A Fermanagh family will star in tonight's episode of the hugely popular ‘Rare Breed – A Farming Year’ on UTV at 8.30pm.

‘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. Twelve families are taking part, and viewers were introduced to six of them in the first episode.

One of the famillies staring in the show is the Byers from Ballinamallard. Dale and Vicki Byers have a dairy herd of 150 cattle at their farm.  Dale is the third generation here while Vicki got into farming when she and Dale started dating when they were 15 years old. She also works for an EPOS provider for farm shops and delis. Now they have three children, 150 cows and milk three times a day, using a team of night milkers to lighten the load. Their daughter Poppy talks of her love of horseriding.

Near Aughnacloy in Tyrone we meet Paul Beatty who runs Tirelugan farm alongside his grandfather Cecil, and his dad Donald.  They keep cattle and a flock of Jacob sheep. It’s been a month of tricky weather. The fields are very wet but the milder than normal temperatures raise the risk of disease for the animals who have to stay indoors. As it’s lambing season, the Beattys are keeping a close eye on their ewes and newest arrivals. He has a real soft spot for pet lambs and comments, “Feeding one is the same as feeding 21!”  With 70 ewes to lamb, they know they are in for manys a sleepless night!

In the second part of the programme, we meet a couple who split their farm between Portrush and Dungannon - Shay O’Neill and Susan Chestnutt. They met at a country show.  Seven years later they’re engaged and have joined forces to create Seaview Farm. It’s a logistical challenge as Susan’s farm is on the north coast of Antrim while Shay’s land is 50 miles away near Derrytresk in Tyrone.  They comment that they couldn’t do it without the support of their families.  When asked how strong their relationship is, they laugh and say, “Nothing strengthens a relationship like trying to move pigs!”

In Templepatrick in Antrim, we get an insight into the equestrian world with rider and sports horse breeder Lucca Stubington who runs the family business with her mum Georgia. Lucca is the third generation to work with horses at their family equestrian business, Sweet Wall. Lucca and Georgia breed, train and compete across the UK and Ireland. In February the horses are getting a pre-season MOT.  Lucca is up early feeding the horses. She says they are spoilt rotten. Her mum Georgia explains that horses are athletes and gymnasts they way they operate their bodies, so they too need a day off, and ‘get time to be horses.

We also re-join Áine Devlin who featured in last year’s series, a 25 year old shepherdess who farms in Kilcoo in the Mourne Mountains, and also runs her own sheep scanning business.  She looks after two flocks – commercial hill sheep and pedigree Texels. Áine has finished lambing the pedigrees and with fifty new arrivals she has high hopes for them. Áine also has a scanning business and this morning she’s got a very important customer – her Dad!

UTV’s Mark McFadden narrates the series. Sponsored by Dromona, ‘Rare Breed’ – A Farming Year continues on Thursday January 26 at 8.30pm on UTV.