When researching about the Valais Blacknose Breed in the US you're going to find information on the breed-up program, and foundation ewes and you're going to hear the words maximum points quite often. This information is important. We believe for the Valais Blacknose Sheep breed to advance in the US the most important factor is to get the youth involved.
As parents, grandparents, and former 4-H advisors we know the value of young people raising
livestock. After years of being advisors to a great number of kids, only a handful went on to participate in the livestock industry, either as producers of club lambs, pigs, or goats or as livestock judges.
As passionate as we are, out of nine grandchildren only one is a 4-H member. Young people have endless options for sports and activities to choose from. How can we get them to choose the Valais Blacknose? The Valais is like no other sheep breed we've experienced. Their demeanor is more like a dog's. If kids are introduced to this breed at a young age, it would be hard not to fall in love with the Valais.
We have been in the breed-up program since 2019 and have sold a number of sheep. When we look at the buyers they are mostly older women. We have great respect for older women (I'm one!) but when we have a family with young kids buying sheep it's a rewarding experience for us. What's even more rewarding is guiding them through the process and watching them grow.
We are currently helping Abby (Valley View Valais in Ohio) and her young family with their growing flock. They purchased F1s from us. When they picked up their F1s it was a family affair.
Abby, her husband, and two curly-haired girls arrived with smiles and lots of questions. It was a treat watching the girls be so excited. They had saved money for their portion to purchase the sheep. Fred asked Abby in advance to have the girls hand him their money. This way he could
ask them questions and simply hand the money back to them to care for their new flock.
On their next visit, they brought their F1s to our farm for the AI process. Again, the girls were full of energy and fun watching the process and asking questions brought smiles to our faces. It was cold but hot chocolate and donuts helped along with the good conversation.
While Abby's flock is growing, so is her family. She and her husband welcomed a little boy in February. We see so much fun in his future and in all of their futures, including ours, simply by watching them. No doubt we will be attending their fairs in the future and watching them in the show ring. We know this is the future for the Valais Blacknose Breed and we believe it's in good hands.
What can we do to help the youth? We think it's our job to find the answers to certain questions. Among them, is how to care for this breed of sheep introduced to the United States. What's the difference in the care in the US vs Switzerland (pretty sure Switzerland doesn't experience the temperature of Texas), how about feed, parasites, and shearing? In our experience, there is a difference from other breeds of sheep. Learning the answers to these questions and more, will allow us to pass that knowledge to our youth and they will be able to focus on breeding, showing, and promoting the Valais Blacknose Sheep in the US.