History of the Valais Blacknose Sheep
These beautiful Valais Blacknose Sheep originate from the Valais region of Switzerland. This region is one of the driest and also the wettest in Switzerland. In summer the sheep are allowed to graze the valleys and are known for their hardiness and ability to climb the rockiest and steepest of slopes. In winter the harshness of the weather means most farmers bring their flocks indoors (Popular ski destinations such as Zermatt and Verbier are situated in this region during the winter months)
The breed dates back to their first mentions in 14th century and was first recognised as a breed in 1962. There are approximately 17000 of them in the world – until recently these were mostly in Switzerland although there are some breeders in Germany.
In March 2013 these beautiful animals were featured on the BBC's Country File programme and caught the attention of many sheep enthusiasts all over the UK
After much organisation and paperwork Emma Collison from Valais Blacknose Sheep UK was the first person to import this breed with the first sheep arriving in February 2014. From that point there have been numerous breeders import animals from Switzerland until they closed the borders and stopped letting people import.
Many breeders have since used Embryo Transplants to rapidly increase the amount of animals in the UK. Whilst this is a good way to increase the population it is vital that breeders record the pedigree of these animals as with no imports allowed we all need to work hard to keep the gene-pool varied and avoid inbreeding.
There have been a few reduction sales of the Valais Blacknose which we have attended and purchased animals from and also the Valais Blacknose Society held a Blacknose Beauties show in Carlisle in August 2016.
There are 325 animals imported from Europe and now registered in the UK with over 500 registered lambs having been born in the UK. The total number of Valais Blacknose Sheep in the UK is unknown as there are unregistered animals