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Valais Blacknose Sheep

Valais Blacknose Sheep

Breed-Up Program

Valais Blacknose sheep is a heritage breed from Switzerland and can only be imported into the USA as embryos or semen.  An embryo lamb is genetically 100% Valais Blacknose and is termed "fullblood".  Sheep can typically be registered as "purebred" if genetically 93.75% or greater Valais Blacknose.  Many of the sheep in the USA are being developed through breed-up programs, where the percentage of genetics is progressively increased each generation through selective breeding.  Terms commonly used in breed-up programs are F0 (0%), F1 (50%), F2 (75%), F3 (87.5%), F4 (93.75%), and F5 (96.875%).


There are four registries in the US for Valais Blacknose (VBN) sheep. Links to website information follow.
1. American Valais Blacknose Sheep Registry (AVBSR): a) Work Order and b) Registration Application     
2. Valais Blacknose Sheep Society (VBSS): Forms & Policies          
3. Valais Blacknose International Sheep Breeders Association and Registry (VBISBAR):   Forms         
4. Valais Blacknose Sheep Association of North America (VBSANA): Forms 
Breeders and buyers need to review registration documents carefully since requirements vary by registry. Oregon Valais has developed a summary of criteria, based on our understanding, that is available upon request.  Contact us if you would like copy.

Breed Standards

Following are website links to breed standards for Valais Blacknose Sheep (VBN) from VBN registries.  
Breed Standard: VBISBAR 
Breed Standard: VBSS  

General characteristics in standards include:
1. Body structure and confirmation
2. Markings
3. Wool
4. Horns
Understanding the breed standards will help to evaluate stock quality when purchasing, selling, breeding, or selecting show stock.

Foundation Ewes

A wide range of breeds are used for foundation ewes in the US, including polled and horned sheep.  It is important for breeders to network and share their experiences.  

Following is recommendation from Valais Blacknose Sheep Society of New Zealand (VBSNZ) – Breeding up rules: “The recommendation of the VBSNZ for a foundation ewe is an all-round white wool sheep with similar frame and size to the Valais. However, this is not a requirement.” 

Lincoln and Romney ewes (all-round white wool sheep) have worked well for Oregon Valais as foundation ewes.  The progeny has excellent confirmation, markings, and wool.  It is almost like these sheep are a blank sheet of paper for markings and the black markings from Valais Blacknose sheep show well on the offspring.  

Valais Blacknose Sheep Oregon Valais

Oregon Valais.  
F1 lamb. Lincoln F0 ewe.

Polled Ewes

Breeders and buyers should understand the basics of polled/horned genetics and how this impacts progeny and registration.  Polled VBN cross-bred sheep can be recorded but not registered.   Following is a basic summary:
1. Homozygous Polled F0 ewe crossed with Horned ram.  100% of offspring polled but all carry horned genome (heterozygous).
2. Polled ewe with Horned sire (Heterozygous) crossed with Horned ram.  Statistically 50% of offspring horned. Polled offspring (heterozygous) continue to carry horned genome.
3. Horned ewe crossed with Horned ram.  100% of offspring will be horned.

Based on observation at Oregon Valais, horned progeny will have VBN horn structure if F0 foundation ewe is homozygous polled, while progeny from horned foundation ewe may have mixed horn structure.  

Valais Blacknose Sheep Oregon Valais

F3 Ram/Wether.  
Homozygous Polled F0 ewe. 
Heterozygous Polled F2 dam.

Valais Blacknose Sheep Oregon Valais

F3 Ram/Wether 
Horned  F0 Ewe.
Horned F2 Dam.

Following is link to University Kentucky paper that is excellent reference on horn genetics.  Although written for cattle, basic concepts apply to sheep.
The Genetics of Horned, Polled and Scurred Cattle

Cross-Bred Rams

Crossbred rams are an option in breed-up programs to:
a) provide cleanup for ewes that remain open after artificial insemination with semen from 100% ram and
b) increase number of percentage ewes in breed-up flock.  

It is important for breeders to understand the recordation/registration requirements for each of the four VBN registries, since requirements vary for cross breeding.  Two registries,  AVBSR  and VBSS, will record progeny from cross-bred rams.  VBISBAR and VBSANA require rams be 100% pureblood until ram is registered and has minimum VBN blood percentage of 96.87
5% (F5) and progeny will be minimum of F5. Please review the specific details on each registries website. 

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