Meet the rare woolly wonder who just loves to be fussed

Fortuna is the first Swiss Valais lamb to be born at Church Farm, Stow Bardolph. Picture: Ian Burt

Fortuna is the first Swiss Valais lamb to be born at Church Farm, Stow Bardolph. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Everyone is talking about this new arrival at a west Norfolk farm.

Fortuna is the first lamb born to a family of Valais blacknose sheep, a rare breed originating from the Valais region of the Swiss Alps.

Four female Valais sheep arrived at Church Farm, in Stow Bardolph, near Downham Market, last May.

They were all born in the Swiss Alps, and were given very Swiss pet names in keeping with their native land: Edelweiss, Emmental, Heidi and Yodel.

Edelweiss gave birth to Fortuna, a female lamb, at about 7.30am on Tuesday.

The proud father is Zurich, a ram the rare-breeds farm park bought from the Tomintoul farm in the Scottish Highlands.

The other three females are also pregnant, with new arrivals expected within the next few weeks.

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With their fluffy woolly coats, distinctive black faces and matching knee patches, the Valais sheep, which usually graze on steep and stony slopes, certainly stand out from the crowd.

Assistant farm manager Kate Farr said: 'It's great news. Edelweiss is fine. She's a lovely, strong mum with lots of milk for her little lamb.

'Both are in the show-yard on view to the public, and are proving very popular with visitors.

'The Valais sheep are all very friendly. They like to be scratched under their chins, and they look into your eyes imploring you to do it. They love the public and are firmly loved in return.'

Farm manager Paul Furness said they were a very rare breed of sheep, even in Switzerland, where they were only found in a particular region.

There are only about 200 breeding females in the UK.

He described their nature as docile, but also inquisitive and friendly.

Do you own a rare animal breed? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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