In brief

  • An IT networks engineer has set up an interactive sheep feeder that converts crypto donations into alfalfa pellets.
  • To feed the sheep, users donate Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin or XRP.
  • The sheep feeder is live-streamed on Twitch and YouTube. Users can control the cameras and call the sheep in from the field.

On a small plot of land in the Czech Republic, Karel and Kamila Böhm have a small flock of small sheep. And these small sheep love crypto.

Of course, the way to a sheep’s affections is through its stomach, so IT network engineer Karel has set up a crypto-powered interactive sheep feeder. Donations of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency are converted into alfalfa pellets; the action is live-streamed on Twitch, so donors can watch the antics of the sheep as they scramble for the feed.

Sheepish antics can be viewed from a variety of camera angles. (Image: Karel Böhm)

A donation of 50 Twitch “bits” ($0.60) paid for in Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), or Ripple’s XRP triggers the tap in the sheep shed to release the tasty morsels. Or users can contribute $0.50 in crypto directly by scanning a QR code on the livestream, or donating to one of the wallet addresses Böhm has supplied. 

Iota downtime threatened to leave sheep alfalfa-less

Böhm introduced the five popular cryptocurrencies last month, and has also set up payment with Bitcoin’s scaling solution, the Lightning Network (LN). If they have a Lightning wallet, users need only scan the QR code, speeding things up for both Bitcoin-loving humans and sheep.

The engineer told Decrypt that he started his crypto experiment in 2018 to help his wife care for the eight Ouessant sheep she adopted. But the project began with another cryptocurrency altogether—Iota, which has been designed for the Internet of Things.  It was originally dubbed the “SheepTangle,” after the network's distributed ledger, the Tangle.

Donors can activate an alarm to call the sheep in from the field to be fed. (Image: Karel Böhm)

However, when the Iota Foundation switched off the network in February following a hack, (it’s due to come back on next week) Böhm didn’t want to abandon the experiment, so he cast his net wide.

But when asked which cryptocurrency brings in the most donations, he was coy. He said that the project hadn’t been running for long enough to establish that, and users were currently only funding around 20 feeds a day. Pressed, he told Decrypt that ETH, LTC and BTC LN, were currently the cryptocurrencies most used. 

A crypto-fuelled wildlife sanctuary

Scene of the all the action: the sheep shed in the couple's back yard. (Image: Karel Böhm)

As well as feeding the sheep, users can also earn “sheep points” just by watching the live feed. And there are special bonuses for watch streaks and for participating in “a raid” on the sheep shed, when it’s cleaned out. 

Not only that, donors can activate an alarm to call the sheep in from the field to be fed, and switch camera views to get the best angle on the ensuing scramble for alfalfa. 

Böhm is now working on an “apple drop” feature, “which sheep also love,” he said. The sheep continue to eat their staples, hay and grass, so the additional food is a treat. 

Böhm also adheres to strict sheep feeding hours, from 8-20 CET time, and said that the system is designed to deliver a maximum of 100 feed drops per day, before feeding is stopped.

“There is limitation and [the] whole solution is designed for sheep safety,” so they’re not overfed or fed during sleeping hours.

The sheep shed can’t really be described as a farm. Ouessant sheep are some of the smallest in the world.  The sheep—Vlnka, Pepinka, Paja, Mufi, Marii, Jannet, Kiki and Juliana—provide no milk, and little wool, so the couple make no money from the enterprise. They also look after five injured birds: three wild buzzards and two hawks.

The latter feed on chicks. Thankfully, Böhm has no plans to instal a live feed in their cage.