A dead sheep: the shepherd rents the sheep | Sunday newspaper

The 49-year-old has a total of 85 goats and sheep, he knows his animals, and wants no more. He says he does not want anything to do with “almost industrial sheep farming” from flocks of up to 1,500 heads. Leonardt, who gave the names of the animals, agrees. “It’s too much,” he says. He adds that he loves goats better than sheep:

“They are more playful and smarter.”

grazing herd

Black and white border collie Abby grazes the herd together on the edge of a meadow in the Ober Roden district of Rödermark in Hesse, while the cattle ranger dog Emil, a large, light-coloured mountain dog, lies comfortably in the grass. While the goats and sheep stand in the barn, here Metzger is looking for a paw, examining the nose there.

“The animals push each other, sometimes there are minor injuries. I have to take care of them.”

Metzger slays, too, but the Easter lamb trade is not his main occupation. He is mainly concerned with pastoralism and nature education. The authorities ask him about grazing difficult areas. These can be the edges of the forest, where the goal is to keep the forest open and push back invasive plants. Depending on the goal of care, he decides whether goats or sheep are more suitable. While the sheep focus on the grass, the goats sometimes eat the bark of trees and shrubs or gnaw the shoots.

Trained animal breeders also rent animals to utility companies on a daily or weekly basis, which have to maintain lawns, dams, or large lawns for their clients. “There are areas where sheep are not defeated,” Metzger says. For example, if a meadow area covered with large stones falls a little sharply, it is difficult to cut it manually.

The sheep do not care. They run and nibble on the grass where they find it. It is cheaper and more environmentally friendly for landowners to let the sheep eat rather than send people with machines to the site.

For thousands of years, people have considered sheep to be undemanding, easy to tame, and a good source of wool, milk, and meat. The beast appears about 140 times in the Bible. In Christian iconography, the Lamb of God is a symbol of Christ. Often carrying a red cross on a white background, the victory flag symbolizes the resurrection at Easter, to Christ’s victory over death, explains Reverend Karen Becker of Wackernheim.

Jesus is not only a sheep, but also a shepherd. The Bible says:

“I am the good shepherd, and I know my king, and I know me.” (…) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 14:10, 27).

Theologian Becker has a special relationship with sheep: until a few years ago, she owned a herd of sheep with about 30 animals, and even raised a lamb in her apartment. “Sheep are characters,” she says. Marcus Metzger knows that, too. One is stubborn, the other curious, some are confident, and some keep their distance.

The idea of ​​renting out his sheep came to him when a walker saw his flock, grinned and said he could use them in his garden. The sheep farmer drafted an offer and put it on his homepage. “Inquiries came from all over Germany,” he recalls, still amazed.

Sheep rent

However, he set himself a narrow radius in the Rhine-Main region. At first, families were among his clients. “They thought it was a good idea to have sheep in the garden for a week or two,” he says. But it did not pay off, the effort and income were disproportionate.

Metzger regularly receives visitors on his pastures. Groups of kids come in, get busy with animals, hit and scratch them. Metzger then explains that the twisted horns of Rakka sheep grow once a year until the age of four and that the animals belong to an endangered ancient Austro-Hungarian breed.

Until the career change, community breeder Elke Preising was one of those people who dropped sheep with groups of kids. Children aged six to 10 loved the trips, Pressing says, remembering her time at Fiskirchen Anglican parish. “A lot of kids have very little contact with animals,” she says. They wanted to know from Metzger what sheep eat, how long the lamb was in its mother’s womb and whether you could ride the sheep. “They were allowed to milk the goats and sometimes to feed the lamb from the bottle,” she recalls. The butcher came to the prayer of thanksgiving accompanied by a sheep and a goat.

The “godfathers” of some of the sheep also visit the animals regularly. The butcher keeps them informed of where the flock is. Because with the sponsorship they get a “fixed price to visit the sheep”. Dealing with animals, observing them, petting them, “That’s a reason for you,” Metzger is convinced.

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