Alpes and Corse
Trend of population size
Flock book established
Origin – history
introduction of Spanish Merino, based in the old imperial sheepfolds
of Perpignan and Arles, in the 18th Century, systematic crossings
(about 10% per annum) during the 1920s and continuing until the
beginning of the 1940s were performed with Mérinos du Chatillonnais
(Merinos Précoce), to improve the wool production and formation.
There have been other small inputs (1-3%) from Est a Laine Merinos
and Boorola (Australian) in the last thirty years. The breed has
also been exported to Spain, eastern Europe and north Africa on a
large scale, and some animals have been exported to Asia. The breed
now keeps 75% of its ewes as pure-bred.
The Arles Merino
breed is raised using transhumance, alternating the summer mountain
pastures with pastures on the plains (La Crau area) in winter, where
the animals are put out to pasture every day. Transhumance may also
incorporate a semi-mountainous area allowing for a transition
between the two locations. Mating principally takes place before the
animals make the ascent to high mountain pastures. However, rams
perform “return” mating when the animals come down from the
mountains. There are also variations to this procedure, involving
more frequent lambing (through further mating in the autumn), ewes
achieving a fecundity rate of 1.2. The lambs are sold at various
ages, either as suckler-lambs (very localised farming) or as
fattening lambs. The latter are often taken to high mountain
pastures and then sold on their return. A whole range of
intermediate systems also exists.
The sheep are white, usually only the males having horns, which are
rolled and spiralled, although small horns may be present on either
sex. They have good fleece coverage, with the legs free from fleece.
The mature rams weigh 70-90kg, and the ewes weigh 40-60kg.
are derived from these farming systems, and the high-quality wool
only accounts for a small proportion of the economic income. The
principal selection objectives for the Arles Mérino breed are the
milk value of the ewes and the growth of the lambs. Rams for
artificial insemination are chosen in order to preserve the fineness
of the wool, as well as maintaining the out of season breeding
capacity, a much-prized quality.
Merinos d'Arles 64, bd Louis Pasquet 13 300 Salon de Provence