|April Breeder Focus of the Month – Snowdonia Valais Blacknose 🏴|
1.TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF
We are Gerallt and Kerry Jones, full-time working parents to five crazy kids. We live in the foothills of beautiful Snowdonia; North Wales a stone’s throw away from our family’s hill farm, home to 350 Lleyn, texel cross and welsh mountain sheep which we help run. Our family has farmed here for over a century and hopefully our 4th generation shepherds in training will become the future custodians of the land. We embarked on our Valais journey as a result of our younger boys’ sheep obsession; whilst they are a little too young to manage the commercial sheep the Valais have proven to be a great introductory breed for them due to their placid natures, however by now it has truly become a family affair.
2.DO YOU HAVE A WEBSITE/FACEBOOK PAGE?
You can find us on both facebook: @valaisblacknosesheepsnowdonia and Instagram: @snowdoniavalaisblacknose
4.WHEN DID YOU GET YOUR FIRST VALAIS BLACKNOSE SHEEP?
We purchased our first Valais ram back in summer 2017, originally with the intention to cross breed with our greyfaced dartmoors. Following his arrival we immediately fell in love and instantly decided to focus on breeding pedigree stock. From that point we spent 7 months accumulating an inordinate amount of driving miles visiting flocks and cherry picking ewes to establish our breeding foundation.
5.HOW BIG IS YOUR FLOCK?
Today we have 28 sheep
6.WHO HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE SHEEP AND WHY?
They are all very special in their own right, but I guess the ones that stand out the most are Eddie who was our first Valais ram his arrival on the farm kick-started the addiction. Ego and Elsa whom were both awarded maximum points at the 2018 Blacknose Beauties show, Fifi and Flossy who are the most loving girlies we have and of course our first homebred ewe lamb Glory who appeared on BBC 1 Countryfile earlier this year.
7.DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS YOU HAVE LEARNT ABOUT THE BREED ALONG THE WAY?
Hoof care is paramount and the blue antibiotics spray your best friend. For best fleece results shear twice a year we normally shear mid-February in preparation for show season then again at the end of August. According to the Swiss best breeding results are achieved when a ewe is put in lamb at between 15-18 months at which point she has matured enough to manage both pregnancy and labour resulting in easier lambing.
8.WHAT ARE YOUR AMBITIONS FOR YOUR SHEEP?
Our main focus is to enjoy the sheep, educate our kids as we go along and continue to raise awareness for this amazing breed. Ideally we’d like to grow our flock over time, the goal is to have 20 natural breeding ewes and breed healthy, quality stock for the UK market. A personal ambition of ours is to help establish dedicated Valais Blacknose classes at future Royal Welsh shows and head back to Switzerland at some point to witness the sheep gathering.
9.WHAT OTHER ANIMALS DO YOU HAVE?
We have 8 greyfaced dartmoors, 7 soon to be 10 goats and a beagle called Benji.
10.WHAT IS THE BEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU BECAUSE OWNING BLACKNOSE SHEEP?
Without a doubt it’s about the people that we’ve met, the life-long friends we’ve made, our children’s enjoyment and the quality family time caring for the sheep has enabled us to have. Our journey has been both an educational and exciting one so far and we feel very privileged to have visited Visp in Switzerland earlier this year for the annual Miss Visp and Widdermarkt shows, seeing these magnificent creatures in their native land is a definite must. With a successfully first breeding season behind us we now look forward to another fun-filled show season.
AND FINALLY YOU’RE BEST PHOTO OF YOUR SHEEP…