AUSTRALIA (Reuters) — A wild and 𝑎𝑖𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑔 sheep found in a forest in Australia, named Baarack by rescuers, has yielded a fleece weighing more than 77 pounds after being shorn for the first time in many a year.
Baarack, as he has been nicknamed, had been left to run wild for years and grew a massive coat of wool before he was rescued by an animal sᴀɴᴄᴛᴜᴀʀʏ.
The sheep was found by a member of the public who contacted the Edgar’s Mission Farm Sᴀɴᴄᴛᴜᴀʀʏ near Lancefield, Victoria, about 60 kilometers north of Melbourne, according to the Mission’s Kyle Behrend.
Baarack had at least five years” worth of wool growth, according to volunteers at Edgar’s Mission in Lancefield, Australia.
“It appears Baarack was formerly an owned sheep,” Behrend added. “He was ear-tagged at one time, but they appear to have been pulled out by the heavy matted fleece around his face.”
“Sheep need to be shorn at least annually otherwise the fleece continues to grow and grow, as happened here,” said Behrend. After his much-needed shearing, Behrend said Baarack”s fleece weighed in at 35.4 kilograms.
“Whilst his hooves were in great condition from running over the rocks in the forest, he was in a ʙɪᴛ of a bad way. He was underweight, and due to all of the wool around his face he could barely see.”
The tangled mass of wool was weighting the sheep down and limiting his vision, in addition to giving him an ᴏᴅᴅly bloated appearance.
It took an hour for volunteers to remove Baarack’s thick, knotted coat, which usually takes only minutes.
“It was a strain to fathom that beneath that complex moving mass of matted fleece, ornamented with innumerable branches, twigs, and insects, which fᴏʀᴄᴇd his saviors to look twice, was not Australia’s answer to the yeti – but a sheep,” writes the author.
“Each day his wool grew longer and longer, and his predicament direr, while his chances of survival got smaller and slimmer,” wrote Edgar”s Mission.
“Many people are unaware that wool may readily transform into a bulky fleece that continues to develop throughout a sheep’s life.” The wild mouflon, from which sheep are descended, had a naturally shedding, multi-colored fleece that was perfect for camouflage. This fleece grew and then shed according to the seasons, which was an excellent evolutionary adaptation.
“Then came domestication, and thʀᴏᴜɢʜ selective breeding by humans, there are now many breeds of sheep who require annual shearing to ensure a good standard of welfare for these animals.”
“Fᴀɪʟᴜʀᴇ to do sσ puts sheep at a significant disᴀᴅvantage, with potentially fᴀᴛᴀʟ implications.” But Baarack had no idea about all of this because all he wanted to do was live. And he did, taᴋɪɴɢ each opportunity. Baarack had eked out an existence after enduring such a situation while the earth completed her circle around the sun numerous times.
“He found nourishment in the tender shoots of grass that had determinedly made their way up through the forest floor, and seized opportunistic finds of water pooled in puddles to soothe his parched throat – such is the stoicism of sheep.
“Now relieved of that fleece and its 35.4 kilos of burden, Baarack is indeed lighter in more ways than one.
“He will no longer fɪɢʜᴛ for food and shelter, he will no longer be at the whim of predators or the elements, and he will no longer be forgotten.” A few shearing nicks, as well as an 𝑢𝑙𝑐𝑒𝑟, characterize his slender physique, the residue of his once wool-blind state.
“However, this will heal, and Baarack will be able to see the world more clearly now.”
Baarack is now settling in with other rescued sheep at Edgar”s Mission, Behrend said, adding it “all goes to show what incredibly resilient and brave animals sheep really are and we could not love them any more if we tried.”