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GALLERY: Surrogate mum carries lambs for prize flock of Valais Blacknose sheep

© Andrew CawleyBarbara, Glen and Ava Blacklock with Doris the Dorset Down and her Valais Blacknose lambs at Kirkconnell, Dumfriesshire
Barbara, Glen and Ava Blacklock with Doris the Dorset Down and her Valais Blacknose lambs at Kirkconnell, Dumfriesshire

With their lustrous wool and distinctive looks, Valais Blacknose sheep can fetch up to £7,000 each.

And one farmer is so keen to protect his prize flock that he has employed the services of a surrogate to carry their lambs.

Glen Blacklock, who owns a small holding in Kirkconnell, Dumfriesshire, has 24 sturdy Dorset Down ewes which carry embryos for his five Valais Blacknoses flockmates.

Glen, 47, said: “I thought that I would give Brenda the Valais Blacknose ewe a year off from lambing. So Doris our Dorset Down became a surrogate mum for her. Brenda is not too posh to push.

“She is just having a year off and will be back to lambing and rearing her own next season. They are both great mums, very maternal. We are just using reproductive science I guess, in the way people have for years.”

Brenda does not recognise her lamb as her own and the lamb sees Doris as his mother – despite the obvious physical differences.

The embryo transfers are carried out by Ovibreed, the advanced sheep breeding centre in Castle Douglas.

The procedure is done along the same principles as human surrogacy. Hormone injections are used to help donor ewes release large numbers of eggs.

They are then fertilised using artificial insemination and five days later the embryos are collected surgically, under general anaesthetic before being transferred to surrogate ewes.