In France, the selection of dairy sheep has been implemented on the basis of local purebred breeding programs : the Lacaune breed in the Roquefort area (south of Massif Central), the Red-Faced and Black-Faced Manech and Basco-Béarnaise breeds in the western Pyrenean mountains and the Corsican breed in the Corsica island. The breeding schemes, started in the seventies, are now fully efficient, and based on a pyramidal management of the population, with the selection nucleus flocks (about 20% of the whole population) producing the genetic gain, and the commercial flocks utilizing it. Table 1 shows how widely the genetic tools are used. Such breeding schemes allow for accurate genetic evaluation of the animals. In France, as for cattle and goats, the genetic evaluation is being developed by INRA. The current dairy sheep genetic evaluation has been running since 1992 for dairy traits using a BLUP animal model with repeated records (Barillet et al., 1992, Astruc et al., 1995), and has benefited since then from the evolutions of dairy cattle genetic evaluation such as heteroscedastic model (Robert-Granié et al., 1999). Nevertheless, many characteristics of dairy sheep have been included in the genetic evaluation of dairy sheep. 

J. M Astruc, Francis Barillet, A. Barbat, V. Clement, Didier Boichard

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 2002. Session 1, , 1.45, 2002
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