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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 July, 2004, 05:43 GMT 06:43 UK
Couple help save rare sheep breed
North Ronaldsay sheep
The North Ronaldsay sheep had been facing extinction
A couple are helping to save a rare breed of Bronze Age sheep, believed to be the first ever to be farmed.

The North Ronaldsay sheep is one of the oldest breeds in the world and the Lancashire couple have now built up a flock of nearly 50.

Former teachers Anne and John Lane keep the livestock at their smallholding near Preston.

The Lanes will be putting their sheep on display at the Royal Lancashire Show, taking place this week.

North Ronaldsays are small and wiry, and because they are not thought to be commercially viable were in danger of becoming extinct.

But the breed is now flourishing thanks to a small, dedicated network of breeders, which include the Lanes.

They insist the animals are not kept purely as pets, but they are training them to walk on a lead.

With brains 18% larger than an average sheep, they are intelligent - and seem to have developed an instinct for survival, the Lanes say.

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