Just how they gained the moniker of the cutest sheep in the world and as if anyone ever knew there was such a competition is now up for debate
Valais Blacknose sheep, said to be the cutest sheep in the world, have been born for the first time in Australia following the successful importation of embryos and semen from the United Kingdom (UK).
So far, we can agree it’s the first time the breed has been born here, but as to the title of “the cutest sheep in the world” that point clearly appears to be in the eye of the beholder.
But one thing is certain, at the moment this untidy little creature is worth $7,000 for a wether while the breeding ewes fetch $25,000 each.
But don’t get too carried away and take out a bank loan, as that value is purely down to their rarity here.
Local breeding will slowly begin to level out the current high value, and it will be the pet and hobby farmer market that will see any real sense in breeding and selling these black faced curiosities.
The Valais blacknose is an ancient sheep breed that originated in the Swiss Alps and are easily identified by their shortened black nose profile and nobbily black knees.
There are just not a lot of these sheep around, with under 19,000 worldwide, and it wasn’t until the pet market placed them ahead of the Shih Tzu Asian toy dog breed originating in Tibet that anyone took any notice of the breed.
And like any lamb, children are drawn to the breed as a pet but may not realise they will actually grow to a full size sheep with an average body height between 75 and 83cm for males, and between 72 and 78 cm for the ewes.
And another message lost at lamb age, the average mature body weight of the mature rams is between 80 and 130kg, now that’s what you call a robust little pet.
Head of Biosecurity Andrew Tongue said this was not only the first time the breed had been born in Australia but the first time the breed had reached Australian shores.
“The Valais Blacknose Sheep originated in the Swiss Alps, where for centuries it was used for meat and wool,” Mr Tongue said
“More recently, the animals’ adorable looks and gentle temperaments have made them popular around the globe and many families are keeping them purely as pets.
“The breed has now spread to Europe, the UK, and the US, and this year the first Valais reached Australia.
“Farmers and pet lovers have been interested in getting the Valais Blacknose breed into Australia for many years, but an Australian importer, Caprotek, finally succeeded following a request to the department to import embryos and semen from this breed.
“The department liaised with the importer to ensure the genetic material met all of Australia’s strict biosecurity requirements.
“Sheep genetic material could potentially pose a risk of serious animal diseases such as scrapie, the ovine equivalent of Mad Cow disease.
“Following a long process over three years, complicated by Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, the frozen embryos and semen were approved by the department and were able to make their way to Australia.
“The importer was able to meet all biosecurity requirements to allow the import, and as you can see from the photos, the result was worth the effort!”
To find out more about more about Australia’s import conditions for animal reproductive material and embryos, see more on this link.
What makes the Valais Blacknose sheep stand out
This domestic sheep breed originated in the Valais region of Switzerland and as it spread across Europe is also known as a Blacknosed Swiss, Visp, Visperschaf, Walliser SchwarznaseschafandWallis Blacknose.
For Swiss breeders it sits in their coarse wool category and is raised mainly for meat.
The Valais Blacknose sheep is a full-sized breed and both rams and ewes have horns which belies their popularity as pets. The wool is mainly white but as the name suggests the breed has a black nose and face.
|Breed Name||Valais Blacknose|
|Other variants||Known by other names such as Blacknosed Swiss, Visp, Visperschaf, Walliser Schwarznaseschaf and Wallis Blacknose|
|Breed Purpose||Meat, wool|
|Reliability||Very hardy and strong animals, good for both meat and wool, but today raised mainly for meat|
|Breed Size||Full size sheep up to 83cm body height|
|Weight||Rams weight between 80 and 130 kg, and body weight of the ewes vary from 70 to 90 kg|
|Horns||Both rams and ewes have horns|
|Climate Tolerance||Native climates|
|Colour||White body wool with a black nose, face and knees|
|Rarity||Under 19,000 worldwide|
|Price||Wethers $7,000 breeding ewes $25,000|