A breed of Welsh Mountain sheep that has declined in numbers by almost 30% since 2013 has been added to a breed survival watchlist.
The rare Badger Face Torwen will now have targeted support to aid in breed revival.
Torwens, which means “white belly,” have a black face with white markings and a black fleece with a white belly.
Their legs are beige with a black stripe, the underside of their tail is white, and rams have dark spiral horns.
The majority of current Torwen herds are still found in Wales, but herds have also been established in England and a small number in Scotland.
The breed entered the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) watch list following a drop in numbers.
The Watch List lists the rarest native animal and horse breeds in the UK.
RBST chief executive Christopher Price said action was needed to prevent the Torwens from disappearing forever.
“Not only are these sheep an irreplaceable part of our national heritage but [they] produce delicious meat, âhe said.
Brian Eagles, past president of the Badger Face Welsh Mountain Sheep Society, has guarded Torwens for over 20 years.
He said: âTorwens are very useful on farms and small farms due to their hardy nature, medium size and excellent mothering.
“They’re good for crossbreeding, popular in meat boxes, and great for conservation grazing work, but they’re not as well known as their Torddu cousins.”
Only 491 breeding females of Badger Face Torwen were recorded in 2019, compared to 681 in 2013.