15 Jul 2009

'Baby doll' sheep used to trim vineyard grass

4:34 pm on 15 July 2009

A Marlborough vineyard owner has big plans for miniature sheep imported from Australia.

Peter Yealands has brought in 10 baby doll sheep which he plans to use to keep the grass trimmed in his 1,000 hectare vineyard.

The sheep, which will be joined by another 30 of the tiny breed later in the year, are part of his efforts to run his vineyard in an environmentally sustainable fashion.

Mr Yealands decided to try the short-legged sheep after another non-mechanised mowing option, guinea pigs, proved to be too easy prey for the local hawk population.

He says normal-sized sheep have to be removed from the vineyard in spring because they can reach buds on the vines and will start eating them.

Mr Yealands is planning to cross-breed the baby doll sheep with merinos for their wool and meat, as well as their grass grazing ability.