Sheep breeds
Lacaune dairy line

Brebis Lacaunes - Crédit : OS Lacaune
Brebis Lacaunes - Crédit : OS Lacaune
Summary of the article

 Traits and performances

The breed’s name comes from the county town located in the Lacaune highlands in the Tarn. The breed’s native region includes the Aveyron and Tarn départements, as well as neighbouring areas (region called the "Roquefort Sector" in reference to the milk collection area).

Thanks to its dairy specialization, which began at the beginning of the 20th century, and then the subsequent creation of a meat branch within the breed (see Meat Lacaune Breed), the Lacaune has become the first French breed in population size. It is also exported to numerous countries (Portugal, Spain, Greece, Tunisia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Brazil, etc.).

The dairy Lacaune is still adapted to pasture management, but given the intensification of dairy production systems, it spends part of the year in the sheepfold. Lambing takes place in the sheepfold once a year, and is concentrated at the end of autumn (November to January). Lambs are suckled for 5 weeks, then weaned so that the milking period can begin. The first weeks of milking also take place in the sheepfold, then the ewes are turned out to pasture during the day.

The Dairy Lacaune is primarily monetized by Roquefort cheese, but lamb production is also a significant source of income for breeders: Lacaune lambs are the first to arrive on the market every year.


The Lacaune selection programme long focused on milk output quantities as its backbone, but today it also works with other improvement criteria such as milk content, functional traits (udder quality) and lower somatic cell counts.

Since 1990, the selection programme has enabled annual genetic progress amounting to over 5 l per lactation, 0.19 g/l in milk butterfat content and 0.17 g/l in crude protein content.


Key figures

  • 900,000 ewes
  • 512,000 ewes under milk recording system
  • 152,185 ewes under official milk recording
  • 407,787 artificial inseminations
  • Adult ewe weight:
    70 kg
  • Adult ram weight:
    100 kg
  • Milk yield: 292.6 liters (in 168 days)

Official milk recording results 2014 - Institut de l’Elevage & CNBL