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‘World’s Cutest Sheep’ Go On Show In Carlisle

The first show outside Switzerland of one of the world’s rarest breeds of sheep is being held in Carlisle.

The Valais blacknose is so unusual most farmers outside the Alpine nation were not aware of the breed until recently.

But its distinctive looks, which have seen it called the cutest sheep in the world, has seen the breed’s popularity rise and there are now about 400 in the UK.

The show is being held at Harrison and Hetherington Cattle Market.

Jamie Wood, who has about 60 blacknoses on his farm at Whittingham which is also home to 3,000 other sheep and 200 cattle, said the Swiss have been rearing the breed for about 300 years.

The Northumberland farmer said: “No-one outside of Switzerland knew these sheep even existed until two years ago because they spend the winter months inside and the summer living above glaciers in the Swiss mountains.

“A picture of one was put on Facebook which was shared millions of times, I saw it and thought what on earth is that? I just had to get one.”

Mr Wood, a member of the Valais Blacknose Sheep Society UK, which is organising the show, said it took time to earn the trust of the Swiss farmers before they were willing to sell their sheep outside of their homeland.

He said: “The blacknose is a very iconic animal for them, they are very patriotic about it and don’t want to see the breed diminished.

“Because they have only ever been reared by hand they are a very kind breed, very good natured and docile.”

The event is designed to show off the breed but also provide a grade in the UK for the animals to be judged against.

Seven Swiss judges have been flown over especially to assess the British Valais blacknoses.

Mr Wood said: “It is all about how they look, this is not an animal for commercial farming, it is a real speciality.

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