Sheep shearing is the process of cutting off a sheep’s wool fleece. The sheep’s human caretakers typically shorn the sheep once each year, usually in the spring so that the sheep don’t become overheated in the summer.
If the fleece grows too long, it will drag on the ground and become dirty, increasing the chance of the sheep getting flystrike. Flystrike is a condition where parasitic flies lay eggs in the wool, which can eventually become lethal for sheep. If the fleece becomes overgrown, it will also decrease the mobility of the sheep and negatively affect their daily life.
Sadly, one sheep was spotted by hikers, roaming around southeast Australia all by himself. But this wasn’t just any sheep, it was one who hadn’t been taken care of for years. He was struggling to walk around, as he carried 90 pounds of extra wool.
He was estimated to be about five or six years old, and by the looks of it, his fleece hadn’t been shorn for likely his entire life. With summer quickly approaching, the hikers were concerned that this sheep wouldn’t survive the heat with all of that fleece.
They immediately contacted the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, who then sought an expert shearer to rid of all this nasty wool as soon as possible. Ian Elkins, a four-time national shearing champion, came to the rescue.
While Elkins is an expert, he’s never had to shave anything like this before; it was certainly one for the books – quite literally! Elkins and his new sheep friend now hold the Guinness World Records title for Most Wool Sheared From A Sheep in a Single Shearing! Elkins wound up shaving more than 90 pounds off of him, which took almost an hour.
The sheep, now named Chris, was so relieved to finally be free of all that mess. As soon as it was shaved off, his personality immediately changed. He was so much happier and very social. He loved to be pet and meet new people.
Chris went to live on a farm where he is being well taken care of, and all of his wool was sent to the National Museum of Australia, where it was put on display as a reminder of how dependent these animals are on humans for their welfare.
Watch Chris in his new life below:
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Today Chris the Sheep is munching grass on a farm near Canberra. We like to think he's quietly chuffed about his record breaking fleece going on display! Learn more about Chris: http://bit.ly/1PPKJZY
Posted by National Museum of Australia on Tuesday, February 16, 2016