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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 October 2006, 07:42 GMT 08:42 UK
Sheep headache for island farmers
Farmer and sheep on Bardsey
There is just not enough room for all the sheep to winter on Bardsey
Around 700 sheep are stranded on a tiny island off the Gwynedd coast.

The animals were born on Bardsey Island off the Llyn Peninsula and should have been shipped to the mainland in August in time for the winter.

But a combination of bad weather and transport problems mean they are stuck on Bardsey, which is 1.5 miles (2.5km) long and half a mile (1km) across.

Farmers David and Libby Barnden said they are at their wits' ends coping with their extended flock.

"We've had 700 lambs effectively marooned here by various problems one of which is obviously the weather," said Mr Barnden.

"That's an awful lot of sheep for a 440 acre lump of rock especially when the weather is starting to deteriorate, we're getting well into the autumn now.

There's a limited amount of grazing here and that really is all required for the ewes
David Barnden

Libby Barnden, who is being helped by sheepdog Lass, added: "It's just so frustrating because there's no end in sight, we've spent all our time chasing the sheep around trying to keep them in - it's just a disaster."

The stranded sheep were born on the island earlier this year and which should have been shipped off the island in August.

"Yeah, it's been one of those years, definitely been one of those years," admitted Mr Barnden.

"You know, there have been problems with the boat when they've been resolved then the weather's decided to throw its hat into the ring."

The weather around the island is notorious - even in the calm months of the summer there can be days at a time when the boats cannot make the three mile journey.

Bardsey Island
Boats have now arrived at the island but the sheep are still there

Such a large number of animals simply cannot survive on the island over the winter, said Mr Barnden.

"Once the weather really begins to turn nasty, the salt starts to burn the grass off.

"There's a limited amount of grazing here and that really is all required for the ewes. There's no spare, there's no option to leave them here all winter."

Coupled with that, the young ram lambs are already maturing but strict breeding regulations mean they must be kept well away from the ewes.

"I've lost a lot of sleep over the last few weeks I don't mind admitting, " he said, adding they were kept busy stopping the animals escaping.

"It's difficult going to bed every night and waking up the next morning, remembering where you were for day after day and then that runs into weeks - frustrating to put it mildly.

His wife added: "The weather could keep blowing for weeks and weeks and weeks and then well, Dave's been tearing his hair out."

Monday's good weather meant a boat capable of transporting the sheep has now arrived on Bardsey.

But with more strong winds forecast, the Barndens said their problems were still far from over.




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"That's an awful lot of sheep for a 440 acre lump of rock"



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