Sheep in Ireland

 

Just as people stroll through the towns and villages of Ireland, many animals do as well. I found myself commonly walking on the left side of the road and turning down to my side to see cows, horses, goats, and sheep. There are many farms in Ireland, owned by people that live on the property and take care of the land. The Killray Sheep farm is owned by a man named Tom. The Killray sheep farm is located in the parish of Bunowen, an hour away from Spiddal. The farm is about a twenty-minute walk away from the main road. It is on the top of green mountains that overlook the bay. The sheep wander around as they please. Most farmers use  catchments made with rocks that are slanted down at an angle to collect rainwater so they do not have to fill up buckets of water, this process happens naturally. This is done in order to help save water while hydrating the animals. The sheep nibble on grass as their main source of food. Since the grass is tall and long in Ireland, this gives them a large food resource. Sheep tend to wander in packs and not alone. Commonly, big sheep travel with a few small ones. This happens because the parent sheep want to make sure their children are okay. According to the farmer Tom, sheep are very protective of their young. They will chase people if they come to close to them without being by their side. Sheep connect to their parents in a deeper way then you would expect. Tom discussed with us  how two of the baby sheep often follow him when he passes by. This is because they have no mother, so he needs to feed them from a bottle. The sheep associate him with their mother figure and tend to follow him for protection.

Sheep dogs are raised to be working dogs and gather the sheep into one area. Tom goes about this process by standing in the top corner of a large fenced in area that has about ten sheep in it. He uses whistles and a few commands that direct his herding dog, Silvia, to move the sheep in a certain direction. He uses a command for left, right, faster, and slower.  Seeing this process completed, Silvia gathered all the sheep to the top of a little fenced in area effortlessly. This is necessary in order to shave the sheep’s coats. Tom uses large scissors to shave the sheep so he does not hit the sheep’s skin during the process. Tom says “they feel better” when the trimming is done because their coats are so heavy to hold up.

        The young sheep fur is soft and white, this is because most of them have not been trimmed yet therefore their fur is fresh and clean. The fur that is trimmed from the sheep smells surprisingly clean. The fur is washed and used for clothing after being cut. The sheep in Ireland are mostly raised for the use of humans to remove and sell their wool for clothing.

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