Miniature baby doll sheep may be the cutest breed of sheep in existence. They’re useful, too–Peter Yealands, a New Zealand winemaker, is using the rare breed (only 300 are left) to cut down on the carbon footprint of his wine.
Unsurprisingly, baby doll sheep were originally bred as miniature pets, but Yealands has let them loose on the grass between his vines to graze. Other breeds of sheep are used by winemakers to keep grass short, but the sheep have to be yanked away when vines bud so they don’t eat the grapes. Once the vines are ripe, most winemakers use tractors. The baby doll sheep, which measure just 23 inches when fully grown, are too short to reach grapes, so they can be used even when vines ripen. As a result of nixing tractors from his seasonal routine, Yealands has cut down on energy costs by 60%.
Yealands is no fool–he knows that the more baby dolls he has, the more money he can save. So the winemaker is breeding baby dolls with Merino Saxon sheep to build his stock up to 10,000 in the next five years. Ultimately, he expects the flock to save him nearly one million dollars yearly in diesel costs. If all goes well, Yealands plans to sell the sheep for meat once their work in the fields is done. Some advice for Yealands: it could be worth selling live baby doll sheep to other winemakers, too. After all, who doesn’t want to save big bucks on energy costs?
[Via UK Guardian]