Friday 30 September 2016

Lost Australian sheep yields 30-jumpers worth of fleece

Published 04/09/2015 | 12:14

An overgrown sheep found in Australian scrubland is prepared to be shorn in Canberra, Australia. The wild, castrated merino ram named Chris, yielded 89 pounds of wool (RSPCA ACT/AP)
An overgrown sheep found in Australian scrubland is prepared to be shorn in Canberra, Australia. The wild, castrated merino ram named Chris, yielded 89 pounds of wool (RSPCA ACT/AP)

An overgrown sheep found lost in Australian scrubland has been shorn for perhaps the first time, yielding 89 pounds of wool - the equivalent to 30 jumpers - and shedding almost half his body weight.

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Tammy Ven Dange, chief executive of the Canberra RSPCA, which rescued the merino ram dubbed Chris, said she hoped to register the massive fleece with Guinness World Records.

The most wool sheared from a sheep in a single shearing is 28.9 kilograms (63 pounds, 11 ounces) taken from a wild New Zealand merino dubbed Big Ben in January last year, the Guinness World Records website said.

"He's looking really good, he looks like a new man," Ms Ven Dange said, as Chris recovered at the Canberra animal refuge. "For one thing, he's only half the weight he used to be."

Champion shearer Ian Elkins said the sheep appeared to be in good condition after being separated from his huge fleece under anaesthetic.

"I don't reckon he's been shorn before and I reckon he'd be 5 or 6 years old," Mr Elkins said.

Chris was found near Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary outside Canberra by bushwalkers who feared he would not survive the approaching southern summer. He was found several miles from the nearest sheep farm. A bushwalker named him Chris after the sheep in the Father Ted television comedy series.

Ms Ven Dange said he had suffered skin burns from urine trapped in his fleece and could have died within weeks if left in the wild.

"When we first brought him in yesterday, he was really shy, he was shaking, he would move his head away from people and he could barely get up and walk," she said.

"The drugs might be wearing off right now, but he's actually coming to you and actually wants a pat. He's certainly moving a heck of a lot better," she added.

She said Chris would be found a new home after vets gave him the all-clear.

Mr Elkins said the fleece was too long to be sold commercially. He hoped it would end up in a museum: "I wouldn't say it's high quality, but you wouldn't expect it to be running around in the bush that long unshorn." he said.

Press Association

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