Foundation stock for a new Shropshire sheep breed flock to be established by Prince Charles will include pedigree animals from the well-known Sidedowns Flock of John and Pauline Bowles, based near Cullompton.
Shropshire ram Sidedowns Nimrod was secured for this new flock at a pedigree sale held in Shrewsbury. Shearling Shropshire ewes from three breeders across the country will also be joining Nimrod at Duchy Home Farm to graze in the fruit orchards there and to produce organic lamb alongside the farm's resident flock of Lleyns.
Breed society president Liz Bowles said: "We are delighted that Prince Charles has chosen to establish a flock of Shropshire sheep on his home farm.
The breed has long been popular with Christmas tree growers across Europe, because Shropshires are the most tree-friendly breed of sheep able to graze effectively and safely among trees.
"Top fruit producers have also started to use the breed successfully in their orchards. Prince Charles became aware of their unique abilities at the Rare Breeds Survival Trust's 40th anniversary celebrations earlier this year when the Shropshire breed regained traditional breed status."
In addition to its role in agroforestry, the breed is also gaining popularity among commercial breeders for its ability to perform well on forage diets.