American family planned for Heacham’s Bart the rare black sheep

USA rams aren't up to the job - so Homer steps in to help

Bart the rare black sheep adopted by staff at Norfolk Lavender could soon have siblings in America where the rams just aren't doing the job.

The Hungarian screw-horned flock at the Heacham rare breeds site has a pure blood line and young Bart was adopted by staff when his parents - Marge and Homer - rejected him shortly after he was born in February.

The purity of his father's line, and proof that he can sire offspring, has now seen links forged with an American rare breeds farm where male fertility within the flock of Hungarian screw-horns, also known as Raka, is down to just 30 pc.

'The woman from America was practically leaping with delight when she heard about Bart and Homer,' said Norfolk Lavender's site manager Peter Mortin.

'They just aren't breeding over there and with such a limited gene pool it is very important to maintain the purity of the line,' he added.

Mr Mortin was contacted by the Missouri ranch when Bart's fame hit the headlines after the EDP told how he had been adopted by staff and was often to be found in the offices of the company.

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'He's a bit bigger now, but doing really well. He is just starting to grow the huge horns that they have, but has managed to break the end off one already, although it will re-grow,' he said.

Bart, who even has his own Facebook page and Twitter site, spends more time in his own outdoor pen now, but is still prone to following mail order team member Lyn Smith around as she bottle-fed him from the start.

'He comes when we call him and is really easy to handle. Not like his dad who is a real handful to deal with,' said Mr Mortin.

But it is Homer who could hold the key to Bart's own future as Mr Mortin is hoping that if the ram passes all the tests, a sample of his sperm could be swapped for a frozen embryo of a female Raka who would be a girlfriend for Bart.

'It is incredibly difficult to export live animals and there are a lot of checks and paperwork to go through before any sperm can be sent to America where it will be frozen in liquid nitrogen before being used,' said Mr Mortin.

A frozen embryo sent to Norfolk could be implanted in a completely different breed of ewe at Heacham, but the lamb would be pure Raka and hopefully create a mate for Bart so he can go on to create his own flock.

Mr Mortin said it was planned to develop the flock at Heacham and allow it to graze a wetland area at the site and effectively manage it for other wildlife to come in.

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