Sheep are not stupid at all, they are intelligent amusing creatures that can recognise up to 25 people and know when you are smiling at them! Having said that, it’s good to leave them alone if you see any on your walks, as they spook easily and this can even cause them to miscarry.
Always follow the Countryside Code (to keep both livestock and dogs safe) by keeping to marked paths, leaving gates and property as you find them and not leaving litter or lighting fires, dropping cigarette butts or having BBQs. Keep dogs under control and in sight, and pick up the poop. Put dogs on leads on Open Access land (a legal requirement between 1 March and 31 July). This is for your dog’s safety too, as farmers can legally shoot dogs that worry sheep.
wear vegan alternatives to winter woollies!
Although sheep do need shearing to avoid over-heating, falling over (right one up if you see it upside down or it will die) and to see predators, the conventional wool industry has many issues. Some sheep are sheared too early (leading to hypothermia) and others suffer ‘mulesling’ (having chunks of skin sliced away to prevent flystrike, without painkillers). And many sheep are killed, when they get older and their wool production slows down). Organic cotton is kinder and just as warm, so why not give it a go? Find vegan alternatives to winter woollies and organic cotton beanie hats.
help for farm sanctuaries & small farmers
It’s also important to help our small farmers so they have enough land, welfare advice and money to look after their flock. Farming Community Help offers debt help and free feed for livestock. Find info on preventing/treating footrot at Sheep Veterinary Society and Homeopathy at Wellie Level (courses are endorsed by vets).
One Devon farmer was driving sheep to the abattoir but it all got too much ‘‘I couldn’t cope anymore’. So he turned direction and drove them to their new home at Goodheart Animal Sanctuaries. Check vegan Lancashire hotpots recipes!
learn of the wisdom of sheep!
The Wisdom of Sheep (and other animals) is a book by an organic farmer of over 40 years, who’s here to teach us that sheep are far from stupid, and very interesting animals.
Some sheep are affectionate, others are prone to head-butting. Some are self-sufficient and others seek help when needed. And some can be trusted to lead the flock home. Some sheep have long memories and others show good judgement of character. This book describes the complex personalities of sheep growing old disgracefully and also covers the intelligence of hens and conversations between cows. Read this book and you’ll never look at a sheep in the same way.
Rosamund Young lives on an organic farm on the edge of the Cotswolds, where nature is left to itself as much as possible, and animals receive kindness and consideration. She is also author of The Secret Life of Cows, showing how these lovely animals spend a lot of their day eating, but also babysitting and playing hide-and-seek!