World's most expensive sheep: Meet Double Diamond who sold for £367,500 at Scottish sale
For the internationally-acclaimed ruminant, named Double Diamond, requires his home comforts year round to make sure he’s top of his game during the breeding season.
With testicles stretching a whopping 36cm in circumference, the Texel tup is set to father about 750 lambs this year alone.
Born from a prestigious ewe and a £65,000 sire called Garngour Crossman, Double Diamond epitomises the creme de la creme of Texel sheep.
So much so that the 11-month-old eclipsed his father’s champion status and sold to a consortium of sheep farmers for an eye-watering 350,000 guineas (£367,500) in Lanark last year – the highest priced sheep in the UK and probably the world.
Owned by three different breeders the hench woollyback, weighing about 120 kilos and standing three and half feet tall, switches between his multiple homes - one in Scotland and two in England.
Knowledge of his location however is kept a secret only known to a select few.
Jeff Aiken, who has called himself Double Diamond’s ‘very own Kevin Costner’ in a reference to his bodyguard role, is one of the tup’s owners.
Proud to say the least, the farmer describes the ram as “the best thing he’s ever seen.”
“Every now and then a special one comes along, and for us, it was Double Diamond,” he said, still sounding chuffed with his purchase five months on.
“He’s quite something to look at.”
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but for sheep breeders, this Texel has won the hearts of many.
“Everyone wanted him at that August sale last year. The three of us sharing him decided we were going to stop at that price and then they called no more, so he was ours.”
But that defined jawline and toned torso is not for all eyes to see. Mr Aiken, farm manager of the Procter's flock, said parading Double Diamond in public could cause the animal stress and affect his performance.
“You wouldn’t show an animal of his value,” he said.
“He might get spooked being away from home and people would want to touch him and he wouldn’t like that.
“He needs to be relaxed and in peace. People come to him, he doesn’t go to them.”
Not being paraded in the public eye however does not mean the pedigree sheep isn’t pampered at home.
Mr Aiken has special “biscuit” dye for his wool and “whitening” shampoo for his legs and head.
“It’s quite common to use these on Texels, it helps their heads stand out a bit more against the coloured wool. It certainly makes him look very dear.”
But it’s not all about looks with Double Diamond. The pulchritudinous beast is a serious prodigy for reproduction.
“I am going to get 250 lambs from him this year and the other two owners will probably get the same,” Mr Aiken said.
Being in the top one percent for estimated breeding value - estimates of an animals' genetic merit - Mr Aiken said he is looking forward to seeing Double Diamond’s offspring and naming them.
“The ewes are due to give birth in February,” he said.
“Each year the lambs are called names beginning with a certain letter. Last year it was D so this year is E.
“It’s impossible to tell what we will call our best looking one at the moment, you need to see the lamb first before deciding. It’s just like having children.”
Some mating occurs naturally, but when the ewes are not in season, Double Diamond has his sperm harvested by scrupulous professionals drafted in to make sure the task is handled with utmost care and precision.
Despite his celebrity status and jaw-dropping price tag, the impressive ruminant lives a fairly modest lifestyle.
He eats haylage and sheep feed in the winter and grass in the warmer months.
“As long as he eats, drinks and does his business then he’s all good,” said Mr Aiken.
“All the animals on the farm get the same treatment, they’re just as important as each other.”
After all, Double Diamond - a Midas of the sheep community as it were - has increased the value of all Mr Aiken’s ewes just by mating with them.
The golden guns earned the farmer £46,000 at a recent sale in Lanark where he sold one ewe carrying a pair of the tup's lambs.
With certain body parts exposed to the elements, it's important to keep the expecting sire indoors during the winter months, while in the spring and summer he’s outside in the company of one or two other males.
“The farms he stays at are very secure,” Mr Aiken added.
“And he’s always in a place where you’re walking past so that you can see him.”
Keeping in touch over a Whatsapp group aptly named ‘Double Diamond’, the three farmers share pictures and daily updates on their treasured Texel.
Yet, while the pedigree sheep may have united the breeders, he has also landed them in a fierce competition to see which one of Double Diamond’s lambs will be crowned the next world record.
John Yates, chief executive of the Texel Society said: “In any breed there are sheep with the combination of genetics, performance and phenotype to be highly sought after.
“With performance figures in the top one percent of the breed and many breeders believing him to be one of the best Texels of recent years, Double Diamond is just such a sheep and as the most popular breed in the UK the best Texels often earn premium prices, just as Double Diamond did.”
Double Diamond is the highest priced sheep in the UK with Deveronvale Perfection coming in second place selling for £231,000 in 2009.
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