An adorable piglet who thinks she’s a lamb after she was adopted by a group of sheep has been dubbed the real life ‘Babe’.
Gilt Alistair was the runt of her litter and was separated from her siblings to be hand reared amid fears she would not survive.
The little pig was kept in a pen at Houghall Farm , but kept breaking out to join the orphaned lambs next door.
Alistair’s owners thought she was a boy when she was born so gave her a male name.
The saddleback piglet now lives with the sheep full time and Keith Cook, a manager of the farm at East Durham College, which runs a number of Agricultural courses, says she believes she is one of them.
Keith, 49, said: ‘She’s a trans-species sheep. She wants to be a sheep and she’s going to live her life as a sheep.
‘The lambs have become her surrogate brothers and sisters.
‘She’s running around with them and playing with them. She stands at the hay rack and takes hay from it like them.
‘There’s some food that she has to have that’s different to the lambs but she does eat the hay and the sheep food, and she is just like a lamb in every other respect.’
Keith, who has worked at the farm for 18 years, explained that one of the students named the 13-week-old pig before they realised she was a girl.
She is also known as the ‘Sheep-pig of Houghall’ – a nickname with reference to the popular children’s book by Dick-King-Smith. Babe the Sheep Pig was also adapted into a popular film in 1995.
Keith added: ‘Alistair is just a name that’s grown and stuck.
‘One of the girls took a photo of the pig cuddling in with one of the lambs and it went everywhere.
‘It’s quite a novelty for people who come to the farm.
‘The photograph says it all really, you don’t often get that moment.
‘Alistair was the runt of the littler and when it was time for weaning we had to take her away from her group because her mother didn’t have enough milk left.
‘Alistair kept getting out of her pen and going to sleep with the lambs.
‘She won’t know anything else really. They will learn from each other.
‘When the time comes she will be put out into the field with the sheep. Once they establish a group, that’s that!’