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Operation Fleece to tackle sheep thefts

Credit: Nick Potts/PA Archive/PA Images

Police have set up an operation aimed at targeting thieves who steal sheep.

Reports of recent thefts have included 100 sheep stolen from the Pennal area and the theft of 50 from a different farm in the last two weeks from the same area.

Other incidents have seen thefts of 40 sheep from the Bangor University Farm at Abergwyngregyn and this weekend the theft of 18 sheep from Llanfairfechan.

We now have detailed analytical data which has shown that in the past 12 months there have been over 20 separate incidents, which have involved the theft of up to a 1,000 sheep from various locations across North Wales.

– Sgt Rob Taylor, North Wales Police

History of Welsh sheep uncovered

Credit: Nick Potts/PA Archive/PA Images

They may have been domesticated 10,000 years ago but the genetic past of Welsh sheep has been uncovered by researchers at Aberystwyth University.

They studied eighteen native breeds and found four distinct groups.

Some breeds, like the Black Welsh Mountain Sheep, saw their genetic history mapped back to Scandinavia. They were brought here by the Vikings.

The Llandovery White Face saw its roots traced back to Roman times.

The study even found that one particular breed of sheep, exclusively from the Llyn peninsula in northwest Wales, can trace its genetics back to a single, small flock of sheep in Galway, Ireland from the early 19th century.

Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

“These findings provide the basis for future genome-wide association studies and a first step towards developing genomics assisted breeding strategies in the UK.”

– Sarah Beynon, Aberystwyth University


Welsh sheep help reclaim desert

Sheep from farms across Wales are helping a Middle Eastern country reclaim some of its desert. A sheikh in the United Arab Emirates has set up a farming experiment which aims to make his country more self sufficient in food. The farm includes a flock of sheep from a variety of breeds.

Warning about Rhododendron danger

Rhododendron Ponticum is poisonous to sheep. Credit: Snowdonia National Park Authority

Snowdonia National Park officers are asking farmers to be vigilant of their sheep around Rhododendron Ponticum as the snow thaws and signs of Spring emerge.

They say the green leaves of the invasive species are very appealing to sheep, especially when there's a food shortage on the ground.

Hungry sheep may eat the toxic plant. Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Archive/Press Association Images

But the leaves can kill the animals.

The areas where the plant's common include Mawddwy, South and North of the Mawddach, Vale of Ffestiniog, the Glaslyn and Gwynant areas and Betws y Coed.

Warning about Schmallenberg virus

Schmallenberg virus can cause malformations in lambs Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Welsh farmers are being warned that an increased number of malformed lambs and calves may be born next spring as a result of Schmallenberg virus (SBV).

The Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales urges farmers to be vigilant for signs of SBV which was first detected in Wales in September.

Dr Christianne Glossop said:

"We now have evidence of SBV infection across most, if not all counties in Wales, and we have also recently detected our first clinical case of SBV in a deformed lamb."