A REAL-life "sheep-pig" is settling into life as one of the flock after being adopted by a group of lambs.

Female piglet Alistair is now firmly apart of the flock at the farm at East Durham College’s Houghall campus, on the outskirts of Durham city.

Nicknamed the sheep-pig of Houghall – a reference to the popular children's book by Dick King-Smith – Alistair, a 13-week-old saddleback, has been melting the hearts of students at the college with her antics.

The piglet ended up being part of the gang after she kept on breaking out of the pen she was being kept in so she could be fed by hand and after living with the lambs for about a month, now thinks she is a sheep.

The Northern Echo:

Alistair, who has been nicknamed 'the sheep-pig of Houghall'

Keith Cook, who is the manager at the farm at Houghall, said: “She was the runt of the litter and when the rest of them came to be weaned she wasn’t ready.

“The mother didn’t have any milk to give her so we took her and brought her down to keep with some orphaned lambs which were getting fed by hand.

“She has her own pen but she kept getting out and going in with the lambs so she lives with them now.

“She thinks she’s a sheep now. The sheep are fine with it – they all cuddle up together and play together.”

He added: “They’re very intelligent and like to socialise and be with other animals. These are its surrogate brothers and sisters really.

“All animals need social interaction. You can’t have them on their own so this has worked out pretty well.

“We don’t often have them in together. We get different groups of the same species but not the interspecies.”

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The piglet likes to chow down on the lamb’s hay and enjoys nothing more than playing with her ovine friends.

Mr Cook, who has worked at Houghall for about 18 years, said the college was planning to keep Alistair to breed from when she is older.

He said: “We mainly have middle whites but we have a couple of saddlebacks to show the students some different breeds.

“We’ll keep her for breeding because it’s nice to have a friendly one so we can handle her a bit more easily.”

The college, which offers a range of agricultural courses, has 200 acres of crops, 200 acres of grazing land and a herd of suckler cows as well as its pigs, sheep and turkeys at the campus off the A177, near Durham.

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