With membership reaching over 100 breeders, this year’s Blacknose Beauties show and sale at H&H Borderway Mart, Carlisle on August 23-24, held by the Valais Sheep Society, promises to be the largest celebration of the UK’s fastest growing sheep breed.
Having established as a society in 2014, by Jenni McAllister, Raymond Irvine and Jamie Wood, the breed has gone from strength to strength, and this year’s show is expecting to see over 200 animals on display, resulting in the largest number of entries in the show’s history to date.
This includes the return of last year’s supreme champion, Highland Eric, and some of his offspring from Raymond Irvine and Jenni McAllister.
Commenting on the upcoming show and sale, Jenni McAllister, joint director of the UK Valais Blacknose Society, said: “There is now a strong presence of Valais Blacknose Sheep here in the UK, from Shetland to the very South of England.
"The show and sale is a chance to showcase why this breed, which originated from Switzerland, is particularly suited to UK conditions.
"We hope to attract farmers, small holders, and general fans of the breed to the show and sale and look forward to presenting the breed to a new audience and well as our current members and supporters. We want to encourage anyone with an interest in sheep to come along and see what this breed can offer."
Judges Philipp Truffer and Laurent Egger will travel from Switzerland to represent Oberwalliser Schwarznasen Schafzuchtverband, the Upper Valais Sheep Breeders' Association to perform the grading of all entered sheep using the adopted points system from Valais, which is designed to ensure that the highest breed standards are maintained in Britain.
As part of the society’s continued educational initiative there will be opportunities to attend grading and breed standard overview demonstrations which will be presented by the visiting judges from Valais and host Marita Tauni (Blacknose breeder from Sweden).
There will also be shearing, fleece care and spinning demonstrations delivered by Cwtchi Coo.
With a focus to encourage the next generation of breeders we will also see the return of the young handler classes.
Over the course of the two days, attendees can participate in needle felting workshops and learn to make their own Valais Blacknose Sheep, enjoy the many trade stalls on offer and have a selfie with ‘Elfie’ star of BBC2 This Farming Life program. Additionally, a public barbecue will be hosted on Friday, August 23, at 7pm.
There will also be a rare opportunity to purchase one of these highly sought-after animals, with ewes and rams being offered for sale. The Society hopes to repeat the success of last year’s sale which saw 74 Blacknose Valais sheep go under the hammer and Ram Highland Egbert top the sale, selling to the New Zealand Valais Blacknose Sheep Society for 10,000gns.
With Highland Valais Blacknose selling 2016 born ewes Highland Diamond and Highland Deedee for 5,000gns and 4,000gns respectively and gimmer Highland Faye selling at 2,400gns. Cumbria’s Tim Dunne sold ‘Westmorland Fred for 3,200gns. Other notable sales were Henry and Emily Duncan's ewe lamb Whitehall Esther for 2,600gns and Northumberland breeder Jamie Wood selling Prendwick Esther a ewe lamb for 2,400gns.
Speaking about the show and sale a spokesperson said: “This year looks set to be the biggest show and sale yet, attracting not only UK interest, but a global focus on these incredible animals.
"We have judges from Switzerland and sponsors from all over the world, illustrating the strong and unique appeal of this rare breed of sheep. We’d like to thank our mainline sponsor GSC Grays for their continued support. Also, to our class sponsors and supporters.”
Mainline sponsor of the Blacknose Beauties show and sale 2019 is GSC Grays, the land and property specialists, whilst Tomintoul Distillery donate prizes and the supreme champion trophy.
Class sponsors include international and British breeders and various commercial businesses.
International breeders: Valais Blacknose Sheep Association of North America, who will travel to Carlisle for the show from America with a large contingency of their members, Teton Valais Blacknose Sheep Company, and New Zealand Valais Blacknose who will also be in attendance.
British breeders: Valais Blacknose Sheep Ireland, Usk Valley Valais Blacknose Sheep, Lakeland Valais Blacknose and Crookedstane Valais Blacknose whom are fourth year sponsors of the young handler competitions.
Commercial sponsors: Animal Breeding Europe, Carrs, Cwtchi Coo, Booklight Learning, The Little Abodes, Huts in the Hills, and Horrible Histories’ author Terry Deary.