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Ile de France



Ile de France Breed History

(Information below obtained from UPRA L'ile - de - France breed literature)

The Ile de France sheep was developed in France by the careful crossing of Dishley stock (progeny of the New Leicester - an English breed improved by Bakewell) with Rambouillet Merinos, then Mauchamp Merinos.

The history of the Ile de France breed is closely linked with the history of sheep farming in France. After wool prices fell at the start of the 19th century (1800's) French sheep were bred for meat production. As a result, in 1824 Auguste Yvart, a professor at Maisons-Alfort National Veterinary College undertook to breed a new sheep better suited to current economic conditions by crossing Dishley rams with Merino breeds used in France. This crossbreeding began in 1832, and by the late 1800's established a new breed with the qualities of both original breeds.

This new breed spread throughout the Ile-de-France region, where they were especially popular on farms as users of crop by-products.

The Paris General Agricultural Show admitted Dishley Merinos for showing in 1875.

In 1882, progressive farmers created a Flock Book and gave the Dishley Merino its final name, the Ile-de-France. The outstanding success of the Ile de France since then is due to the Flock Book having achieved its objectives and the quality of the stock.

In 1933, Professor Leroy instituted performance recording for the Ile de France; a great step forward.

By 1959, performance recording was adopted by all French sheep breeds.In 1960, due to economic conditions, Ile de France breeders decided to concentrate on reproductive and growth characteristics, especially prolificacy.

In 1968, the Ile de France Flock Book began batch progeny testing of rams and set up a testing station.

In 1972, the testing station opened at Verdilly under the aegis of the Ile de France UPRA. UPRA included all persons and organizations concerned with the Ile de France breed. The UPRA became responsible for the future of the Ile de France breed, taking over the Flock Book.

In 1979, the UPRA decided to leave the Ile de France female progeny on the farm for indexing of breeding stock.

In 1983, the UPRA held the first International Conference of Ile de France breeders in Aisne.

In 1990, Individual Station Recording of rams was introduced into the Ile de France genetic improvement program to satisfy the meat industry's requirements.The final result of all this careful selection is that the Ile de France has become the dominant breed in France. It is also one of the top meat breeds in the world, being exported to more than 30 countries.


The Ile-de-France prolificacy has continued to increase steadily since 1968 when it was 130%, and breeders began selecting for more prolificacy.In 1991, the average productivity for the Ile-de-France breed calculated from 24,666 ewes performance recorded was 168%. The average for UPRA flocks ( 11,737 ewes) was 171% for fall lambing. The five top breeders recorded 198% for spring lambing.

Breeding Season

The ability to breed "out of season" is one of the characteristics which the Ile-de-France has retained from its Merino ancestors. In France, about 64 % of all Ile-de-France lambs are born between September and November.

Milking Ability

Ile de France ewes are good milkers. 83 % of twin lambs born are raised successfully on the ewe without assistance.

The Ile de France Breeding Program

Since 1968, the Ile de France UPRA has stated clearly defined breeding objectives: improve prolificacy, reproduction and growth qualities, to breed for meat production demanded by the market, and maintain the ability to breed out of season.

In other words, a truly "well balanced breed".



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