The Brave, Inquisitive Flock At Valais Blacknose Sheep

Valais Blacknose Sheep family farm founder Jane Lauber tells us all about getting to know "the world's cutest sheep," the friendly and brave Valais Blacknose.

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by Phillip Mlynar
PHOTO: courtesy of Valais Blacknose Sheep

Sheep play a special role in Jane Lauber’s world. Based in Yarrambat in the state of Victoria in Australia, Lauber heads up the Valais Blacknose Sheep family farm, where she specializes in raising an irresistibly charming breed that she dubs the “world’s cutest sheep.”

Beyond the Valais Blacknose’s eye-catching looks, it turns out that establishing the heritage breed in Australia was something of an administrative trial—and Lauber’s original inspiration behind tracking down some Valais Blacknose came about after receiving heartwrenching family news.

We spoke to Lauber about her sheep-centric roots and the personality of the Valais Blacknose breed. We also got into the benefits of raising sheep in pairs.

Pocket Money Rearing

Growing up on a mixed farm in Devon, Lauber recalls earning her pocket money by caring for baby lambs who couldn’t be reared by their mothers.

“I absolutely adored it, and then I progressed to rearing the calves as well,” says Lauber. “I would be furious if dad didn’t wake me when he did the 2 o’clock round to check the sheep and I slept through to 6. He knew I needed to sleep to get to school, but I would always try and make the middle-of-the-night rounds.”

Sheep as Therapy

Lauber’s path to raising Valais Blacknose sheep began when she received the traumatic news that her daughter, Sue, was diagnosed with brain cancer. “We were sitting in the lounge room one afternoon, after her daily treatments, watching television when I saw a program about these sheep,” says Lauber. “I said to Sue we should get some for the 8 acres I had just bought.”

Lauber adds that after her daughter was first diagnosed, she sold all her business interests “to be with her, so these sheep just looked so adorable I thought it might be a nice interest for us.”

Overcoming Importing Issues

After Lauber set about attempting to import some of the “stunning sheep” into Australia from the United Kingdom, she quickly came across a series of tricky import regulations.

“We had to pass requirements of Department of Agriculture and all the quarantine requirements,” she explains. “You cannot import live sheep to Australia because we do not have some of the terrible diseases that other countries do. Having accepted that, I started the paperwork chase.”

Ultimately, Lauber found a workaround that took over three years and involved acquiring sheep in Switzerland and sending them to the United Kingdom “to have embryos made and also semen straws and then finally imported them into Australia.”

Getting to Know the Valais Blacknose

When it comes to the personality of Valais Blacknose sheep, Lauber says she wasn’t prepared for just how amiable and entertaining the breed is. “They are naturally so friendly and brave and inquisitive,” she says. “They just follow you around like a dog. They want you to pat them and play with them all day long.”

To that end, two of Lauber’s flock, Adam and Arnie, enjoy popping along to a local cafe on their leashes.

Good Things Come in Pairs

“I recommend these sheep to anyone who loves animals and wants a friendly, hardy and easy-to-handle pet,” says Lauber when advocating for the benefits of raising Valais Blacknose sheep. “I will only sell two together unless they already have another suitable pet. They are very expensive because it has cost a fortune for me to get them here—but it also means they should be well treated by new owners.”

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