'It took us by surprise' - Farmer's delight after rare lamb born

Lamb born in north Norfolk with rare black markings

A farmer in north Norfolk had a surprise when a Swalesdale lamb was born with distinct black markings which are unusual for its breed. - Credit: Stephen Yarham

A north Norfolk farmer had a shock after one of his ewes gave birth to a "very rare" lamb in the early hours of the morning.

Stephen Yarham has been breeding Swaledale sheep for a decade but he has never come across a lamb with black and white markings.

It was born on land belonging to the Muckleburgh Military Collection museum, where Mr Yarham keeps his herd for grazing, on Wednesday, April 27.

The 51-year-old said: "I've been breeding Swaledales for about ten years and I've never seen one with any black on it at all. It came as a complete surprise.

"I spoke to some breeders in Yorkshire, where the breed originates from, and they said it is very rare to see and they were quite amazed we had one.

"I wondered if she could be a Newcastle United fan."

Rare Swalesdale lamb born in north Norfolk with black wool

The lamb, which was born early Wednesday morning (April 27), is considered good luck due to its very rare colourings - Credit: Stephen Yarham

Mr Yarham, 51, came from a farming family and set out on his own at the age of 21.

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He now has a farm based near Melton Constable but also uses land at the Muckleburgh site for grazing.

Alongside Swaledale sheep, he also breeds the hardy Scottish Blackface sheep. 

While Swaledale sheep are common in Yorkshire and further north, Mr Yarham is one of a few farmers in Norfolk rearing this particular breed.

Lambing season has been running since March and will soon come to an end in April, making this lamb a late addition to the herd.

"Things have gone very well this year," said Mr Yarham. "We only have two more ewes to lamb so we are nearly finished.

"We normally breed about 100 each year - a mixture of Swaledales and Scottish Black Faces.

"Having this one arrive was quite a big surprise so near the end of the season."

The lambs are normally sold for breeding but this special arrival will not be going anywhere.

He added: "If we were to sell her she would fetch a higher price as she is so rare.

"But we'll be keeping her forever now as she's a sign of good luck."

Mr Yarham is now asking the public for help with choosing a name for this unique lamb.