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Care of Valais

What you will need to care for your Valais Blacknose Sheep

  • Water trough – there must be fresh water at all times
  • Hay racks with good quality hay, especially important in Winter when the grass is not as good – N.B not hayliage or silage which can be fatal to sheep
  • A quality vitamin lick for sheep should always be available – ours LOVE ‘Lifeline Ewe & Lamb Lick’ from Mole Valley County Stores or Wynnstay 
  • If you stick to the rule of 5 sheep to an acre, you should not need to supplement feed hard food unless you want to.  If you do, good quality Sheep nuts are the best food (better than the Ewe & Lamb mix) and around 1kg per sheep per day is a general guide
  • For lambs, use Lamb creep hard food between 2 weeks and 5 months of age (after which they can progress onto Ewe or Hogget nuts)
  • Blue or Yellow Antibiotic Spray (available on prescription from Vets)
  • Fly strike preventative spray – we prefer the longer-lasting ‘Clik’ or ‘Crovect’
  • Barrier Blowfly Repel and Foot Rot Spray
  • Hoof trimmers and dagging shears
  • A good vet

When your sheep arrive

When your sheep arrive at your premises, they should be wormed and quarantined from any other livestock for 21 days. Preferably, they should be kept sheltered and on a hard surface for the first 48 hours.

General Care and advice

Valais Blacknose are a very rare and characterful breed of sheep, often behaving more like a friendly dog than a sheep (!), however they are still sheep and need a lot of care and attention to ensure they are kept healthy and happy. You should check/analyse your sheep daily and if you spot anything that does not look right, act on it. We’ll give you a few tips, things to look out for and ways to prevent problems in this document and of course we are always available for aftercare and advice for our customers.

Insurance

Due to the high value of the sheep, we strongly recommend customers insure their sheep. We recommend Greenland’s Insurance www.greenlands.co.uk, who insure our flock against all sorts of disasters including flooding, worrying, lightening or theft.

We use CCTV cameras to aid in additional security as well as being able to keep an eye on the sheep during the day/night if required.

Shearing

Valais Blacknose Sheep have a fabulous longwool coat which is fast growing and requires shearing twice a year – we shear in March/April and September. The only exceptions to this are;

  • Lambs are sheared for the first time at around 6 months of age
  • If you are showing your sheep, they should be in full coat by the time of the shows

If it is particularly cold at the time of shearing, you may need to house them for a few days at night (shelters/barn).

Hoof-Care

All sheep’s hooves need to be kept properly trimmed as overgrown hooves can be painful and cause serious problems for sheep. If you notice one of your sheep is limping or holding a hoof up, do not ignore it – it needs attention. Due to being a longwool breed, they are perhaps more prone to getting ‘scald’ (interdigital dermatitis) or bacterial infections of their hooves than some other sheep breeds. Therefore, ensuring your sheep are sheared twice a year and that the wool near their hooves in particular is kept short, as well as paying regular attention to their hoof care is important.

If you need to treat Scald (the tissue, usually between the toes of a sheep, is generally blanched and white, or red and swollen), simply administer blue or yellow antibiotic spray and check all the other feet.

Worming

Worms are only really an issue in the warmer months. Whilst you can simply use regular preventative doses for the flock, we tend to prefer to worm according to faecal sample analysis which we take regularly from our flock then worm only as required, rather than overdosing.

Something to look out for that’s often a sign of worms is when sheep have mucky rear ends. This can simply be caused by fresh grass but do take a faecal sample and have it tested to check for worms.

Fly Strike

Fly strike is a killer – and a fast killer. We don’t take any chances, especially when we have sheep in full coats for shows during the Summer months where they are particularly at risk. As soon as the weather starts to warm up in late Spring (sometimes earlier), we use Clik or Crovect which gives sheep 16 weeks’ worth of protection against fly strike.

Areas to watch are around the sheep’s horns, their hooves, and around their rear ends. If you do spot any signs of fly strike (flies buzzing around and landing on a particular area of a sheep, or if you can already spot eggs and/or maggots) then simply spray the Clik or Crovect directly onto the area which will quickly kill the egg and maggots and stop any more eggs being laid/hatching.

Handling

Valais Blacknose sheep are unusually docile and can have various husbandry tasks done, such as their hooves, whilst stands up. However, do not handle the sheep by their horns until they are least 12 months of age as they are brittle.

Some sheep do not like being handled by their horns so just be mindful of those that do and those that do not.