had a farm

Whirr, whirr, whirr whirr, whirr!

Young MacDonald had a farm

Yo, yo, yo yo, yo!

And on that farm she had a tractor

Yo, yo, yo, yo, yo!

With the latest technology it is driverless

For Precision farming with GPS

Young MacDonald had a farm

Brmm, brmm, brmm brmm, brmm!

Young MacDonald had a farm

Yo, yo, yo yo, yo!

And on that farm she had some wildlife.

Yo, yo, yo, yo, yo!

She planted hedges, flowers and trees

To attract the insects, birds and bees

Young MacDonald had a farm

Buzz, buzz, buzz buzz, buzz!

Young MacDonald had a farm

Yo, yo, yo yo, yo!

And on that farm she had her team

Yo, yo, yo, yo, yo!

With a crop doctor here, and a vet over there

To care for crops and animal welfare

Young MacDonald had a farm

Moo, oink, bah bah, cluck!

Young MacDonald had a farm

Yo, yo, yo yo, yo!

And on that farm she grew some crops

Yo, yo, yo, yo, yo!

With oats over here, and barley there

Crops for porridge, crops for beer

Young MacDonald had a farm

Yum, yum, yum yum, yum!