'Oldest sheep' in the world dies on Lewis in Western Isles

Owner John Maciver: "She passed away and I wouldn't say peacefully. I found her at the bottom of a rock"

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A ewe thought to have been a contender for the title of world's oldest sheep has died after falling off a cliff.

An ear tag on the blackface ewe, nicknamed Methuselina, showed that it was 25 years and 11 months old.

In 2009, her owner John Maciver, of North Tolsta, Lewis, put her longevity down to her still having most of her teeth, allowing her to graze easily.

That same year the recognised holder of the world's oldest sheep title died at the age of 23.

Called Lucky, she died in a heatwave in Australia.

Mr Maciver said Methuselina had also met an unfortunate end.

He said: "The sad news is Methuselina is no more.

"She passed away and I wouldn't say peacefully. I found her at the bottom of a rock.

"She had gone over a cliff and met her demise that way at the grand old age of 25 years and 11 months."

Lucky raised by Delrae Westgarth set the Guinness record in 2007 and was a celebrity in her home town of Lake Bolac, near Melbourne.

The Polwarth-Dorchester cross was hand-reared from birth after being abandoned by her mother. She went on to have 35 offspring of her own.

Frank and Delrea Westgarth with Lucky at Lake Bolac, June 16, 2007 Lucky was raised by Delrae Westgarths near Melbourne in Australia

Guinness World Records said that since Lucky's death it had been actively looking for a contender for world's oldest living sheep.

It was understood that Mr Maciver had not applied for the recognition for his ewe.

According to Guinness World Records, the oldest age recorded for a sheep so far was 28 years and 51 weeks.

The crossbred sheep was kept at Taliesin, near Aberystwyth in Wales.

The sheep gave birth to a healthy lamb in 1988 at the age of 28, after lambing successfully more than 40 times. She died in January 1989.

A spokeswoman said: "The latest oldest sheep living was Lucky, who died on November 2009.

"Since the death of Lucky, Guinness World Records has been actively looking for a contender to the title of 'oldest sheep living' any owner who wishes to make a claim can do it online at www.guinnessworldrecords.com."

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