Tasmanian Sheep May Be Wooliest In World

Shaun the sheep might beat out the previous champ, Shrek, as the world’s wooliest sheep

Shrek the sheep (seen here in 2004) held the record for wooliest sheep Simon Baker/Reuters/Corbis

A Tasmanian sheep may be the wooliest in the world. Found wandering in the Tasmanian countryside, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that the six-year-old merino sheep has never been shorn. 

The farmers who found the sheep named him Shaun after the animated character Shaun the sheep. His new caretakers believe that his unshorn fleece could hold the record for heaviest fleece in the world, currently held by a New Zealander sheep named Shrek. 

Shrek was found in 2004, after also avoiding shearing for six years. When he was shorn for charity on live TV, Shrek’s fleece weighed a stunning 60 pounds, enough, as the BBC noted, to make 20 large men’s suits. Shrek died in 2011, at the ripe old age of 16, mourned by New Zealand. 

Whether Shaun breaks Shrek’s record will be determined in the next few days. Domesticated sheep, like Shrek and Shaun, were bred for their wool, so unlike wild breeds, they aren’t able to shed, which can create some problems, as Modern Farmer found out when they interviewed sheep expert Dave Thomas last year:

MF: Are there potential health issues?

DT: Full fleece can be bad in very hot weather, sometimes leading to heat stress. There are also mobility issues: if a sheep with long wool lies down on a heavy incline, it can be impossible for them to roll off of their backs. In extreme cases, they can die.

So even if Shaun has grown accustomed to his long locks, it’s probably past time for him to get a haircut.