Photo gallery: Rare bagot goats born at Wells

These three Bagot goats, born within hours of each other on a smallholding in Wells, are the latest additions to this country's rarest native breed of goat.

As they sit snuggled up on a bale of hay, these little bundles of black and white fluff have no idea how special they are.

But the three Bagot goats, born within hours of each other on a smallholding in Wells, are the latest additions to this country's rarest native breed of goat.

And, with their owner (fairly) confident that they are all girls, they are set to play an important role in ensuring there are plenty more of their kind seen frolicking in fields in the future.

Twins Breeze and Blossom were born to Barbara at about 3pm on Monday and were quickly followed by their half-sister Blot, who was born to Maia just after 10am on Tuesday.

It brings the total number of Bagot goats owned by smallholder John Green, of Wells, to 10, after Beatrix came into the world last September.

Mr Green, who at one stage had 17 of the rare breed on his land, but swapped some for a llama, said: 'We think they are all female, which is really good. They are very rare. There are far fewer of them than there are giant pandas.'

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Bagot goats are classed as 'vulnerable' on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust's (RBST) 2011 watchlist.

Although this is a step up from their 'endangered' rating in 2010, it still means there are only between 300 and 500 breeding nannies left.

It makes them the rarest native UK breed of goat, with only the Golden Guernsey also appearing on the watchlist as a 'minority', indicating there are between 500 to 1,000 breeding females.

Claire Barber, conservation officer at the RBST, said that although it was true there were more giant pandas in existence than Bagot goats, it was not necessarily a fair comparison.

While giant pandas are a species with few genetic links to any other animal, Bagot goats are a breed of a wider, non-endangered species.

But she believes it is equally as important to protect them.

She said: 'If something this rare was a giant panda, people would be jumping up and down, making a scene.

'Because it's a domestic animal, people don't see the need for conservation, but they should be conserved alongside species like the giant panda.

'If you don't protect them, they will eventually become extinct.'

Mr Green, who also has sheep, ducks and a llama, said there was a good reason why Bagot goats were so rare.

'They are of no practical use for anything,' he said. 'They are too small for meat and too small for milk and they are not exactly tame.'

But the 49-year-old said he began keeping the goats in 2007 in order to help keep the breed alive.

He added: 'They really are beautiful animals. They are very affectionate and quite lovely to watch when they run together as a herd.

'It's like watching a moving black and white carpet run across the field.'

Legend has it that Richard the Lionheart brought the small black-headed animal to the country when he returned from the Crusades. King Richard II is thought to have later presented one of the goats to Sir John Bagot, of Blithfield Hall, Staffordshire, where the breed went on to live semi-wild on the estate for centuries.

Conservation officer Ms Barber, who said the goats' sole purpose was probably to look attractive in the grounds of stately homes, said: 'I think that's a really fascinating history which is certainly worth preserving.'

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