Rare arrival down on the farm

Becky Burniston with the first born Valais Blacknose lamb.
Becky Burniston with the first born Valais Blacknose lamb.

A farming family near Ripon believes it is the first in the region to produce a new-born rare breed lamb not commonly found outside its native Switzerland.

Described as docile and good natured, the Valais Blacknose sheep on Becky and Richard Burniston’s farm near Newby Hall is proving the perfect fit.

The couple, who are well-known for keeping reindeer, have found their 35-strong flock of the Swiss breed – which is one of the largest in the UK – are ideal additions to their mobile educational farm which they take to schools across the region to teach children about agriculture.

Mother-of-two Mrs Burniston, of Little Givendale Farm, Skelton-on-Ure, said: “We are one of the founder importers of the breed and the only breeders in Yorkshire. It has taken me two years to get the breed over and it has taken the country by storm.

“The Swiss seem really proud of their breed and want to keep them confined to their country but time has paid off, or so it seems, as we have a flock of fabulous quality sheep now.”

Mrs Burniston has been around sheep all her life having grown up on a hill farm in Upper Wharfedale. She knew what kind of sheep she was looking for.

“We first noticed them when watching a countryside TV programme and we completely fell in love with them. Their main quality for us is their general good nature, which is fabulous in schools with children getting to really interact with the animals.

“My children can happily walk them around or gather them in because they are so docile.”