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No sleeping on the job: volunteers needed to count sheep

Thursday 24th August 2017

Hebridean sheep Credit: Amy Lewis

If you've ever fancied yourself as a bit of a Bo Peep – before she lost her sheep, that is – Yorkshire Wildlife Trust want to hear from you. We're looking for local nature-lovers to keep an eye on our flock of Hebridean sheep, and help with conservation in the process.

In October, the woolly newcomers will be welcomed to Carr Lodge, an 8 hectare extension to the Trust’s Potteric Carr site. By chowing down on coarse grasses they’ll help less competitive species to flourish, such as wildflowers, which are important for birds, bees and butterflies.

‘Livestock checking is a great way to help local conservation efforts as it can easily fit in with the rest of your life.' Elias Thorpe, Trust volunteer

If you typically picture white, cotton-wool cloud sheep to help you slip off in to a sweet slumber, Hebridean sheep may look more like the guardians of your darker dreams. Their wool is thick and black, and they often have multiple horns – four or more is not uncommon. As well as looking pretty tough, this breed is hardy, making them suitable for a life out on nature reserves in our changeable Yorkshire climate.

The Trust are looking for people in Loversall and the surrounding area who can take a stroll around Carr Lodge once a week or fortnight to count the sheep, spot any that might be struggling with an injury or illness, and report back to YWT staff. This is a hands-off role, so no experience is necessary, and taking your shepherd’s crook along with you to look the part is entirely optional.

The sheep need to be checked on a daily basis to make sure they’re healthy and have a high quality of life. Having volunteer spotters keeping an eye out for the flock frees up time for Trust staff to work on other important local projects.

Trust volunteer Elias Thorpe said ‘Livestock checking is a great way to help local conservation efforts as it can easily fit in with the rest of your life. When you’ve got a busy schedule, factoring in time for a short countryside walk is a great way to unwind, and knowing you’re helping with efforts to conserve the local environment is fantastic.’ If you’d like to get involved, contact Yorkshire Wildlife Trust at