25 July 1997

Small-scale sheep from man who knows

JEREMY HUNT will need no introduction to readers of farmers weekly and his wealth of agricultural writing experience serves him well in producing this guide for the first time sheep keeper.

Each chapter is subtitled with a brief list of its contents which will aid the reader to quickly make reference to particular points.

The illustrations are mostly simple line diagrams with some black and white photographs. With the authors interest in a variety of breeds, perhaps some colour photos would have been nice.

The text begins with a brief description of various breeds and crossbreeds and guidelines on how to choose a suitable variety. The importance of preserving a gene pool with rare breeds is also emphasised.

The book contains many "rule o thumb" guidelines, but is emphatic that as much skill is required for a small flock as for a commercial concern. There is no substitute for experience to develop this skill.

Lambing is perhaps the time of most anxiety for the first- time shepherd, but the book outlines many checks and measures, such as chlostridial injections and worm drenches, that should be undertaken before the event to prevent problems.

Sheep have a habit of developing disorders and ill-health, and there are many texts solely on this subject. There is a basic chapter covering such calamities but the main advice for certain problems was to pay high regard to additional aid from a vet, and learn thoroughly as problems occur.

Many owners of small flocks will want to show their stock and there is a chapter dedicated to this. It includes techniques for training sheep to perform in the ring. JT

*Small Scale Sheep Keeping by Jeremy Hunt, Faber and Faber (£7.99).