What do sheep eat
Q. Dear Editor,
As I sat down to eat my lunch a sheep and it's lamb constantly walked up to me begging for food.
I couldn't enjoy my dinner in peace, so I eventually gave it a piece of my mini scotch egg, which I had purchased from a local garage for £1.37p (which I thought was a bargain, especially as the 6 mini-scotch eggs were no where near their best before sell by date!)
Do you have any suggestions what type of food hill sheep like to eat?
Next time I go walking I may take a nice piece of pork pie with one of those hard boiled eggs stuck inside it with a dollop of branston pickle on it!!
Yours Faithfully, Mr. G. Brierley
A. I never get bothered by sheep scrounging for food because I walk with my dog which scares them off. What I do get bothered by though is other walkers trying to feed my dog! Sometimes - on the Kinder walks for example - as I'm wheezing my way around - I reach a summit only to find her sat amongst a crowd of lunching walkers feeding her on sandwiches and crisps etc.. it's like a free buffet! She's never once offered to scrounge or save anything for me!
Chris Ramsey, Knutsford
A. A few years ago I had an experience which I can only describe as 'sheep mugging' whilst trying to eat lunch on Pen Twyn Glas above Crickhowell. I was literally attacked for my lunch by a very persistent sheep, she even pushed her lamb out the way to get at my sandwiches.
My friends were highly amused as she targeted me alone. They said it was because I was a vegetarian - my sandwiches contained dairy-free soya cheese spread which the sheep thought was wonderful!
She slobbered all over my jacket and even managed to get her head inside my pack. It was a nasty experience and I certainly cleaned and re-proofed that jacket when I got home!
On another occasion on High Stile in the Lake District a solitary sheep was targeting any walker daft enough to stop for a snack. It was very partial to crisps.
A. I thought that, since the foot and mouth outbreak, there was a general ban on feeding anything to farm animals, or leaving any food scraps. Boiling up food remains for pig swill has been banned permanently and, I suspect, there is also a chance of there being foreign meats containing Foot and Mouth in your pork pies and scotch eggs.
I know it can be difficult resisting them at times - especially on Catbells, where they creep up behind you and stick their heads in your rucsac.
Bob Price, Leeds
A. Is this a wind-up? I think, though I'm not 100% certain, that the answer is 'Grass' although a sheepologist(!) might be able to refine this down to a variety of herbs, grasses and garden plants. I'm pretty sure it doesn't include branston pickle, mini-scotch eggs, crisps or chocolate - or anything else designed (or otherwise) for human consumption.
However, in 1963 I made an ascent of Pen y Ghent - see Walks ny101 ny112 ny135 ny143 ny158 ny321 ny322 ny331 ny333 - and on the top were two sheep (mum and daughter I think), who were begging butties. In 1970, me and our kid made a second ascent of Shakleton's Couloir on the grassy East face (of PYG), and the two sheep were still there. In 1972 they were there, and in 1986, my first daughter fed them, followed by my son in 1988 and my second daughter in 1990.
They were still there a few weeks ago. This pair must be at least 39 years old - so, maybe cheese and pickle is not so daft after all.
Seriously, the short answer for Mr Brielery's question: 'What do sheep eat?' is 'Grass'.
Please, please, please don't go feeding them anything else, it isn't good for the sheep.
Mike Knipe, Crook
A. One of my greatest moans when out walking on the wilds of some moorland is that just after you settle down to enjoy a well earned lunch gazing at the magnificent vistas before you, it appears every sheep in christendom descends on that spot begging for food.
Why do they do it? Because Mr Brierly and Co. feed them.
It's like the old adage about politicians - Don't vote for them it only encourages them. As Mike Knipe has said (see above) they are designed to live on GRASS and anything else you give them does not the sheep or other walkers any favours.
Phil Goodman, Glapwell
A. Sheep actually eat weeds more than grass. They will not even the grass if there are enough weeds around them.