A Tasmanian farmer-couple recently discovered what might just be the world’s woolliest sheep. They’ve named the super-fluffy creature ‘Shaun’, after popular cartoon character Shaun the Sheep from the British comedy series Wallace and Gromit.
As it turns out, Shaun has never had his coat cut, and it is at least half-a-meter thick now. In fact he appears to have been on the run ever since he escaped the shearers at his former farm on Tasmania’s east coast, at least 25 miles away. It is estimated that Shaun has been wandering across the island for the past six years!
Peter Hazel said that he and his wife Netty found Shaun wandering in scrubland on their property last Sunday. He was actually quite easy to catch, what with 20 kilograms of extra fleece weighing him down. His wool was just all over the place, even falling over his eyes and obstructing his vision.
“He couldn’t see very well because of the wool over his face, so I snuck up behind him and grabbed him,” said Peter. “Then Netty and I went and got the ute and put him in the back and brought him into the yard.”
“It is the heaviest sheep I’ve ever lifted,” said Netty. “I just couldn’t believe it, I just could not believe a sheep could have so much wool.” They immediately knew they had to name him Shaun, after Shaun the Sheep.
The couple told reporters that it was a miracle the six-year-old Merino ram survived in the wild for such a long time. Because of all that wool, he could have easily suffered a heat stroke or myiasis from fly larvae. “Because usually they get cast and can’t get up, or they get fly-struck or the hot weather gets to them,” explained Peter. “I thought it would be almost impossible for a sheep to go that long and have such good wool on him. It’s surprisingly good-quality wool.”
Shaun is finally being clipped this week, and locals are excited to see if he can break the world record for fleece yield. “There’s three or four good jumpers in there,” Netty joked. She plans to enter the fleece into a few country shows.
The current record for most amount of fleece belongs to a New Zealand sheep called ‘Shrek’ – he produced a whopping 27 kilograms of wool in 2004. He had become so popular that he was actually put on a nationwide tour that included a meeting with the Prime Minister.