Little lamb’s a big hit

BAYLHAM: No bigger than the nurturing hands of her breeder, this is one little lamb Mary would have been proud of.

The tiny Ouessant ewe – among the smallest breeds of lamb in the world – was born at Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm, near Ipswich.

Originating form the Isle de Ouessant, just off the Brittany coast of France, is an example of insular dwarfism, which over time reduces the size of breeding animals confined to a small area such as an island.

The rare Ouessant joins a flock of 15 at Baylham to be given French names, while other breeds are known only by their ear tag numbers.

This little lamb’s mother is called Marguerite and her new baby girl has now been named Mathilde. Neil Storer, who looks after all the livestock at Baylham, said: “Obviously the names have to be French and we just seem to have started a tradition of beginning the Ouessant ewes names with M.

“But we will probably have to change to another letter soon as it won’t be long before we run out of options for using M.”

The young lamb is no larger than a toy dog – and is set to remain smaller than other sheep throughout her life. Justin Osborn, from the farm, held her beside another lamb born at the same time to show just how much smaller she was.

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Mother and baby are both well and are in the lambing shed with all the other ewes due to lamb over the Easter holidays.

Lambs have for generations been linked with Easter.

They are a symbol of new life which links in with the Easter story – as well as the arrival of spring.

And for many people a very different kind of lamb, one associated with mint sauce, will feature on the Easter lunch table!

But Mathilde seems sure to escape that fate . . . she would not feed a very large family.

There has been increased interest in lambing this year following the BBC’s successful “Lambing Live” series earlier this month which followed lambing at a Welsh farm with a week of broadcasts.

Baylham House Farm opens at 11am every day and visitors will be able to sit on a straw bale and hold a lamb between Friday April 2 and Sunday April 18. The lucky ones may be able to see a lamb being born.

The farm is down Mill Lane, Baylham, off the B1113 between Needham Market and Great Blakenham and is preparing for a busy Easter holiday season.

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