The Scottish Smallholder and Grower Festival is proud to promote rare breeds and this year, it is welcoming two very special rare breeds to its’ show in Lanark Agricultural Centre on Saturday 27th September.
The Poitou donkey is a breed of donkey that has a thick matted and tangled coat, which originates from the Poitou region of France, about 300 miles south-west of Paris. By 1950 there was little demand for the Poitou, either in France or abroad. The mule could not compete with the tractor and the lorry, and mule breeding stopped providing a living for the breeder. The effect on the Poitou was catastrophic. Some breeders sold or killed their herds. There was little point in registering the birth of foals or the fact that animals had been sold. The Poitou donkey had become an endangered species. In 1977 there were only 25 animals left and concerns over the fertility of the remaining females, thankfully due to dedicated breeders the numbers have now risen. there are now 400 Poitou donkeys worldwide, 60 in the UK and with huge thanks to Alison Wiseman, the festival will be displaying the only examples of the breed in Scotland.
The Valais Blacknose is a domestic breed of sheep that hails from the Valais region of southwest Switzerland. These chaps are bred for their wool and their meat and oddly enough both genders grow horns. They are best suited to alpine pastures and thrive in the Swiss hills and valleys. The breed was first mentioned in the 1400s but was first recognised as a separate breed in 1963. You’ll be glad to hear that numbers since then are on the increase. In 1983 there were around 9940 Valais Blacknose, but by 2013 there were over 17,000. Jenni and Raymond Irvine own the only herd in Scotland and we’re very excited about seeing them in the flesh.
More information about the Festival, including livestock & craft competitions and the demonstration and seminar program can be found on the Festival website: www.ssgf.dev