Blacknose Shows in Switzerland

There are a number of shows held throughout the year in Valais but the most prestigious Miss Visp (ewes only) and Widdermarkt (rams only), which are held annually in February and March.  Both of these shows are hosted by the Swiss Sheep Breeding Association: Oberwalliser Schwarznasen Schafzuchtverband, they also provide judges to carry out grading of all entered sheep.  The judges undergo years of training prior to qualifying as a breed expert. 

Miss Visp

Miss Visp is a two day show held usually the second weekend in February.  Entered sheep are grouped in pens for each category dependent on age.  During grading the penned area is cordoned off to the public and restricted to judges and stewards.  The exhibitors remain in the main spectator crowd to wait in anticipation for their results.

Judges enter each category area to grade the sheep based on their overall appearance, conformation and wool.  Sheep awarded maximum points are sectioned off. The judges then decide between the maximum point sheep and select category winners.  Stewards are on hand to manage the sheep as per the judge’s request. 

The most elite prize is awarded to “Miss Visp”.  Judges also select an Overall and Junior Miss Visp winner, as well as the best ewe/ewe lamb runners-up. 

Miss Visp winners and runners-up are invited to the stage at the end of the first day for judge’s commentary. Prizes are presented during an official ceremony on the second day of the show whereby winners and the best ewes/ewe lambs from each age group are shown in order of placing (Ist place wears a ribbon).

Miss Visp:  Penned sections for each age class
Miss Visp:  Maximum point sheep taken aside from their pen and tied outside for further judging
Miss Visp:  Further judging of maximum point ewes. 
Judges commentary of Maximum Points category winners at Miss Visp
The Crowing of Miss Visp

Widdermarkt 

Widdermarkt is a one day show held in early March.  The same format for grading at Miss Visp is applied at Widdermarkt.  The rams are cordoned off to all public and only the judges and stewards are allowed in the area for grading.  There is no overall winner at Widdermarkt but all maximum point rams are awarded in a prize giving ceremony where there is commentary given by the judges; they share their decision insights.  This is the only time owners ‘show’ their sheep throughout the entire show. 

Widdermarkt:  Rams are lined up in age related categories. They are untied and handled by stewards for judging.

Widdermarkt:  Tense times for the breederswhilst their rams are graded, they remain in the spectator area.  

Presentation of age category prizes for maximum point rams at Widdermarkt

Blacknose Beauties

For those who can’t travel to Switzerland, the next best option is to visit Blacknose Beauties held near the end of August (date TBC for 2020) in Carlisle, England.  The Blacknose, albeit is a fast growing breed, it is still a new breed in the UK.  There is therefore learning curve and a requirement to build knowledge within the UK.  It is important to have a framework and guide to work from to continue a standard of breeding.  In the early stages when VBSSUK was first formed, the committee agreed to simulate the methods in place in Switzerland and adopt the same processes here in the UK, and therefore makes Blacknose Beauties unique to other UK sheep shows. 

The main goal is to bring all breeders together in a friendly environment and provide a platform to network, engage and hopefully improve knowledge around the breed.  It provides the opportunity to all members to have their sheep graded by accredited judges using the same grading system that is used in Switzerland.  Grading is carried out by judges from Valais with each sheep having an individual scorecard and with having 240 entries in 2019, it is a great event for seeing some of the best of the breed in the UK.

Blacknose Beauties - Grading and Show Prize Giving

Blacknose Beauties is a two day show.  VBSSUK replicate the grading process and this is carried out on Day one of the show.  There are 5 class winners for each category.  The top graded entries qualify for show and judging on Day two where exhibitors show their sheep in the ring and compete for the top 5 placements. Each 1st place winner then goes on to contend for the Overall Male/Female Champion title followed by the Reserve and Supreme Championship Cup.

VBSSUK are thankful for the continued support over the last 5 years from the Swiss Sheep Breeding Association.  Their expertise is welcomed each year and much is learned from the grading and prize selection process.

Swiss Judges assessing each sheep at Blacknose Beauties
Each Class winner competes to become Champion.
Winners of each class at Blacknose Beauties win a bell from Switzerland

There are plenty of other Shows that you can visit in Switzerland, there are a few in September when the sheep have just been gathered off the hill at the end of the summer. Zermatt is a popular one that a few of our members have visited, set at the base of the Matterhorn. The Swiss Society have also just been to Sweden to judge their first show with great success for the Swedish Breeders with quite a few gaining maximum points.

Stock Availability

With regards to availability of stock, we receive countless emails enquiring if breeders have stock to sell.  Demand far outweighs supply especially when it comes to ewes but do have a look at the VBSSUK breeder map to connect with a breeder in your area, you may be able to join a waiting list.

Map link: http://valaisblacknosesheepsociety.co.uk/breeders/