A rogue overgrown sheep found roaming through regional Australia has been shorn of his 35kg fleece – a weight even greater than that of the famous New Zealand sheep Shrek, who was captured in 2005 after six years on the loose.
The merino ram, dubbed Baarack by rescuers, was discovered wandering alone with an extraordinarily overgrown wool coat, and was promptly shorn to save his life.
Kyle Behrend, from the Edgar’s Mission farm sanctuary, told Reuters that it appeared Baarack was “once an owned sheep” who had escaped. Merino sheep do not shed their fleece and need to be shorn at least annually, as their wool continues to grow.
The hirsute ovine was found near Lancefield in Victoria, and rescuers said he had “eked out an existence” eating small shoots of grass.
“He had at one time been ear-tagged, however these appear to have been torn out by the thick, matted fleece around his face,” Mr Behrend said. “He was in a bit of a bad way. He was underweight and, due to all of the wool around his face, he could barely see.”
Baarack is the latest in a long line of very large and woolly sheep to make international headlines.
In 2005 Shrek became a beloved celebrity in New Zealand after he spent six years evading capture and growing to a tremendous size.
He was eventually shorn of his 27kg fleece, and even met the New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark, before he died in 2011.
A 2014 Guardian Australia analysis estimated that Shrek’s fleece could be used to produce 47.3 jumpers.
Based on an 70 per cent yield assumption, Baarack’s fleece would be the equivalent of 61.3 wool sweaters, or 490 pairs of men’s business socks.
Thirty-five kilograms lighter, Baarack is adapting well. Shrek’s legacy much lives on in his home country, with TVNZ announcing the discovery of Baarack with the headline: “Lost Australian sheep brings back memories of our very own Shrek.”
In 2014 another escaped merino ram, called Shaun the sheep, was found with a 23.5kg fleece in New Zealand.
And last year in Australia an escaped ewe – eventually dubbed Ewenice – was relieved of her 20kg fleece after she was discovered in central Victoria.
But all sheep, Baarack included, still pale in comparison to Chris, a Canberran ram who was found in 2005 with a world record 41kg fleece – twice his body weight.
Chris’s fleece was donated to the National Museum of Australia, where it sits in a large display case. The relieved sheep was adopted to live comfortably on a sanctuary until he died in 2019.
Mr Behrend said Baarack had adapted well to his new weight and was settling in with other sheep on the farm. – Guardian