The farm: “We are a beef and sheep farm on 600 acres, where my husband Robert and his brother Stephen purchase cattle as stores around 18 months of age for finishing. We buy all breeds, but Angus would dominate. On the sheep side, we run 300 Mule ewes with their lambs sold fat. I run a flock of around 40 Pedigree Valais Blacknose sheep. Our son Harry, who is seven, helps on the farm when he is not at school.”

Valais Blacknose: “I first seen Valais Blacknose sheep on TV and liked their laidback and curious nature. I found a local breeder and bought my first two ewes and a ram in 2019, then established my own flock under the Slieveroe prefix, after my grandfather’s townland. The flock has built up to around 40 head with 17 breeding ewes. I would like to build ewe numbers to around 30, along with a strong show team of approximately 10 animals.”

Breed society/club: “There was no breed society or club in Northern Ireland when I started the flock. Another breeder and myself decided to set up the Valais Blacknose Club NI. I serve as the joint chair. It has been vital for growing the breed in the province.”

Showing at Balmoral: “When I started my flock, there weren’t many breeders around with Valais Blacknose sheep. So I began showing my animals to promote the flock and the breed in general. This year, there are over 55 sheep entered for Balmoral Show, more than double last year’s entry. I will be showing six sheep from my own flock across the range of classes. A lot of work goes into preparing sheep for Balmoral, from shearing as early as December, to washing and feeding animals to have them in peak condition. After Balmoral, we do six other regional shows.”

Social side: “I really enjoy showing sheep. There is a great social side to it as well, with plenty of support and laughs among all the breeders.”

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