Other common names: Rambouillet Merino; French Merino
The Rambouillet is a direct descendant of the Spanish Merino Sheep. A flock of Spanish Merinos were given to the French government by the King of Spain in the late 1700s. These sheep were taken to Rambouillet near Paris where they are still raised. The Rambouillet breed was further developed in Germany and the United States, and extensively used to improve the quality of lamb production as well as fine wool. Rambouillets are found in Europe, North America, and Australia.
Appearance / health:
Rambouillets are large sheep with white wool that is about 3 inches long and averages 8-18 pounds on a 55% yield. Rambouillets, considered dual-purpose sheep, are known to have a strong herding instinct. They are favored for being rugged and long-lived.
One of the most common ailments among sheep is a viral skin disease called soremouth or “orf.” Ringworm or “club lamb fungus” is a rash also common among sheep. And much like “mad cow disease,” sheep can have a similar neurological ailment called “scrapie.” Sheep health issues should be addressed by a qualified veterinarian. Good health is promoted by sanitary habitat conditions and proper nutrition.
Behavior / temperament:
Sheep are herd animals that rely on staying together as a flock to protect themselves from predators. They are highly sensitive to predators because they are basically “prey animals.” They sense the presence of threat from several hundred feet away (they are able to twist and turn their ears to detect potential danger) and instinctively flee instead of fight or attack. While fleeing, sheep run in a winding pattern to be able to see what is behind them.
As domesticated animals, sheep make good pets because they are docile and easily connect with humans, especially lambs that are bottle-fed. Miniature breeds and sheep that have hair instead of fur make ideal pets. Raising pet sheep is a popular project in the 4-H youth organization.
Housing / diet:
Sheep are grazing animals and do well living their entire lives outdoors. They get sufficient exercise and fresh air out in the field. They do need shelter from bad storms and unusually hot days. Many sheep keepers install field structures to provide shade, for example, hutches, domes, carports, and makeshift sheds. A common shade structure is a hoop house, like an open hangar or a greenhouse, which has a metal arched frame covered with tarp or other heavy-duty fabric.
Some sheep owners keep their flock in a barn or similar enclosure to protect them from predators. These enclosures must have very good ventilation because moisture and poor air conditions lead to the sheep’s poor health.
For warmth and comfort, bedding material should be provided. The best bedding is absorbent, clean, and dry. Some options are straw, wood shaving, sawdust, corncobs, dried corn stalks, peat, hemp, paper, and alfalfa hay. Preference is determined by cost, availability, convenience, and type of sheep. Wool sheep will not appreciate sawdust because it gets in their fleece. Paper is highly absorbent but difficult to manage in the field.
Lambs start with their mother’s milk and a light diet of pasture grass at two weeks old. After weaning the lambs from ewe’s milk at six weeks old, they can start eating dry feed of grains (wheat, oats, barley, cottonseed, corn), soybean and peanut hulls, and hay. The main diet of sheep is fresh grass and other forage and pasture vegetation. The pasture must be fertile and large enough to support the grazing of sheep for about seven hours a day (morning and afternoon). Fresh water must be constantly available, especially during the warm months and if the diet is mostly dry hay. Supplements are recommended, and must be given in the middle of the day to balance the sheep’s food intake.
beautiful calm breed, meat purposes, fine handspinning fleece, good mothering instincts
good sized lambs, interbred herd, 4H lamb, cross breeding
"We got Dolly from an ad in the paper. She was an old sheep, but we'd never had a sheep before, so we thought it might be a good experience. We had a herd of goats and figured they'd all get on well enough.<br><br>We were right. She fit right in. She was mostly just tired and old, but her disposition was good. She liked to be petted and would walk up to you in the yard, seemingly just to say hello. She towered above our pygmy goats and liked nothing more than to scratch herself on the fence.<br><br>Rambouillet sheep are known for their meat and fleece, but I don't have any experience with either. She was a pet, plain and simple. I never had any trouble with her biting or butting us. In fact, one day she saved a child after it had fallen into a well. Well, okay, that didn't actually happen. But if she'd gotten that opportunity, she probably would have hoofed in like a hero. <br><br>She was a nice old girl and I wish she was still around today. She never gave us any trouble and was good at keeping the weeds out of the yard. The only downside to owning a sheep, especially in the desert where I live, is that the wool has to be kept in check so that the animal doesn't overheat. And that stuff gets tangled and loaded with sticks. Kind of a pain to deal with.."
From carisomalley Sep 15 2013 12:10AM
"When we moved to our farm we inherited a flock of 30 sheep. This worked well for us since I had small children and would be working the sheep mostly by myself.<br><br>Of the 2 breeds we had the Rambouillet were my favorite.<br><br>These ewes were larger than the Suffolk and had a nicer temperament. Single births were more common but twins happened about 50% of the time. I never saw triplets from the Rambouillets. The lambs finished out slightly larger than the suffolks and were just as marketable. The ewes had a heaver fleece that was a higher quality which made it worth while to sort and sell it separately. <br><br>Sheep make a great farm yard animal especially if children are going to be around them. Their small size makes them easier to handle and less likely to do physical damage to their handlers.."
From PStushnoff Apr 13 2015 6:06PM
"Years ago I owned 2 sheep for meat purposes on my farm. They were very difficult to raise and take care of and weren't worth the effort. Whenever I fed them they charged at me with their horns - it wasn't pleasant. On top of that they constantly got out of their fenced in area, making me late for the day because I had to chase them down. Their meat was ok, but not something I am a fan of.."
From scarletwriter Dec 11 2012 10:33AM