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
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history
- 1 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 4 Ann Summers survey reveals the UK's favourite sex position
- 5 Ayyan Ali: Pakistan's top model now appears in the courtroom rather than on the catwalk
£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...
£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...