A sheep which grew a massive, matted coat of wool after being left to run wild for years has finally been rescued - and had 35 kilos of wool shorn off, writes Sarah Lumley.

The sheep, which has been named Baarack by the animal sanctuary that took him in, took almost an hour to have his thick, tangled coat shorn off - compared to an average sheep shearing which takes just a few minutes.

Volunteers at Edgar's Mission, in Lancefield, Australia, where the sheep is recovering, predicted the poor animal had "at least five years" of wool growth weighing him down and obscuring his vision.

Baarack is now adjusting to his new life at the Australian sanctuary, free of his heavy woolly coat - and staff at Edgar's Mission say he has been brought "Baarack from the brink".

Baarack the sheep after being sheared of its huge 35 kilo coat of wool

Baarack the sheep after being sheared of its huge 35 kilo coat of wool

Sharing Baarack's story on Facebook, Edgar's Mission said: "We couldn't believe there was actually a sheep alive under all that wool.

"It was a struggle to comprehend that beneath that convoluted moving mass of matted fleece, adorned with countless sticks, twigs and insects, which caused his saviours to look twice, was not Australia’s answer to the yeti - but a sheep."

Baarack was found earlier this month, wondering alone in bushland in Victoria, around 40 miles north of Melbourne, Australia.

Edgar's Mission wrote: "Each day his wool grew longer and longer, and his plight more desperate, while his chances of survival grew thinner and thinner.

"Many people do not realise that wool can easily morph into a cumbersome fleece that continues to grow throughout the life of a sheep.

"The wild mouflon, from whom sheep are descended, had a naturally shedding, oft-times multi-coloured (great for camouflage) fleece.

"This fleece grew and then shed according to the season - a great evolutionary adaption which served them well.

"Then came domestication, and through selective breeding by humans, there are now many breeds of sheep who require annual shearing to ensure a good standard of welfare for these animals.

"Failure to do so results in sheep living at a great disadvantage, with often life-threatening consequences.

"But Baarack knew none of this, for all he wanted to do was live. And, seizing each moment, he did.

"Having endured such a state whilst the earth completed her orbit of the sun several times, Baarack had somehow eked out an existence.

"He found nourishment in the tender shoots of grass that had determinedly made their way up through the forest floor, and seized opportunistic finds of water pooled in puddles to soothe his parched throat - such is the stoicism of sheep.

"Now relieved of that fleece and its 35.4 kilos of burden, Baarack is indeed lighter in more ways than one.

"No longer shall he struggle for food and shelter, no longer will he be at the mercy of predators or the elements, and no longer will he be forgotten.

"A few shearing nicks now mark his thin body, along with an ulcer, the legacy of his once wool-blind state.

"But this will heal - and Baarack can now see the world more clearly."