Jonah Fopma wins breed up ewe giveaway at National Valais Blacknose Sheep Show

Jonah and Reagan Fopma are part of the Valais Blacknose Sheep of Sugar Creek team north of Lynnville. The team brought home 16 different awards from the first-ever National Valais Blacknose SHeep Show in Des Moines.

 

Jonah Fopma of rural Lynnville is now the owner of a ewe, the breed of which, some call the cutest in the world. During the National Valais Blacknose Sheep Show held in Des Moines Sept. 29 and 30, 12-year-old Fopma was selected as the recipient of a Valais Blacknose Sheep breed up/crossbred ewe during a special giveaway.

Fopma and his mom Erlene saw the signup sheet for the giveaway at a table at the show. While he knew it was a longshot, he signed up anyway, and was surprised to hear his name called on the Saturday of the event.

“I had no idea I would be chosen for this ewe, but I was so excited, I jumped to my feet when they called my name,” shared Fopma.

Jonah Fopma, 12-year-old son of Jamie and Erlene Fopma, with the ewe he won thanks to Fred and Cheryl Hayes, who sponsored the giveaway at the National Valais Blacknose Sheep Show in Des Moines.

Fopma met with the owners, who told him the ewe has had previous babies.

The giveaway was sponsored by Fred and Cheryl Hayes from Ravenna, OH, as a means of supporting youth and youth development in the Valais Blacknose Sheep Breed Up Program and to encourage youth to get involved with the breed.

Fopma shows Valais Blacknose Sheep as part of the Valais Blacknose Sheep of Sugar Creek, co-owned by shepherdess Kristie Wildung and shepherd Stan Fopma, north of Lynnville.

“When Jonah first saw this breed, he told me, ‘Someday, I’m going to have my own Valais Blacknose in my own pasture,” said Erlene. “He reminded me of that after he won the ewe.”

Fopma named her Leah, and she is pastured on their farm north of Sully.

In addition to the ewe, Fopma was provided with a straw of Parkdale Crackers semen to use in the Lap Artificial Insemination (AI) process to be used in breeding. This process will occur after the ewe is prepared for breeding later this month. Once the AI process is complete, the ewe will be pregnancy checked through a blood draw. Once pregnant, Leah will lamb in roughly 145 days.

 

Valais Blacknose Sheep of Sugar Creek team brings home hardware from national show

During the recent inaugural National Valais Blacknose Sheep Show in Des Moines, the Sugar Creek team took home numerous awards, including the Overall Champion F4 Breed Up/Crossbred Wether shown by Gracie Kaufman of Grinnell and Overall Reserve Champion Breed Up/Crossbred Ewe shown by Fopma. Other locals and family also showing as part of the Sugar Creek team include: Reagan Fopma of rural Lynnville; Blayne LaRue of rural Lynnville; and Denley, Ayden, Huxley, and Selwyn Willert of Brookings, SD.

Other awards and honors received by the Sugar Creek team included: Champion Breed Up/Crossbred F4 Ewe shown by Denley Willert; Reserve Champion Breed Up/Crossbred F4 Ewe shown by Reagan Fopma; Reserve Champion Breed Up/Crossbred F3 shown by Kristie Wildung; Reserve Champion Breed Up/Crossbred F4 Wether shown by Denley Willert; and Reserve Champion Breed Up/Crossbred F3 Wether shown by Kristie Wildung. The team took home seven first-place, four second-place, three third-place, and two fourth-place awards.

Each member of the Sugar Creek team also participated in the showmanship and fancy dress competitions. H. Willert won the junior showmanship, Kaufman won the senior showmanship, and R. Fopma took home the winning ribbon in the fancy dress competition. Her entry was Lil’ Bo Peep, who lost her sheep, and she wore a special costume sewn by her grandmother Mary Fopma.

Valais Blacknose Sheep are a relatively new breed of sheep introduced to the United States through a breed up program in 2019 and are known as the “cutest sheep in the world.” The breed of sheep originates from the Valais region of Switzerland, and the sheep are known for their cuteness as well as their loveable personalities. While useful for meat production, few of this breed are consumed, because so few Valais exist. Their long ringlet wool fleece is especially coarse and is used for felting crafts and making mattresses.

Valais Blacknose Sheep of Sugar Creek north of Lynnville has participated in the Valais Blacknose Sheep Breed Up Program since 2020, and now includes use of Lap AI, ovine in-vitro fertilization and imported embryos.

Visitors are welcome at the farm by reaching out to Kristie or Stan at kristiewildung@gmail.com.

 

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