Win­ton charm­ers

The Southland Times - - Front Page - Jamie Searle [email protected]

Three Valais Blac­knose, con­sid­ered by some ex­perts to be the cutest breed of sheep in the world, have been en­tered for the Win­ton A&P Show on Satur­day.

Grace and Rachelle Keen will be ex­hibit­ing three Valais first cross hoggets nick­named Molly, Rosie and Minty. The trio live on the fam­ily farm at Win­ton and are owned by Grace, 18.

The hoggets are out of two English Le­ices­ter ewes who were in lamb when given to Grace as a birth­day present by her par­ents, Greg and Rachelle. ‘‘Grace loves sheep,’’ Rachelle said.

Each ewe had twins. The only male, Larry, is not go­ing to show be­cause there is no sec­tion for him. How­ever, he and his sis­ters will be at the Gore show on Fe­bru­ary 1.

The quar­tet had their first birth­day on Wed­nes­day.

Rachelle said she agreed with the breed­ers at Valais Blac­knose New Zealand that Valais were the cutest sheep in the world.

‘‘They’re a Swiss breed and bred for their wool . . . They have to be shorn ev­ery six months,’’ Rachelle said.

The wool around their face grows fast and the four owned by Grace get their faces trimmed of­ten.

An­other one or two Valais sheep own­ers were ex­pected to be ex­hibit­ing at the Win­ton show, Rachelle said.

Show pres­i­dent Dell­wyn Mal­colm hoped farm­ers and con­trac­tors could take a day off and at­tend the event. Many of them got be­hind in their farm work with the wet weather through the spring and early sum­mer, and were now work­ing long hours to catch up.

The poor weather conditions had made it dif­fi­cult for ex­hibitors to get their live­stock in prime con­di­tion, he said.

Mal­colm, who is now in his sec­ond year as pres­i­dent, would be ex­hibit­ing 70 South Suf­folk and Le­ices­ter stud an­i­mals.

The Hed­don Bush farmer be­came in­volved with the Win­ton show in 2008 and joined the com­mit­tee seven years ago.

One con­cern was the short­age of young peo­ple will­ing to be in­volved in run­ning the show, Mal­colm said.

There were about 33 show di­rec­tors, all of whom were vol­un­teers, and their aver­age age was 50 or older.

Mal­colm said it was im­por­tant for the fu­ture of the show that young peo­ple be­came part of the or­gan­is­ing group. Ways to at­tract them were needed.

He ex­pected that, with fine weather, 3000 to 4000 peo­ple would at­tend on Satur­day.

‘‘They’re a Swiss breed and bred for their wool . . . They have to be shorn ev­ery six months.’’ Rachelle Keen

ROBYN EDIE/STUFF

Rachelle and Grace Keen with Molly, who is one of the Valais Blac­knose hoggets to be ex­hib­ited at the Win­ton A&P Show on Satur­day.

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