August Breeder Focus of the Month - Jo and Symon Jacobsen 🏴🐑
1. Tell us a bit about yourself?
We are Jo and Symon Jacobsen along with our three children Jake, Izzy and Angus (who are all actively involved in caring for our Valais). We live and work on our 540 acre farm on the coast of NE Scotland, about 25 miles south of Aberdeen in partnership with Symons parents. We have arable crops, swedes and seed potatoes (‘neeps and tatties’, so we just need to start breeding haggis too lol), and a commercial gimmering flock of 850 Scotch Mules. Symon also runs a machinery import business from his tractor seat, for which I am Parts Manager aka head gofer!
2. Do you have a website/facebook page
Our VBN flock can be found on Instagram @valaisblacknosekinneff and our machinery website is www.jacobsens-gfm.co.uk
3. Flock Prefix
4. When did you get your first Valais Blacknose Sheep?
Symon bought our foundation ewe lamb Westmorland Dora from Tim Dunne at the inaugural show and sale in 2016 as a project for our children to get involved in. She was followed the next day by Donald the wedder lamb from Raymond & Jenni because my children’s flock of ‘odds and sods pets’ wouldn’t have anything to do with her! Thankfully they are all fully integrated and content now.
5. How big is your flock?
We did have 21 at the biggest but currently have only a couple of ewe lambs, including Kinneff Gorgeous who won her 4-6m/o class with Izzy last weekend at Carlisle), two teaser tups who are very special as they were from our first crop of Valais lambs, and Donald.
6. Who has been your favourite sheep and why?
I can’t choose just one! They’re all so friendly and enjoy a good scratch and a cuddle. Our children all have their own favourites especially as they’re the ones doing the showing during the summer months. Echo, Flora, Gorgeous and Gravy all feature on their list. Valais have such a fabulous nature, the Scottish word ‘couthy’ sums them up perfectly; kind, friendly, agreeable and sociable.
7. Do you have any tips you have learned about the breed along the way?
Woolite is my go-to for show fleece preparation! Definitely keep to the six-monthly shearing schedule, and try to prevent gorse, thistles etc in your fields. Your fingers and your wool buyer will appreciate it! Also essential is foot health; hairy feet and long wet grass is unfortunately a recipe for scad, so blue spray and foot shears are always to hand.
8. What are your ambitions for your Valais Blacknose Sheep?
I try to follow the Swiss breed standard to help create a healthy, content, fit and useful breed which is not only the world’s cutest sheep but is also commercially viable.
9. What other animals do you have?
The children have around 20 sheep including the Valais in their own flock, and we have an assortment of dogs including Border Terrorists, a Wolfhound, a Springer and a couple of working collies. We also have hens and ducks.
10. What is the best thing that has happened to you because of owning Valais Blacknose Sheep?
The friends we’ve made through owning the sheep, the fun we have showing them each year, and meeting people from all around the world who adore the breed at Carlisle ( fragile heads on the Saturday morning!) It’s great fun to get together with like-minded folk, so we’re looking forward to next year’s event already!
And finally, your best photo of your sheep?
Ahh hard to just decide on one. 1st one is of using winning the Ewe Lamb 4-6 month Class this year at Carlisle. 2nd one Izzy with Gorgeous winning young handlers and lastly a picture first time showing for us taken by Catherine MacGregor photography at the 2017 Blacknose Beauties show 😁