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Learning animal husbandry skills at Highdowns gives a sense of purpose


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A rural service for people with learning disabilities in Cornwall is learning animal husbandry skills by helping preserve a rare breed of sheep.

Individuals who live at Highdowns farm near Camborne look after a small stock of Ryeland rams, a breed that dates back 700 years.

Highdowns is home to up to 14 people with learning disabilities, mental health issues and parallel complex needs.

Manager Jenna Betts says the Ryelands have had a major impact on the people who live in the four properties on the 10-acre site.

“They have responsibility for putting sheep out in the morning, feeding them and providing them with clean water and putting them to bed in the barn.

“We find it gives them a real sense of purpose. They are also gaining valuable animal husbandry and farming skills while working out in the fresh air.

“The animals are small, docile and ideal for small sites and easy on fences compared with many sheep breeds.”

Ryeland sheep were first introduced at Highdowns in 2013 when the former farm was brought back into service.

The rams are registered as Highdowns stock with the Ryeland Flock Book Society and are exhibited at local agricultural shows.

In addition to sheep, Highdowns boasts 40 ducks, numerous rabbits and two peacocks and one peahen and sells eggs laid by the farm’s free range chickens.

The farm also has a polytunnel where people who live on the farm will be growing their own fruit and vegetables which they hope to sell.

Ryeland sheep are among the oldest established British sheep breeds and are believed to be derived from the Spanish Merino.

Queen Elizabeth I was reputedly a fan of Ryeland wool. A pair of stockings given her as a gift pleased her so much she swore from then on she would only wear clothing woven from their fleece.

Regard is the UK’s fourth biggest private provider of supported living and specialist residential services in the UK for people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and acquired brain injury.

Highdowns


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Specialism: Learning Disabilities, Mental Health issues and other concurrent complex needs. Individuals with Asperger’s and/or other Autistic spectrum conditions.