Day 21 was spent helping shear the sheep at work. At first this may not seem particularly ‘wild’ but sheep are a vital tool in practical conservation and managing nature reserves. Sheep (and other livestock) are used as living breathing lawnmowers on grassland and so we must look after them to ensure they are fit and able to do the job!
Over the warmer months sheep do not need their thick fleece. Some breeds can shed it themselves whilst others require a helping hand and need to be shorn. As wool is just specially adapted hair shearing doesn’t hurt the sheep although they do occasionally object to the undignified positions they are put in in order for the fleece to be cut!
Sheep are used on reserves to keep scrub levels down and create a mix of sward heights. This creates a host of microclimates perfect for a whole host of different plants and insects. We have a few different breeds as they have slightly differences in how they graze.
After I’d spent some time rolling fleeces I had the chance to learn how to roll a sheep onto their backs ready to be shorn. It is hard work; sheep at heavy and feisty!