The Valais Blacknose sheep originates from the areas around the Canton of Valais in Switzerland and for hundreds of years this was the only place they could be found. They are known to be a hardy breed that has adapted to the steep, rocky topography in the alps and the extreme weather conditions even in the summer. In their home country, this large breed has been providers of both meat and wool since the 1400’s but were only recognised as a breed as recently as 1962.
The long white wool of the body, the black face and ears, and black markings on the knees, hocks and ankles combined with the spiral horns make this an attractive and rather distinctive breed. The breed is well known as a good producer of meat and is well known for the long coarse wool which has been widely used for felting and carpets.
The breed is rare worldwide, with most still found in Switzerland though smaller satellite populations exist in Germany, The United Kingdom, New Zealand and The United States of America, hopefully now safeguarding the breed from further decline. The first embryos and semen arrived into Australia from the UK in October 2020.
This is a large and relatively slow maturing breed. In Switzerland, ewes are usually not bred until they are at least 18 months of age. They are non seasonal breeders but it is recommended to breed naturally once per year. Reproduction rate averages 1.6 lambs.
Where are Valais Blacknose found in the world?
Valais Blacknose are originally from Switzerland but were imported into other European countries including the UK where they became very popular due to their appearance and personalities. The rest of the world has fallen in love with the breed and they can now be found in USA, NZ and Australia.
What are their personalities like?
The Swiss say, “make friends with a Valais and you have a friend for life!” The Valais on the whole are very curious and have very little fear of humans. This makes them quiet to handle, so catching them for husbandry requirements like trimming their feet is relatively easy. Often they just need a bucket of feed and to be called!
What is their fleece like?
Adult fleeces have a broad fibre of around 38 micron. Lamb fleeces are very soft at an average diameter of 28 – 30 micron. It is reported to be excellent for felting, while some spinners like the fibre due its length and may mix it with other fibres such as Alpaca.
Which areas in Australia suit Valais
Valais blacknose originated in the alps in Switzerland. They are kept high in the Alps in the summer and are bought down to lower levels in the winter. The breed has been developed in cool and dry conditions. The breed is now found in many parts of the world with many and varied climates, however breeders and owners need to be mindful that they may need to make accomodation for the breed if they are living in a new type of environment, ie Hot, or wet, or humid.
Valais Blacknose must have protection from the heat and extra care in hot weather. They need to be shorn twice a year as their fleece grows very quickly. As with any other sheep, feet need to be attended to and in wet climates they must be watched for foot scald and foot rot.
In the alps Valais prefer naturally growing alpine mountain herbs and plants. However they will do well on regular pasture supplemented with some high protein feed for growing lambs or pregnant ewes.
Is there a breed standard?
The breed standard has been set by the original Swiss Breed Society and all registries around the world have adopted those standards.
Where is the Australian stock imported from?
All Australian stock (semen and embryos) have been imported from the UK under strict importation rules as set out by the Australian government.
How do I become a member of Valais Blacknose Australia?
Please contact us for a membership application form. As a breeder member you can register a flock prefix with your application.
Why should I become a member of Valais Blacknose Australia?
Membership allows you to be in direct contact with other Valais Blacknose breeders in Australia, provides you with information and assistance with your breeding, includes your stud on the breeders webpage and for sale webpage and allows you to register your lambs so that they have a pedigree certificate with their full Valais ancestry.
Why do all lambs have to be DNA tested?
It is important to record the true, verified pedigree of each animal so that the flockbook is correct. We believe that as the technology exists to verify pedigrees, then it should be done as a matter of course, so that buyers can have confidence they are receiving an animal they expect.
Must all ram lambs which do not meet the breed standards be castrated?
It is important to ensure that breeders maintain only the best males for breeding. Ram lambs which do not meet the breed standards (appearance, conformation and fleece) should be castrated. Castrated males are not eligible for full pedigree registration but can be listed as ‘non-breeding’ animals within the flock book and will be issued with a ‘non-breeding’ certificate for authenticity if required.
in the breed up program, all ram lambs for the first 4 generations are castrated and sold as pets.
How long do I have to castrate my ram lambs?
Castration without an anaesthetic using a rubber ring should happen very early, even within the first week of life. Once a lamb reaches 3 months of age, castration should be carried out under anaesthetic by a vet.
Who do I contact to order DNA tests for my animals?
You will need to contact Valais blacknose Australia to request your DNA testing kit. Please be aware that the tests are managed by an external lab and results can take 6-8 weeks depending on workload.
Can I register sheep imported from other countries?
Valais Blacknose Australia can accept applications for imported animals from other recognised registries, with all relevant importation documentation provided for verification.
What is a PIC number?
If you intend to keep livestock, you must apply for a Property Identifcation Code (PIC). This number identifies your property and the animals you intend to keep on it as a reference for government agencies to assist all livestock owners in the event of a biosecurity alert. The way to register for a PIC varies in each state. You can find out more on your states Department of Agriculture website.
What is NLIS/EID Sheep Identification?
The National Livestock identification System (NLIS) is the Australian body tasked with recording movements of all livestock in Australia. This is done with the use of NLIS approved tags. All states are now moving towards Electronic Identification Devices (EID) which are usually eartags used to identify your sheep. The NLIS tag on your sheep will be used to identify the animal on their pedigree papers.
What is the Valais Blacknose Breed-up Program ?
This program allows members to breed up to purebred from Australian foundation ewes of any breed. We suggest heritage long wool breeds are a good starting point. Purebred Valais Blacknose semen is used to produce a 50% Valais lamb in the first generation. Ewe lambs are kept for breeding and males are castrated. Each generation, purebred valais semen is used to create the next generation, moving up from 50% to 75% to 87.5% to 93.75% to a final Australian purebred Valais at the fifth generation at which point males can be registered for breeding.
How do I find stock for hire/sale?
Please visit Valais blacknose Australia’s website, where you can find a breeders directory and a for sale page.
How much do Valais Blacknose Sheep cost?
The prices of sheep vary greatly depending on bloodlines, grading scores, and overall quality of animals. However, as they are very new into Australia and demand is higher than supply, they are very expensive at this stage. It’s important to do your research and be very careful to only deal with reputable registered breeders.