Sheep breeds
Ile de France

Bélier lle de France - Crédit : DR
Bélier lle de France - Crédit : DR
Summary of the article

 Traits and performances

Resulting from the controlled crossbreeding the English Dishley breed and the Rambouillet Merino, the Ile de France breed stabilized as early as the 19th century in beet producing areas. It is still widely found in Picardie, Champagne-Ardenne, Burgundy and central France.

This heavy and early-maturing breed is characterized by a good balance between meat production traits and maternal qualities (prolificacy, suckling abilities). It reaches its full potential in sheepfold farming systems, with autumn lambing. It also adapts well to free-range or semi-free-range systems, with or without complementary feed for lambs, depending on objectives and sales periods.

Its natural capacity for out-of-season lambing makes it possible to mate ewe lambs at 9-10 months, and then establish yearly autumn lambing. An accelerated 3/2 lambing system is possible. Lambs are exceptionally well-conformed and have a high growth rate, which makes the Ile de France a breed that can be used both as a purebred and in crossbreeding to improve the meat production performance of more hardy breeds.

Thanks to this set of qualities, the Ile de France has been widely exported since the 50s. The breed can be found on all 5 continents, and demand remains strong in western and eastern European countries, in the Mediterranean belt, and South America.


The breeding objectives for the Ile de France breed are to simultaneously improve maternal traits and meat production qualities, while preserving wool qualities and adaptability to out-of-season lambing.

Scrapie resistance is also integrated under the breed’s selection criteria. The breeding program is based on on-farm ewes performance recording, individual on-station testing of meat production traits and progeny testing the best of these young rams for meat production qualities (at the FEDATEST station) and on maternal traits, prolificacy and suckling abilities (on-farm).


Key figures

  • 210,000 ewes
  • 51 flocks under official performance recording system
  • 11,343 ewes under on-farm official performance recording system
  • 10,772 artificial inseminations
  • Adult ewe weight:
    70 to 90 kg
  • Adult ram weight:
    100 to 150 kg
  • Prolificacy after natural estrus: 1.7
  • 30-day weight (singleton male): 14.5 kg
  • 70-day weight (singleton male): 28.9 kg
  • Average Daily Gain 30-70 days (singleton male): 354 g

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