Sheep breeds

Troupeau Suffolk - Crédit : DR
Troupeau Suffolk - Crédit : DR
Summary of the article

 Traits and performances

English in origin, the Suffolk breed was imported to France as early as the 19th century. French farmers have focused on making it thicker, more prolific and better adapted to continental and Mediterranean climates.

Purebred flocks can primarily be found in northern, central and south-western France, whereas rams are used for crossbreeding throughout the country, and beyond: the breed is extensively exported throughout Europe, but also to the Maghreb or the West Indies.

The Suffolk is exploited as a purebred, whose maternal qualities, prolificacy and suckling abilities are highly sought-after. It is also used for crossbreeding with numerous other breeds; its early maturity and excellent conformation enable to produce heavy lambs without excess fat.

It is above all a grassland breed, managed with a lambing rhythm of once per year. Its high level of productivity enables it to get the best value out of cultivated forage areas. It also prospers in sheepfolds, where it is even easier to get the most out of lamb growth potential.


The breeding objectives for this breed aim at improving meat production qualities (conformation and fattening level for early-maturing heavy lambs) while preserving maternal qualities (prolificacy, suckling abilities, etc.).


Key figures

  • 150,000 ewes
  • 29 flocks under official performance recording system
  • 2,918 ewes under on-farm official performance recording system
  • 58,973 artificial inseminations
  • Adult ewe weight:
    65 to 90 kg
  • Adult ram weight:
    80 to 150 kg
  • Prolificacy after natural estrus: 1.7
  • 30-day weight (singleton male): 15.3 kg
  • 70-day weight (singleton male): 31.4 kg
  • Average Daily Gain 30-70 days (singleton male): 398 g

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