We’ve heard of nanny goats, now there’s a sheep to babysit your horses – or at least help with grazing.

Easycare sheep are a “low-maintenance” breed that do not need shearing and are being promoted to horse owners to help control paddocks.

Maternal Sheep Group, launched last month to promote the breed, is a collective of 20 breeders from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Easycare sheep, a Welsh hybrid, grows enough wool over the winter to protect itself against the weather, but sheds it in spring.

The breeders also claim their sheep have fewer foot problems and lamb easily.

Sheep grazed with horses can contribute to controlling worms in equines – horse worms picked up by sheep die, cutting the number ingested by horses.

Vet Barry Sangster has 70 Easycare ewes and said: “The sheep give horse owners an excellent opportunity to utilise excess grass or rough ground.

“We have selected our flocks to reduce the work required.”

For more information visit: www.maternalsheep.co.uk.

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (6 September 2012)