Meet the uncommon mini sheep making a comeback in Cumbria


Heidi Bell and Romeo

A fourth technology Cumbrian shepherdess has gone viral on social media for her distinctive miniature sheep.

Heidi Bell, 50, of Kirkby Stephen, has been breeding the very uncommon Olde English Babydoll Southdowns for the previous three years and has shared her journey on Instagram.

Heidi mentioned: “We had moved to a home with 4 acres and an orchard, which is rather a lot to mow, so we began searching for a small flock to maintain the grass down.

“I did web searches and the breed of sheep really helpful for orchards was the miniature teddy bear Olde English Babydolls – however this was an American web site – in truth, there was a number of data on American web sites on the traditional English breed however no British.”

Babydoll sheep should not a miniature ‘created’ breed, however are an historical breed of sheep that grew to become extinct within the UK over 50 years in the past and have solely simply been reintroduced.

The mini sheep had been saved by shepherds throughout the UK earlier than the Second World Conflict, however as soon as conflict broke out, extra strong, larger sheep had been required to take care of the land.

As a consequence of their dimension, the Babydolls had been shipped throughout to America and used for low grazing in orchards and vineyards, the place they’ll’t attain the produce.

Heidi added: “I discovered there was only a handful of registered breeders within the UK, and I managed to purchase 4 ewes from Flock of Arwen, who I consider because the genetic hub of the Babydolls within the UK.

“I grew to become in a short time emotionally related with this very distinctive breed, they love human interplay, they’re straightforward to take care of and my ardour for the miniature teddy bear sheep with the infectious massive smile grew, three years on we now have 44 pet sheep.”

Heidi is now one in all solely 10 farmers throughout the UK protecting correct bloodlines of the sheep and reintroducing them to Cumbria’s panorama within the Eden Valley.

Whereas they could be small in stature, the Babydolls are filled with character and pet-like in nature, mentioned Heidi.

She added: “They’ve personalities similar to dogs and cats, a few of them will leap up like a dog, some assume it’s the smartest thing to nibble my ears, however they’re very light and loving. I’ve handled quite a lot of sheep up to now, and I gained’t hesitate to let folks within the area, they’re simply actually light and type.

“I name them teddy bears on a regular basis, they are going to stand and cuddle for so long as you’ve got. Their fur is tightly compacted, it’s nearly like cashmere in order that they’re pretty to cuddle to be sincere.

“However they nonetheless do have a powerful flock intuition and can behave in a single group, they’re very routine and can nap collectively within the solar. However they don’t mix nicely with different species, they usually don’t want a sheepdog, you simply need to shake the bucket they usually all come working.”

All 44 of the sheep are named, they usually’ve develop into fairly the web celebrities, with a few of Heidi’s Instagram video’s reaching as much as 1.2 million views.

Heidi mentioned: “The nice factor with reels is you may get a glimpse into their personalities, I believe that’s the very best factor to share. A photograph is simply static, so you possibly can’t get an actual really feel for what they’re like. They have these pretty smiles and you actually see after they really feel upset.”

She added that she had additionally discovered a powerful sense of neighborhood on Instagram, notably round lambing season when recommendation from different Babydoll farmers may be invaluable.

Heidi continued: “I’m a fourth technology shepherdess, however my mum left her farm at 15 so I’ve no historic data. I’ve needed to study all of it from scratch to maintain them.

“Loads of it has been from Instagram, there’s been occasions at one within the morning the place I’ve requested for assist from different farmers with a lamb caught in lambing and I’ve additionally learn masses round protecting them.”

Speaking about her future with the Babydolls, Heidi added: “Proper now, they’ve obtained fairly quick coats because it’s summer time, so I’m actually wanting ahead to September/October time after they get an extended fleece after they get fairly!

“My purpose is to now increase the profile of the breed via social media and present an perception into the personalities and characters of this wonderful uncommon breed and unfold consciousness for individuals who don’t learn about them.”


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