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History of the Ile de France Breed

Ile de France in South Africa

The history of the Ile de France in South Africa can be traced back to 1903, when Madam Arnaud Ginchard sent a number of Ile de France sheep as a gift to the farming community of South Africa (De Panillac 1903). The sheep originated from the well-known breeder, Delacour from Gouzangrez. The number of sheep sent as a gift is not known. The sheep arrived in Table Bay harbour on 23 March 1903 and left the Concordia after being examined by a veterinary surgeon. A photo of the Ile de France ram was published in the Cape Argus of 29 April 1903 after release from quarantine. Further movements of the sheep are unfortunately not known. During the 1930’s great interest was experienced in South Africa for the breeding of slaughter lambs for export. Different well known mutton breeds were introduced by the Department of Agriculture and other organisations. It was also during this period that crossbreeding programmes lead to the development of breeds such as the Dorper, Dormer, Dohne and others (almost identical to a hundred years previously when the Ile de France was bred).

Shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War, Messrs. Frasers Limited imported a number of Ile de France rams. These rams went to their farm, Aanvang in the Wepener district, where they were used on Merino ewes. This cross was very successful resulting that 33 ewes were presented to the Research Institution in Pretoria for further research purposes. These animals performed very well on the following qualities: duration of the breeding season, lambing percentage, milk production, survival potential, as well as adaption to unfavourable climatic conditions. Due to the war no further imports were possible. It took another 30 years before Ile de France were again seen in South Africa… During the 1930s and 1970s, sheep were imported for research purposes. The first commercial Ile de France sheep were imported in 1972 by private breeders. Further imports founded the breed in South Africa.

The Ile de France Breeder’s Society was established in 1980.


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