Where are they in the world?
They are originally from Switzerland but were imported into other European countries including the UK as little 4-5 years ago where they became very popular for their visual appeal and their personalities. The result has been the rest of the world has fallen in love with them, however to date only New Zealand has been able to import embryos in 2017 due to a recent change in its biosecurity laws.
The USA imported semen from scrapie-resistant rams from the UK last year for a breeding up program and entry of embryos, semen, and live animals into North America from New Zealand is looking more promising in the near future.
Unfortunately, it will be a while before any genetic material will be permitted into Australia due to their very strict import laws. However, we will continue to monitor progress in this area.
What is their fleece like and can I buy one?
Lamb fleeces are very soft with fibres at an average diameter of 28 – 30 microns while the adult fleece is coarser at an average of 38 microns. Spinners tend to mix it with other fibres such as Alpaca, but it is reported to be excellent for felting.
At times we will have raw fleece available. Raw fleece will be sold via the New Zealand site TradeMe. When fleece becomes available a link to the TradeMe auction will be posted on the Facebook page and website.
What are their personalities like?
The Swiss say, “make friends with a Valais and you have a friend for life!” and that about explains it. They are gentle and curious with very little fear of humans, making them the perfect pet. Easy and quiet to handle, to catch them to trim their feet or give them a good “once over” health check, often they just need to be called (with the added attraction of a bucket of nuts helping of course!).
The Valais come from the Canton of Valais in Switzerland, where they live high up in the Alps over summer and are brought down off the mountaintops to lower levels in the winter. Therefore they are used to cool and dry conditions. So far breeders in the UK have not reported any major problems but there are certain health issues which one needs to be mindful of with a change in environment because of their physiology.
As mentioned above, the Valais come from a cool dry climate so all the health issues associated with other types of climates need to be addressed. But they’re worth it!
In wet climates, their feet need to be cared for as with any other sheep there will be the tendency to be prone to foot scald and foot rot. In warmer climates, there is fly strike and requiring twice-yearly shearing and shelter from the heat. All can be adequately managed with regular foot baths and observant for flies. They also have the tendency to sweat between the toes in hot weather sometimes making their feet sore because of their black woolly boots!
Their preferred diet is very goat-like, they enjoy the types of herbs and plants one would find in the mountains, sometimes over and above grass and clover if they have the choice! However, they do well on ordinary pasture with the addition of high protein muesli or nuts for growing lambs.
Do you have a waiting list?
Unfortunately, due to overwhelming interest, we are unable to keep a preferred waiting list. We will update our Facebook and website when animals become available. As we are building our flocks we will not be selling purebreds for a while, however, we will be able to offer some crossbreds for sale within NZ early 2018. There will also be semen for sale later this year. We anticipate having a limited number of embryos available by August 2018 and we know this will give some hope to US breeders who have been unable to import embryos from the UK. Potentially we are expecting purebred lambs on the ground in the US by February 2019. All updates will be posted on Facebook and the Availability page on the website.
What price range will the sheep, lambs, embryos and semen be?
Prices haven’t been set yet as the breed is very new to NZ, so for the first year we will be using an auction system for any semen, crossbreds or wethers which come up for sale.
Can we visit the sheep and lambs?
We have one flock in the North Island and one in the South Island. As we are growing our flocks we are not able to offer farm visits. We anticipate having some of our beautiful Valais on display at some of the agricultural shows later in the year. This will be advertised on our Facebook page and website.
Do you have breed standards?
We have set our breed standards to match the stringent original Swiss Breed Society Standards, which are the same standard used in the UK. This has resulted in the importation of top quality embryos from prize-winning stock with genetics which can be traced back to the original Swiss parentage.
Where are your stock imported from?
Please refer to the genetics heading on the website. There you will find a detailed description of the genetics of our flocks