Charolais lamb

History and rearing

Sheep farming through the years

Lamb produced in the Charolais is the result of selective sheep farming within the region over several centuries.

At the end of the 18th century sheep farming extended from the Morvan to the Charolais valleys and the plain of Bresse.  The breed of sheep was the « Morvandelle ». Principally these sheep were farmed to provide lamb and mutton for the Paris region.
With the expansion of the woollen industry the sheep farmers sought to improve the quality of the fleeces by importing the breed « Mérino »,  which was not however crossed with the local breeds.
Around 1820 the woollen industry suffered difficulties and the sheep farmer turned again to meat production. The breeding stock « Dishley » was introduced and crossed with the local flocks, producing meat of a consistent standard.  This brought about the birth of the race “Mouton Charolais”, also known as Mouton de Pays.     


Traditional and natural farming methods

 

5 months after gestation, lambing takes place between February and April.  
During the first two months of life the lambs are fed by their mothers. When Spring arrives the ewes and their lambs are put out to pasture.
After the lambs are weaned, whether they are reared indoors or outdoors, the lambs always have grass as the base of their diet.
In the 2 months after weaning a Charolais lamb will have consumed 4 ares of pasture (an are is 1/100 hectare) and between 30 and 50 kg of cereal based feed.

The lambs are sent for slaughter between 4 or 5 months old, having a live weight of about 35 to 40 kg.  During this production cycle a lamb will consume between 50 and 60 kg of fodder, hay, straw and cereal based feed.       



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