31 May 2011

Waiting list for miniature sheep

1:10 pm on 31 May 2011

A Marlborough vineyard has sparked a sheep-breed shortage in Australia.

New South Wales farmer Linda Power says miniature sheep are in such high demand in the viticulture industry there's a two-year waiting list, the ABC reports.

Babydoll sheep, also known as Olde English Southdowns, grow to on 60cm and are popular in vineyards because they can't reach the grapes growing on the vines.

Ms Power says she started breeding them just to sell as pets and grass-eaters and didn't expect the breed to attract so much interest.

But after she was contacted by a vineyard in New Zealand to sell some of the babydoll sheep to eat the undergrowth around the vines, other vineyards caught onto the idea and it's just exploded from there.

Yealands Estate in the Waitere Valley in Marlborough grazes the miniature sheep instead of mowing the grass under the vines as a sustainability measure.