A remote island breeder finished his lambing season in style at the weekend – when the last of his ewes to lamb produced a healthy set of quads.
Murray Cooper from Fetlar got the surprise of his life when his Zwartebles black ewe became a mother of four.
“They were a complete surprise,” he said.
“They were born totally naturally without any help.”
He added: “I was absolutely amazed. I thought it was triplets, and they were up on their feet and feeding. And then suddenly she laid down and out came a fourth one.”
Mr Cooper said one of the newborns had since gone to a neighbouring croft to be reared on a Shetland ewe.
“There was one ram lamb and the three I’ve retained are all females.”
He said the newborns and mother were “absolutely flourishing”.
He added: “She was the last one to lamb.”
Not a common sight in the isles, Zwartbles originated in the Friesland region of the Netherlands, where they were primarily used for the production of sheep milk as well as lamb and mutton.
Intriguingly, the new lambs were sired by a Dorset Horn ram – a rare breed said to be good for breeding at any time of the year.
“They’re both very uncommon breeds,” said Mr Cooper, who retired to Fetlar 10 years ago.
“The Dorset Horn ram is the only one I’ve ever seen in Shetland.”