2014 - Volume #38, Issue #5, Page #40[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
“World’s Cutest Sheep” Only Available In Europe
Valais sheep are bred specifically for mountainous regions of the Alps in Europe. They’re also known as the Valais Blacknose, the Wallis Blacknose, or if you’re in Germany, Walliser Schwarznasenschaf.
Valais are a dual purpose breed raised for meat and wool. Their fleece is coarse in texture, almost white in color, and 4 in. to 6 in. long on mature animals. It’s the solid black muff of 1-in. fleece covering their nose, eyes and ears that gives them their quizzical and cute look. Some animals also have a small tuft of black fleece below the knees on their front legs. The adult rams and ewes of the breed both have horns that in some instances are flat and spiraling.
Scottish farmer Raymond Irvine paid $90,000 for 10 ewes and a ram that he intends to breed at his farm in Moray. He also spent $8,000 on closed circuit TV cameras and guard dogs to protect the valuable sheep from thieves and intruders. He was surprised just a few days after taking delivery of the ewes that one of them gave birth, the first Valais born in Scotland.
Although the animals aren’t available in the U.S., that hasn’t stopped a Facebook user from setting up a page called “BlacknoseSheepUSFanClub”. It has nearly 8,000 “likes” and on it you’ll see hundreds of Valais sheep photos snapped presumably on small farms in the Swiss Alps.
The USDA says at the present time live animals, embryos or semen for this unique breed aren’t allowed in the U.S. due to a concern about transferring the Schmallenberg virus, which was first identified in 2011 in various ruminant animals in the Netherlands, Germany and other European countries. The central nervous system virus results in aborted fetuses, births of deformed or stillborn lambs, and infected adults showing fever, loss of appetite and eventual death. The USDA is monitoring the virus and says as of June, 2014, the ban for importing Valais is still in place.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Valais Blacknose Sheep – US Fan Club; https://www.facebook.com/ValaisBlacknoseSheepUsFanClub#!
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