Sheep breeds
Berrichon du Cher

Bélier Berrichon du Cher - Crédit : DR
Bélier Berrichon du Cher - Crédit : DR
Summary of the article

 Traits and performances

The Berrichon du Cher has been targeted at meat production since it originated in the 18th century. This long-lasting breeding process has resulted in a well-conformed breed (the majority of lambs are classified as U in the E.U.R.O.P. quality grid, but without excess fat), characterized by early growth.

Berrichon ewes also have a natural ability to lamb out-of-season: 60% of lambs are naturally born from September to November, a schedule which provides high flexibility in terms of production.

Its meat production traits have not kept the Berrichon du Cher from retaining its hardiness and ability to cover wide distances, which render the breed suitable for various livestock management systems and territory types. For example, the breed enables production of well-conformed sheepfold lambs, as a complement to grain cultivation: lambing then takes place in the sheepfold from October to February and the ewes are turned out to pasture after the lambs have been weaned.

The breed is also suitable for free-range or semi-free-range breeding systems, with later lambing during spring and a grass finishing phase.

With rams that strongly influence their progeny and production of well-conformed and early-maturing animals, the Berrichon du Cher is highly valued in terminal crossbreeding, especially with hardy slender breeds or prolific breeds. The breed is also very popular as an export product, particularly to countries within the European area.


The primary breeding objective is to improve the breed’s meat production qualities. The genetic improvement program led by Geode is based on the 2 700 ewes with on-farm official performance recording.

The ewes with the best maternal traits participate in planned mating by artificial insemination with rams qualified as “Improvers”. 100 to 150 rams resulting from these mating programs are evaluated through individual on-station testing and the 10 best animals are then progeny tested on meat production criteria: growth rate, carcass quality (fattening level and fat distribution in particular).

Based on the results of this progeny testing, the rams qualified as "Improvers" are then propagated by artificial insemination.


Key figures

  • 30,000 ewes
  • 17 flocks under official performance recording system
  • 2,622 ewes under on-farm official performance recording system
  • 19,003 artificial inseminations
  • Adult ewe weight:
    70 to 90 kg
  • Adult ram weight:
    100 to 140 kg
  • Prolificacy after natural estrus: 1.6
  • 30-day weight (singleton male): 13.5 kg
  • 70-day weight (singleton male): 27.9 kg
  • Average Daily Gain 30-70 days (singleton male): 358 g

Results of on-farm performance recording system 2014 - Institut de l’Elevage & Races de France