Ripon farm’s rare arrival as lambing season starts

Becky Burniston has bred what she believes to be Yorkshire's first homebred Valais Blacknose lamb.
Becky Burniston has bred what she believes to be Yorkshire's first homebred Valais Blacknose lamb.
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A NORTH Yorkshire farming family believes it is the first in the region to produce a new-born rare breed lamb not commonly found outside of its native Switzerland.

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

The couple, who are well-known locally for keeping reindeers, have found their 35-strong flock - which is one of the largest in the UK - of the Swiss breed 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; more so than I have found with other native hill breeds which I was brought up with.”

The Burnistons flock of Valais Blacknose came directly from Switzerland and their breeding program has yielded results.

“Originally we imported some ewes with young lambs at foot but this baby (pictured) is one of the first to be born on our farm and the first in Yorkshire.”