10 facts about Scottish sheep
Scottish sheep with massive fro
With the recently released warning against pregnant women coming within close range of sheep at this time of year i.e. lambing season, BBC News has compiled a very interesting, and odd might we add, list of peculiar facts about sheep native to Scotland. Here’s what you need to know:
1. There are more sheep than people in Scotland
This is quite creepy if you think about it. I’m picturing a national sheep take-over with humans as servants. Anyway, in June 2013 there were 6.57 million sheep compared to 5.3 million people according to the stats.
2. Pregnant women are to stay away from sheep during lambing season
Chief Medical Office for Scotland, Sir Harry Burns issued a warning recently that pregnant women should steer clear of sheep, cattle and goats in order to avoid infection. So if you’re pregnant and live on a farm, you’re basically screwed.
3. Female sheep-shearers are on the rise
And why shouldn’t they be? Back in 2008 the Scottish Shearing Association (yes, that is a real thing) started an initiative to entice new workers to the profession. The result, nearly half of the enrolled students on their sheep-shearing course were women by 2011.
4. Scotland hosts the biggest ram sale in Europe
According to the Border Union Agricultural Society, the biggest one-day ram sale in Europe and possibly the world is held in Scotland. You know where to go if you fancy buying a ram then…
5. Buying rams is very expensive
However, be warned, a tup lamb was bought for a staggering £231,000 in 2009. Ouch! Maybe I won’t be buying that ram then…
6. Some have sheep as pets
Forget the crazy cat lady, this is the age of the crazy lamb lady! Farms and families often take in lambs rejected by their parents. Anna MacDonald from North Uist had 18 lambs in her care at one point.
7. Scotland may have the world’s oldest sheep at 25
This is clearly a very controversial topic since the official named record holder was residing in Australia at the same time, but was 2 years her junior at 23.
8. Sheep-racing is a popular sport
Betting cards at the ready! The town of Moffat in Dumfriesshire hosts a racing competition in its town centre, complete with mock jockeys made of wool on the backs of the sheep.
9. Sheep are blamed for family clearances
So that sheep production could take place on a larger scale in the Highlands, it is thought that families were cleared off the land in the 18th and 19th centuries. Surely people can’t still be mad at sheep 200 years later though?
10. They live where people don’t
This is surely evidence of the great sheep take-over I was talking about… The islands of St Kilda only provide a temporary home for scientists; otherwise they have been uninhabited since the 30s. Wild sheep of the Soay type live there though.
Visit the sheep of Scotland – that is as long as they haven’t pushed the humans out by the time of your visit – and if you hire a campervan for your sheep-spotting trip, you can even invite one in for a cup of tea.