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Tarasconnais   French   EFABIS Data


International Name


Local Name



Pyrenees and Sud-Ouest

Breeding females



Trend of population size


Flock book established



Origin history

The breed probably originates from a Syrian population that was imported during early invasions of the region. Over the centuries it has experienced many infusions of foreign blood, notably the African Merino, the forefather of the Spanish Merino, which was imported by the Iberians, conquerors of Spain. There was a wide range of very diverse flocks that were all improved over the course of the 19th Century, to varying degrees, by breeding with early English breeds (Leicester, Dishley) and Danish breeds (Friesians). More recently Rambouillets, Soissonais and lastly Dishley Merinos and Chatillonnais Merinos have been used. The sheep that gave rise to the Tarasconnais seem to have undergone more limited cross-breeding. The first references to the Tarasconnais breed date from the late 1930s.


 Breed description

The Taraconnais is extremely hardy being adapted to the landscape, meteorological changes and variations in fodder that are inherent in the PyrEnEes. The breeders make the best of these conditions by practising transhumance. Mating usually takes place before the ascent to the summer grazing with 80% of the ewes being pure-bred. However this mating can become extended which leads to a lambing period from September to March. Given that it is a mountain breed, the Tarasconnais is well adapted to out of season breeding, achieving a fecundity rate of 1.23 per ewe. The ewes are also able to produce enough milk from these environmental conditions to provide a satisfactory lamb growth rate.
The Tarasconnais is a white sheep with horns on both sexes, the males being entirely spiralled. They have weak fleece coverage, with the legs free from fleece. The mature rams weigh 70-80kg, and the ewes weigh 50-60kg.


Conservation activities

There is an active selection programme aimed at enhancing the characteristics of the milk yield and the ability to breed out of season, both important factors for this breed. Work is combined with the need to ensure the hardiness of the breed whilst improving growth and conformation. Ewes are selected based on these important traits and ram lambs produced from these ewes are selected on breed phenotype and taken to a breeding centre. Semen from the best rams will be used for artificial insemination in the breed, therefore advancing these important traits.


Contact:  U.P.R.A. des Races Ovines des Pyrénées Centrales

                 28 rue des Pyrenees  31 210 MONTREJEAU

                 TEL. 05 61 95 68 44

Action Heritage Sheep AGRI GEN RES 040 receives financial support from the European Commission, Genetic Resources in Agriculture, under European Commission Council Regulation (EC) No 870/2004 AGRI GEN RES 2006 HERITAGE SHEEP