'World's cutest sheep' to make another appearance at Canterbury Show

An unusual breed of sheep is expected to be a big hit when it makes another appearance at this week's 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.

The 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.

The Valais Blacknose is described as "the world's cutest sheep'
The Valais Blacknose is described as "the world's cutest sheep' Photo credit: Supplied

It's the second year at the show for breeders Sally and Lindsay Strathdee who say the sheep's cute appearance is matched by their warm temperament, which is "more like dogs than sheep."

The Motueka couple fell in love with the breed after spotting it on the internet.

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.  

Sally Strathdee said plans to export to breeders in the US this year had been slower than they had hoped due to the importation restrictions. However, things were going well overall.

"We do have semen from two rams over there and Canada, so that is positive," she said.

Boosting their genetic pool had also been a highlight.

"We imported more embryo this year from three different bloodlines in Scotland to increase the genetic pool in New Zealand."

Strathdee said they had good success with a breeding-up programme, mating the Valais Blacknose with an English Leister sheep.

"We have an edge now as we have five different bloodlines."

Meanwhile, the Valais Blacknose sheep's cuteness continues to be a drawcard.

"Everyone is sold on what they look like, and their temperament."

The New Zealand Agricultural Show runs Wednesday, November 13 to Friday, November 15.