Two Fermanagh farming families are starring in the latest series of the popular and successful ‘Rare Breed – A Farming Year’, which returns to our screens tonight (Thursday, January 19) at 8.30pm.

The new series starts in Fermanagh as episode one takes us to Rosslea, where an award-winning farmer, John Egerton, farms with his three sons, William, Robert, and Samuel. The family have a suckler beef herd of 90 cattle and a flock of 250 ewes.

In January, John and his sons are looking forward to the arrival of new calves to the farm. John says all three boys are “mad about farming” so he’s had to push the farm to make it a sustainable venture for the future for the whole family.

Talking to The Impartial Reporter about his ‘Rare Breed’ experience, John said: “We enjoyed [the experience] but it was a bit strange. The show’s crew came out here for three or four hours at a time, and basically followed you around everywhere you were going.

“At the start you were a bit conscious of the camera; it was hard to relax, but once they were around for a while, you got more relaxed and you just went around your natural work.”

John has been farming his whole life and is happy to see his three sons follow his vocation. “I have three boys, and they are all mad keen about farming,” he said, noting that they all enjoyed being a part of the farming series.

In the second episode – to air on January 26 – we meet Dale and Vicki Byers, who have a dairy herd of 150 cattle at their farm in Ballinamallard.

The couple have been together since they were 15 years old and while Dale grew up on the farm, Vicki is a self-professed townie. The couple balance life on the farm while looking after their three children, Poppy, Charlie, and Ina-Grace.

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter about taking part in the series, Vicki said: “Part of [my reason for] going on Rare Breed was I wanted to show women in agriculture, and hopefully inspire other females.

“I’m not from a farming background, and my highlight would be showing others you don’t have to be from a farming background to become a farmer or indeed, to work on a farm.”

Vicki went on to comment that Rare Breed has also given her and Dale the opportunity to show people how they involve their children in farming.

“The kids are very much involved in the farming and I’m looking forward to showing people us as a farming family.

“It’s not just Dale out farming on his own – the whole lot of us are out helping, doing it all together,” she said, adding that their children are very much looking forward to seeing themselves on screen.

“It’ll be great memories to have too,” Vicki told this newspaper.

‘Rare Breed – A Farming Year’ is the ground-breaking year-in-the-life observational documentary series charting the reality of farming in 21st century Northern Ireland, giving a unique insight into one of Northern Ireland’s largest and oldest industries.

For more than a decade the series has taken viewers into the farming world through the lives of farmers across the country.

Now in its eleventh year, this series follows 12 families as they deal with one of the most unpredictable periods in living memory.

The 12 families featured reflect the diversity and innovation in Northern Ireland’s agri-food sector.

Be it traditional beef, sheep, dairy and produce enterprises, or social farming, breeding alpacas and sport horses, we see how they face daily challenges and constantly work in all weathers against a backdrop of Brexit, climate change and the war in Ukraine.

UTV’s Mark McFadden once again narrates the series. Sponsored by Dromona, ‘Rare Breed’ – A Farming Year starts on Thursday, January 19 at 8.30pm on UTV.