in the United
States, identified by many as a range breed in Texas and Western states, have become popular in farm flocks as well. Most adult Rambouillets
will have a fleece weight of 8 to 14 pounds, with a clean fleece yield of 45 to 60 percent. Typically, fleece staple length will vary
from two to four inches, and range in fiber diameter from 18.5 to 23 microns or 64s to 70s spin count. Mature Rambouillet rams weigh between 250 and 300 pounds, and ewes average from 165 to 200 pounds. Generally,
range ewes will raise single lambs, although farm-bred ewes will frequently exceed a 200% lamb crop.
The history of the Rambouillet sheep began more than two centuries ago. The Rambouillet breed originated
with Spain's famed Merino flocks which were known from the earliest times as producers of the world's finest wool.The Spanish
government was so protective of their Merino flocks that any exportation was forbidden. This policy changed in 1786, however,
when the King of Spain granted a request from the government of France and sent 359 carefully selected rams and ewes to help
improve the native French stock. The sheep were sent to the Rambouillet farm near Paris where, according to government records, they have been bred since 1801. Other Merino sheep were introduced into Germany during the last quarter of the 18th century, and German breeders made extensive use of Rambouillet sires as the breed's fame spread throughout Europe. Many present day American Rambouillets can trace their ancestry back to either German von Homeyer flocks or the flocks of Rambouillet, France.
Some of the characteristics which make the Rambouillets a good choice for small flock owners as well as in range operations are their highly developed flocking instinct, excellent and protective mothering abilities, excellent soft fleeces, and fast growth rate and weight-gain in lambs. The gregariousness within a flock makes them easy to manage as a group, since they always wish to be with their flockmates. Their mothering ability is more intense than in many other breeds, with them being very defensive of their babies towards other ewes and towards strangers. Rambouillet ewes are good milkers, and it's not unusual to find lambs exceeding 80 pounds at 70 days, when good management and free-choice creep feed are available.
Rambouillet fleeces are wonderful for handspinning! So beautifully soft, and being a Merino type, very easy to wear next to the skin. Most Rambouillets are white, although occasionally genetic throw-backs yield soft blue-gray to deep black natural colors. Since the fleeces are so dense, blanketing the sheep is not as necessary as in more open-fleeced breeds, however, for a premium fleece some flock owners still coat the sheep. A nice use of Rambouillet is to blend it with first or second shearing kid mohair to add lustre and intensify the color if dyeing the fiber.
The rams, even though they are quite large, are generally easy to manage if they are not turned into pets. Like any other ram, a little distance makes for safer handling.
The breed registry is American Rambouillet Breeders' Association, 2709 Sherwood Way, San Angelo, TX 76901 Phone: 915-949-4414. Information on Rambouillet sheep can be found at the website of a regional member association, The Greater Wisconsin Rambouillet Association.
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