Shropshire Star

Shropshire homestead welcomes three more of the 'world's cutest sheep'

Three more of the 'world's cutest sheep' have been born on a smallholding on the outskirts of Newport.

Karen McQuattie with one of the adult sheep

After being featured on BBC's Countryfile, the fluffy-looking Valais sheep shot to fame for their unique and adorable appearance.

Acknowledged widely as the world's cutest sheep breed, Valais Blacknose sheep are famous for their shaggy coats, spiral horns and unmistakable black faces.

In addition to its face, black spots are found on the Blacknose’s knees, hocks and feet.

The cuties are also highly prized for their wool, with their coarse coats used for mattress stuffing and carpets.

Originating in the mountainous Valais region of Switzerland, the hardy sheep can thrive in a variety of climates and landscapes.

The three latest additions to Karen's flock were born in April

Karen McQuattie fell in love with the adorable animals around two years ago and keeps a small flock on her homestead on the outskirts of Newport.

"We actually got them to help eat off the grass," Karen explained, "but they don't eat the grass! But I've always loved them, so we thought we'd have a go at breeding them."

Valais Blacknose sheep were endangered in the late 19th century, and in the 1930s and '40s bouts of tuberculosis and brucellosis almost decimated the population.

But in the 1960s the breed was admitted to the Swiss Sheep Breeding Association and breeders began to protect the species.

By 1983, there were around 10,000 left, but an increase in popularity has seen their numbers flourish in recent years, and in 2014 the first Valais was born in Britain.

Not only are they known for being the cutest-looking sheep breed, Karen said, they are also the friendliest.

"They're more like dogs than they are like sheep," Karen said: "In Switzerland, they live in the mountains, and in winter the shepherds keep them inside their houses so they've almost been domesticated.

Karen McQuattie and Rod Wildman with lambs Klarice, Kookie and King

"You can lead them and sit with them, they hug you and paw when you stop fussing them. Normally sheep run away, but these run towards you."

This year, Karen's flock has grown by three, as she welcomed youngsters King, Klarice and Kookie.

Klarice was born with a rare genetic mutation, which has caused her colours to flip. Instead of being white with a black face, she is black with a white face.

Karen shares videos of her growing flock on social media @katmcquattie on Tiktok or Facebook as 'Wildheart Valais Blacknose'.