Sheep breeds
Préalpes du Sud

Brebis Préalpes du Sud - Crédit : DR
Brebis Préalpes du Sud - Crédit : DR
Summary of the article

 Traits and performances

The Préalpes du Sud breed is still localized in its native home region: the Alp foothills, where the Drôme, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and Vaucluse départements meet.

The Préalpes is able to cope with high temperatures, and can exploit rough forage resources (transhumance routes and scrubland). Its hardiness allows flocks managed through transhumance to thrive in summer pastures.

This ewe has a good capacity for out-of-season lambing, a sought-after characteristic for accelerated season production especially for official quality labels. It also has good carcass value and growth potential, and as a result is most often used in purebred form for producing meat lambs. It can also be easily cross-bred with specialized meat-breed rams like the Berrichon du Cher.

The Préalpes is most often farmed in specialized farming systems or in dual-purpose systems where sheep production dominates with complementary hay and grain sales activities.

In areas that produce good forage, farming is managed under a more intensive system. The flock is most often sedentary, with some wintering in sheepfolds for relatively long periods. It is managed with two lambing periods (February-March and August-September), and even up to three lambings in two years.

Breeding is managed more extensively in large, dry transhumance areas (scrubland, moorland): flock management is associated with heavy pastoral activity and most often closely follows grass growth. The lambing period logically takes place in spring in order to best exploit forage resources.

Mountain farming is characterized by alternating wintering periods in sheepfolds and summer pasture periods. Farmers then make use of ewes with heavier wool. Lambing takes place primarily in autumn, with a catch-up period in spring.

These 3 main breeding systems lead to a wide variety of meat product types: sheepfold lambs, heavy lambs sold after transhumance, etc. A portion of the ewes is used for cross-breeding with specialized meat-breed rams.


Genetic selection primarily focuses on the male line and is based on parents’ evaluation: rams are selected based on their parents’ performance.

The main objectives of the breeding program are to preserve breed characteristics (general morphology of the animal, hardiness, capacity for out-of-season lambing), and to improve maternal qualities, suckling abilities, ewe prolificacy, and finally scrapie resistance.


Key figures

  • 150,000 ewes
  • 14 flocks under official performance recording system
  • 5,463 ewes under on-farm official performance recording system
  • 979 artificial inseminations
  • Adult ewe weight:
    55 to 70 kg
  • Adult ram weight:
    75 to 100 kg
  • Prolificacy after natural estrus: 1.4
  • 30-day weight (singleton male): 12.2 kg

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



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