The hugely successful RARE BREED – A Farming Year returns to our screens next Thursday 9th January at 8.30pm, and it is all change again with new families, new farms and businesses, and new challenges, with some familiar faces thrown in!

Rare Breed is the ground-breaking year-in-the-life observational documentary series charting the reality of farming in 21st century Northern Ireland.  In the eighth season of this series we follow ten families steeped in farming and the industry, on a range of farms (dairy to beef to pig to sheep) across the six counties (from the mists of Fermanagh to the Belfast hills to the world-famous north Antrim coast).

Filmed in all weathers, this series follows the families from a variety of farms across Northern Ireland over a 12 month period. We follow the producers of cattle, sheep, bees, llamas and this series, we also meet a vet, and a contracting family who both play vital roles in keeping the agri-food industry going.

In the first episode we meet 23 year old Jack Smyth from Newtownstewart, who farms with his parents and partner Emma.  The family is well-known in the farming world for producing top quality cattle. In January they have their hands full looking after their pedigree and commercial flocks too.

The McGovern family is back. Sean and his four daughters are hoping for a good year at their farm near Clogher in Tyrone. Like thousands of other farmers, their January is spent getting all the jobs done that don’t need good weather. While they work at erecting boundary fencing, they look forward to the coming months.

Near Antrim town, the McConnell family come home after work and school to care for their collection of animals, including goats and llamas. Dad Mark is enthusiastically helped out by daughters Caroline and Olivia, who are proving more and more helpful as they get older.

Near Newtownards in Down, January is an exciting month for beekeepers Valentine and Chris Hodges – they get to say hello to their bees as they open their hives after the Christmas break. But there’s also serious work to be done in ensuring they keep a deadly virus at bay.

Other famers in the series include a pig farmer from Crossgar, a farm vet from Ballyclare, and brothers from Coleraine who are in the contracting business.

Terry Brennan, Head of News and Programmes at UTV said, “Rare Breed – A Farming Year has become a firm favourite amongst UTV viewers who look forward to the return of the agricultural series each year in our New Year schedule.  One again, each of the 12 episodes take us through the year, and show the realities of modern farming and gives the viewer a real insight into the lives of the people who carry on this vital tradition and industry.  I’m sure the series will entertain, educate and delight in equal measure.”

The series is produced for UTV by local independent production company Crawford McCann Television. Kelda Crawford-McCann, Managing Director of the company said:  “We are delighted with the continued popularity of Rare Breed.  Many of us are just a generation or two away from the land. In fact, no one lives more than a dozen miles from the farming industry. Yet, despite this close relationship most of us are unaware of the realities of life on the land. The 12 episodes totally encapsulate the daily sacrifice made by the people that farm and live in the countryside.”

UTV’s Mark McFadden will narrate the series. Sponsored by Moy Park, Rare Breed – A Farming Year starts on Thursday 9th January at 8.30pm on UTV.

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