Sheep breeds

Brebis Romane suitée de jumeaux - Crédit : OS Romane
Brebis Romane suitée de jumeaux - Crédit : OS Romane
Summary of the article

 Traits and performances

The Romane – also known as INRA 401 – was developed through a breeding program that the INRA (French national institute for agricultural research) has been running since 1963 to improve the prolificacy figures of French national sheep stock. INRA 401 was bred by crossing Romanov (for its prolificacy traits) with Berrichon du Cher (for its carcass meat production qualities).

The Romane breed combines the traits of these two breeds. Its prolificacy is high, with a average between of 2 and 2.3 according to seasons. Its mothering qualities make its rearing easy: good suckling abilities, highly developed maternal behavior (easy lambing and adoption…). It has a very good natural capacity for out-of-season lambing, allowing year-round production without using hormone treatments.

Its hardiness enables Romane to be reared in all French regions (low and highlands, dry plateaus) and farming systems (free-range, semi-free-range, sheepfold, transhumance)

Rearing Romane has not special requirements other than care with diet management over the late-gestation to early-suckling period.

The breed is mainly used for terminal crossbreeding with specialized meat-breed rams.


The selection objectives aims at improving both breed maternal traits (stabilization of prolificacy in 2 after natural estrus, improvement of suckling abilities and fertility) and meat production abilities (growth, conformation, carcass yield), as well as scrapie resistance

Breed selection has enabled a 5 to 6 L increase in dairy output per year, and since 1990 has made it possible to achieve year-on-year ram breed line improvements of 0.23 g in butterfat content and 0.19 g in protein content.


Key figures

  • 100,000 ewes
  • 73 flocks under official performance recording system
  • 22,050 ewes under on-farm official performance recording system
  • 6,109 artificial inseminations
  • Adult ewe weight:
    70 to 80 kg
  • Adult ram weight:
    90 to 100 kg
  • Prolificacy after natural estrus: 2.1
  • 30-day weight (singleton male): 13.1 kg
  • 70-day weight (singleton male): 27.8 kg
  • Average Daily Gain 30-70 days (singleton male): 351 g

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