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Velay Black   French   EFABIS Data


International Name

Velay Black

Local Name

Noire du Velay


Massif central

Breeding females



Trend of population size


Flock book established



Origin – history

The breed seems to have arrived in France with the Celtic tribes who came to inhabit the Massif Central, among other locations. It was previously known as the Noir des Bains (Baths Black), from the name of a place close to Le Puy-en-Velay. The breed had a difficult time at the beginning of the twentieth century, with commercial breeders crossing Tarasconnais ewes with better conformed rams in order to improve meat conformation. Since the 1970s, some breeders have been working on the breed’s rehabilitation. Currently, some animals are exported to Switzerland and Morocco, as these countries have a strong interest in this breed.


Breed description

The breed is perfectly adapted to difficult conditions and has a strong ability to breed out of season in semi-mountain areas. Although traditional management allows the lambs to stay with their mother all of their lives, the breed can be exploited based on an accelerated lambing schedule to achieve a fecundity rate of 1.47 per ewe. In this case the lambs are weaned at two months and then trough-fed, with flocks often being kept in combination with dairy cattle breeding units. Around 75% of ewes are pure-bred for renewal of pure-bred stock and crossing with rams from meat breeds.
The sheep are black and hornless, with a white patch on the head and at the end of the tail. The mature rams weigh 70-100kg, and the ewes weigh 50-70kg.

Conservation activities

Currently 30 flocks are registered with the breed society UPRA des races ovines des Massifs, having a flock book established in 1970 and 13.480 ewes registered. There are 33 flocks registered for performance recording with 314 ewes recorded.


Contact: UPRA Races Ovines des Massifs Route de Thiers site de Marmilhat 63370 Lempdes 

                Tel : 0473927407

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