To celebrate International Dog Day today, Blenheim Estate is showcasing its newest arrival, in the shape of three-month-old sheepdog Ben.
The tri-colour border collie puppy is being trained by Head Shepherd Charles Gerring alongside his three adult dogs.
However rather than fully-grown ewes, Ben is currently honing his skills on some chickens in Charles’ back garden.
“At the moment he’s only coming in at weekends and watching the other dogs as we won’t start proper training for a few more months,” said Charles.
“He is perfecting his herding, by rounding up the chickens in the garden and watching our two pet lambs who don’t seem to be afraid of him at all!” he added.
It won’t be too long before Ben will be joining Charles and the other sheepdogs full time as they herd Blenheim’s 1,700 flock of ewes across the ‘Capability’ Brown parkland.
Blenheim’s lambs are born later than many farms because their sheep are reared entirely on grass, largely staying within the Park walls and keeping them as naturally healthy and organic as possible.
“The grassland within this World Heritage Site is an idyllic area for our extensive flock to graze throughout the year. We lamb outdoors in order to give lambs the best spring grass and nutrients they need to grow into strong healthy animals,” said Charles.
The sheep, which graze Blenheim Palace parkland, are Scotch Mules; a hardy sheep used to being outside all year round, renowned as easy lambers and great mothers.
Find out more about Blenheim Palace here www.blenheimpalace.com