Valais Blacknose Sheep
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A little about the Valais Blacknose Sheep
Valais Blacknose sheep is a breed of domestic sheep with incredibly unique features. Rare and majestic, the Valais Blacknose Sheep is highly sought-after by farmers and pet lovers.
Would you like to add this ancient breed to your flock?
Where are the Valais Blacknose sheep found?
The Valais Blacknose is a hardy, unpretentious breed indigenous to the mountainous region of Valais, southern Switzerland. It’s also one of the oldest sheep breeds in the world, with the first mentions of the breed tracing back to the 1400s.
However, the appearance of Valais Blacknose, which once looked like the Scottish blackface, has changed significantly over the years.
Although the Valais Blacknose has been roaming the Swiss Alps for hundreds of years, it was only recognized as a breed in 1962. Not much was known about this elusive breed until a Reddit post cross-posted by someone on Facebook went viral.
The sheep are known as Walliser Schwarznasenschaf in German.
The United States started importing Valais Blacknose semen in 2016. The 1st purebred embryos were imported in 2021 to the United States.
Why are the Swiss Valais Blacknose sheep so rare?
These sheep are found only in Switzerland, their native place, and a few parts of Germany. Efforts to breed them in North America are underway. These sheep are routinely attacked by wolves in the alpine mountains of Switzerland. Additionally, they are kept indoors in winter. Whereas, in the summertime, they are grazing in the mountains. That makes them kind of elusive.
What is the wool obtained from the Valais Blacknose sheep used for?
The wool from the cutest sheep in the world is considered to be excellent for carpets, bedding, and felting. About 8.81 pounds of wool can be reared from one Valais Blacknose sheep every year. These sheep are bred for their meat as well. However, we would advise our meat-enthusiastic readers to refrain from picturing them on the dinner table as they are quite a rare breed. There are only a few thousand of them left.
The Valais Blacknose’s standout feature is its large black nose, extending up to the head’s center. The distinctive convex nose, from which the breed derives its name, connects and encompasses the black surrounding the eyes.
They are mainly white, with uniformly distributed fleece. They have black ears and markings on the hocks, front of the knees, and tail (ewes). The entire body of a Valais Blacknose is covered in wool, including the legs and face.
Their short heads, small faces, big noses, and curly white fleece that’s soft to the touch give the breed a truly stunning and unique appearance.
One look at the breed, and it’s easy to see why they are dubbed ‘the cutest sheep in the world.’
When it comes to size, the Valais Blacknose is considered a large-sized breed. Ewes range from 70 to 90kg, while rams range from 80 to 130kg.
Both ewes and rams have a pair of helical or spiral-shaped horns, adding to their striking appearance.
The Valais Blacknose is an even-tempered, friendly sheep breed. Highly domesticated, these sheep aren’t afraid of humans and typically don’t shy away from human contact.
They are cute, social, and easy to tame, which is why they are increasingly being kept as pets.
The Valais Blacknose is known to be an extremely hardy mountain breed adapted to the steep, rocky pastures on the slopes of the Swiss Alps. They can handle extreme weather conditions in their homeland, even in the summer.
Being used to the cool and dry conditions in the mountains of the Valais region of Switzerland, this breed can be sensitive to extremely high temperatures.
However, the Valais Blacknose has been shown to tolerate the heat just fine as long they are shorn and have access to shade.
The Valais Blacknose becomes sexually mature at about 18-24 months. Their estrus cycle is unseasonal, with a yearly reproduction rate of 1.6 lambs. However, breeding the Valais Blacknose only once a year is best.
The Valais Blacknose ewes have a gestation period of 20 weeks and usually give birth to one or two lambs.
These sheep give birth to fast-growing lambs and have excellent mothering instincts. They produce sufficient milk for their offspring.
The Valais Blacknose is also raised for wool production. Their fleece is equally distributed all over the body, including the face and legs, and has similar length and thickness.
The average Valais Blacknose produces about 4 kilos of wool per year.
Their fleece is white and coarse, with a fiber diameter of roughly 28 – 38 microns (depending on age and gender) and a staple length of 5 – 6 inches. The Valais Blacknose wool is mainly used to stuff mattresses, felting, and carpet making. It can also be used for many other things as well.
VALAIS BLACKNOSE SHEEP ADVANTAGES
The Valais Blacknose is a very difficult breed to come by. That’s because this breed has many good traits that make it highly desirable for sheep farmers and pet lovers alike.
Here are some things that the Valais Blacknose sheep are good for.
Dual purpose. The Valais Blacknose are a dual-purpose breed. They are primarily raised for meat and wool. Both their meat and wool are highly sought after and fetch reasonable prices in their respective markets.
Adaptable. Although the Valais Blacknose are used to the dry cold conditions of their homeland, they are a highly adaptable breed. They can tolerate high temperatures are long as they are shorn and have access to shade.
Non-seasonal breeder. The Valais Blacknose can breed all year round, averaging 1.6 lambs per year. The fact that their breeding is not seasonally limited — as it’s the case with many sheep breeds — is great news for sheep farmers.
Great pets. The Valais Blacknose have a striking appearance (earning the reputation of the cutest sheep in the world), are intelligent, and are not shy of human contact. These characteristics make them such perfect pets.
VALAIS BLACKNOSE SHEEP DISADVANTAGES
Although the Valais Blacknose is pretty close, any sheep farmer can tell you for free that there is no perfect sheep. There’s always something to compromise. Here are the potential drawbacks of the Valais Blacknose:
Maintenance. This breed does not shed and requires shearing twice a year for optimal health and wool quality, which is quite a chore for the farmer and unpleasant for the animal.
Slow maturing. The Valais Blacknose is a notoriously slow-maturing breed, especially the ewes —which are only considered mature enough to handle pregnancy and labor at 18 months. This is not ideal for sheep farmers looking to grow their flock quickly.