UTV’s Rare Breed return is a big hit with viewers

Stephen Lyons
Stephen Lyons

The return of Rare Breed - A Farming Year was the most watched programme in Northern Ireland at 8.30pm last night with almost 140,000 viewers tuning in, equating to a 27% audience share.

Rare Breed – A Farming Year continues on Thursday at 8.30pm UTV where we meet more farming families and see what February has in store for them.

Crossgar pig breeder Robbie Neill

Crossgar pig breeder Robbie Neill

Our families are busy with young animals, be that feeding, competing, or treating.

We meet Crossgar pig breeder Robbie Neill for the first time.

He’s also a fulltime firefighter based in Belfast.

He’s established a herd of outdoor pigs but during the colder months the younger animals and sows come indoors, so it’s an early start for Robbie as every morning they need fed, watered and mucked out before he goes to work.

Vet Diane Beattie starts her day with an unexpected emergency with a sheep

Vet Diane Beattie starts her day with an unexpected emergency with a sheep

“There’s no gym membership required, this is a good workout in the mornings,” he said.

With two small children and another on the way he comments: “It’s busy in the house and busy outside the house.”

We meet Gloria and her 12 piglets, as well as Big Alistair the boar. We also meet his flock of Suffolk sheep.

Jack Smyth from Newtownsetwart is in Dungannon for the “Stars of the Future” Show and Sale. He is competing with three of his calves. He’s without wing woman Emma today and Jack teases,

“She’s selling a wedding dress to some unfortunate cutty.”

It’s an exciting and eventful day for the young farmer who won the event last year, so the pressure’s on.

Near Bushmills in Co Antrim, we meet David Chestnutt who featured in the last series with his dad Victor. He is assessing his Texel lambs, in the hope of selling ram lambs in Ballymena or Scotland. He comments it’s more a “feeding competition than a breeding competition” as the breed is such big business, with rams fetching big prices at auction.

We also meet the Stephen Lyons, who is in partnership with his brother John in a contracting business outside Coleraine. They operate mainly in Co Antrim and Londonderry and with February meaning the start of the slurry season, Stephen is out in the fields near Limavady spreading slurry using a dribble bar, which he much prefers compared to the traditional method.

The episode ends near Ballyclare in Co Antrim, where specialist farm vet Diane Beattie starts her day with an unexpected emergency with a sheep. She also diagnoses a sick cow on another farm, explaining the procedure of what to look for.

She says: “I grew up on farm, my dad was a farmer – I like the buzz of going out.”

UTV’s Mark McFadden narrates the series, sponsored by Moy Park, Rare Breed – A Farming Year continues on Thursday 16th January at 8.30pm on UTV.