Could you give these Shetland sheep a caring new home?
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY
These tireless woolly workers have completed their important job at a Norfolk nature reserve - so now they're looking for new homes where they can continue their careers.
The Shetland sheep have been grazing wildflower meadows at the Hawk and Owl Trust's reserve at Sculthorpe Moor near Fakenham, helping to create ideal habitats and hunting grounds for birds of prey.
But with a surplus of animals on site, the trust is seeking to re-home 16 of them.
The hardy but good-natured young animals are prized for their conservation grazing abilities and for their fine wool, so could become part of another working flock - or even replace petrol-powered lawn-mowers on paddocks and grassland.
Hawk and Owl Trust reserve warden Nigel Middleton said any potential new owners would need experience of handling animals, and registered on the CPH (county parish holding) listing of land used for livestock.
"These sheep have done a good job for us, but now they need new homes," he said.
"They have been grazing flower-rich meadows at this time of year to produce a nice diverse variety of flora.
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"They could suit anybody who is looking for an environmentally-friendly way of managing their grass meadows or paddocks but they would need to have a CPH number.
"These sheep might look cute and cuddly but it is a big commitment when you take them on. You need to be registered, and you need to have experience of keeping animals."
Mr Middleton said the 16 sheep, all castrated rams, were born at the end of March 2020, during a successful breeding season which had almost trebled the number of Shetland sheep on the reserve.
"They have a lot of life in them yet," he said. "If we couldn't find a home for them, the reality is that they would go off to market and end up in the food chain."
Katherine Hewkin, who has been looking after the sheep at the reserve, said the "adaptable and hardy" Shetlands could be perfect for anyone looking to graze rough land for the benefit of wildlife, but could also suit those looking to keep sheep for their fleeces, with the flock's natural wool colours varying from light cream to dark brown and black.
"They must either be re-homed in a minimum of pairs or join an existing flock to have company," she said. "Most importantly is that they go to good and knowledgeable homes."
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