Sheep may be a good pet for ewe!

WOOLLY FRIEND: Marcus Christensen, 4, with ’Sparkle’ the sheep at Blacksoil Bush Kidz.
WOOLLY FRIEND: Marcus Christensen, 4, with ’Sparkle’ the sheep at Blacksoil Bush Kidz. Sarah Harvey

THEY may not be the first animal that comes to mind when thinking about pets, but is seems sheep are on their way to becoming man's new best friend.

According to the Australian Veterinary Association, with the increase of the urban sprawl in Australia, more of the woolly creatures are being kept as companion animals.

Association president Dr Mark Carter said sheep made good pets because they were very gentle and responded well to human contact.

"We're seeing more pet sheep with the growth of larger blocks of land on the outskirts of cities," he said.

Children at the Bush Kidz Day Care Centre in Blacksoil can certainly attest to keeping sheep as pets, caring for the animals at the venue each day.

For the past eight years, the centre has raised the animals, encouraging kids to nurture and play with them.

Bush Kidz area manager Lolita Brennan said sheep had many qualities that made them an ideal pet.

"They are very tame creatures and are easy to handle," she said. "We raise them at a young age and have the children bottle feed them twice a day.

"They don't require a lot of maintenance either; you don't need to trim their nails or comb their hair or anything like that."

Ms Brennan said a major requirement though was that they needed open space.

"Our centre is located on a five-acre block of land, so the lambs graze during the day and are penned safely at night," she said. "The sheep we raise are often donated from local properties and when they've grown to a certain age, we hand them back."

But before you start looking for a new woolly member of the family, RSPCA Queensland CEO Mark Townend reminded people they needed to think before acquiring a larger animal at home on a farm.

"Just because a family may have a couple of acres doesn't mean they have the capacity to properly care for larger breeds of farm animals," he said.

"Sadly people realise this too late and often see themselves with no choice but to surrender the animal or in some case of mistreatment have the animal seized by an inspector."



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