Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Real-life Babe the Pig herds sheep

A 2ft tall pig is hogging the limelight after a farmer discovered it had a talent for herding sheep.

Sue the Kunekune pig is learning the tricks usually done by man's best friend and is now being trained in a variety of farmyard skills.

And just like in the movie Babe, Sue is teaching the farmyard dogs a few tricks.

The six-month-old can 'give his trotter', run through tunnels, navigate round poles, climb ramps and even do a figure-eight.

His owner Wendy Scudamore, 51, introduced her pet to sheep and admits he could easily master herding them.

Sue had been intended for a life of breeding on the farm but took on a different role after he was was accidently castrated as a piglet.

Realising he had a talent for tricks his owners decided to teach him some useful farmyard skills, including sheep herding and agility training.

He was given the name Sue after the famous Johnny Cash song 'A Boy Named Sue'.

His famous connections continue as Sue is set to follow in the trotter steps of the film character 'Babe', the talking pig who learned to herd sheep.

Mrs Scudamore said she always knew Sue, who lives on the family farm in Herefordshire, was a special pig.

She said: 'Sue could easily herd sheep, if I used him with the dogs he would be able to copy what they were doing and could become a real-life Babe like in the film.

'He has been watching them through the fence and has even met them up close, although he was a little wary at first.

'Pigs are very intelligent and I would say Sue is easily as clever as a dog.'

Mrs Scudamore said Sue's talents were discovered after her daughter Lucy began training one the family's dogs in the garden.

'The pigs worked out that the dogs were getting treats for doing the obstacles so they started copying them,' she said.

But Sue proved so good at the tricks that he learnt faster than the dogs and his owners now plan to enter him in this summer's Royal Welsh Show's agility event.

'He is a very good specimen of the Kunekune breed and I mainly breed for breeding stock and have exported Kunes all over Europe, so he was destined to be a breeding boar,' Mrs Scudamore said.

'Due to a very unfortunate mix up at the vets he was mistakenly castrated.

'I felt very bad about this and decided not to pass him on to someone else but to try to use him myself in some other way.'

She insists pigs are easy to train with some of her porkers and that she has trained others for entertaining crowds.

'I decided to try Sue at the training and so far he has been a little star so he's on his way,' she said.

'Sue has fun with our dogs, the horses and the sheep, but he really likes playing with the cats because they jump on his back and scratch it.'

She also uses Sue and her other animals to help people with learning disabilities and behavioural problems at Barton Hill Animal Centre, near Kentchurch, Herefordshire.

Daily Mail

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