Super cute sheep a hit at Ag Show

An unusual breed of sheep are proving a hit at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch.

The Valais Blacknose have been described by breeders as possibly the world's cutest sheep, due to their black faces, ears and feet, shaggy fringes and white fluffy fleece.

New Zealand breeders Sally and Lindsay Strathdee say their appearance is matched by their warm temperament, which is "more like dogs than sheep".

Mr Strathdee told The AM Show's Aziz Al-Sa'afin their cuteness is a huge selling point around the world, while host Duncan Garner noted they looked like 'sheep panda'.

The Strathdee's first fell in love with the Valais Blacknose breed five years ago, after making the sea-change from Christchurch to Motueka.

Ms Strathdee, a former midwife, spotted the breed on the internet and was immediately smitten.

They joined forces with friend and business partner Christine Reed from the Wairarapa and imported the valuable animals as embryos from top, prize-winning flocks in Scotland and the UK.  

Ms Reed was in charge of the selection of the genetics and interpretation of the importation rules.

Today they are the owners of a flock, which combined with Ms Reed's, will number around 50 Valais once lambing is complete. 

New Zealand is currently home to an estimated 100 purebred Valais Blacknose sheep and Sally says they're in hot demand, but notes "they're an expensive hobby - some people sink their money into jet boats whereas we're investing in sheep." 

To assist enthusiasts into this breed as a more affordable option they have also crossbred Valais rams with English Leicester ewes to enable people to start a breeding programme.

Lambs from these are also at the show.

The Valais Blacknose are described as 'the cutest sheep in the world.'
The Valais Blacknose are described as 'the cutest sheep in the world.' Photo credit: Supplied

The Valais Blacknose breed is native to Switzerland, where they traditionally spend their summer months frolicking in the Swiss Alps.

Their popularity has skyrocketed around the world, with Britain's Valais Blacknose Sheep Society proclaiming them the fastest-growing sheep breed in the UK.

No doubt that will be matched in New Zealand with interest in the breed growing.

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