Pet Of The Week: The Southdown sheep
Saturday 16 October 2010
We've embraced the urban chicken and the micro pig... now it's time to consider the domestic sheep. OK, so it's probably not suited to a one-bed city flat, but, with sheep numbers having halved in the UK in the past 20 years – due in part to us using less wool – it's about time we gave them some attention.
Mind the grass
Sheep are such an integral part of our countryside, munching their way through grass, and keeping everything ship-shape in the hills and dales, so much so that farmers historically referred to them as "The Golden Hoof". So if you plan to invest, you'll need a bit of grassy space.
Last week was Campaign for Wool week (see campaignforwool.org), a chance to big up sheep and the wonders of using their snug coats to clothe us, and insulate and carpet our homes. But with wool prices at rock bottom, this sustainable, versatile, biodegradable material often goes to waste.
"Sheep are patient, diligent parents," says Mike. "They even recognise me when I hop into their field." Mike has about 30 sheep and breeds lambs as well: "For me, few things equal the pleasure of seeing a ewe mothering-up her two newly-born lambs."
OK, sheep are not exactly a household pet, but thousands of people keep them for purposes other than rearing lambs, as they rub along well with each other and other animals. Keep at least two sheep together, as they like company, and for this they would need no less than an acre of pasture.
Your good health
Keeping sheep can be a hobby, but it must be a serious one. They need looking over once a day to check for signs of foot rot (dodgy toenails) and fly strike, but on the whole they are not prone to illness.
So, you've decided to start a flock. Well done. According to Mike Pavia, a sheep farmer in West Sussex, "They are good-natured, intelligent animals." Smaller breeds, such as the Southdown, above, are more manageable and have a chunky coat, so you should get plenty of wool to work with, should you wish to shear.
Life & Style blogs
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Andreas Guenter Lubitz intentionally crashed flight 9525 into the Alps in act of mass murder and suicide – latest
- 1 Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
- 2 Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
- 3 Zayn Malik already working on solo material, just days after quitting One Direction
- 4 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 5 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...