Every month, the Animal Keepers want to introduce you to a member of their extended family, and this month’s animal anarchist is Daisy, the Ouessant sheep!
Ouessants are French and are reported to be the smallest breed of sheep in the world! Visitors to the Animal Walk often mistake Daisy for a lamb, when in fact she is 3 years old, the same age as the rest of the herd, and is a fully mature adult ewe.
Daisy may be small, but she has a BIG attitude!
She is hooves down the loudest animal at the Horniman, and when she starts off a baaing chorus, all the others tend to join in and attempt, and fail to out shout her! Despite her small stature, Daisy is the first to start fights, but is rarely the one to finish them (George, the white faced woodland sheep dominates in that department!).
Ouessants originate from the Ile de Ouessant in Brittany. It has been suggested that this breed of sheep is so small because there was very poor grazing on the island, which led to the selection of small sheep for breeding, and further domestication has maintained this trait! The islanders spun and wore the wool for their clothes and textiles.
The horns of the rams are very heavy, curl forward and terminate in sharp, outward turning tips. Ouessant ewes are polled, which means that they have no horns. This physical difference between the two sexes is called sexual dimorphism.
Rumour has it that the Ouessant breed descended from a Viking breed carried on board their ships and left behind on conquered lands, and Daisy definitely has the personality of a conqueror, just not the physical ability!
Come visit the Animal Walk and meet Daisy and the rest of our rare breed sheep that share her paddocks!
The Animal Walk is open each day from 12.30pm to 4pm and entry is free.