Meat breed.

Origin of the breed

The Ile de France has been bred in France since 1822. The first Ile de France sheep arrived in South Africa in 1903. It was a present from a madame Arnaud Ginchard to the “boere” of South Africa. These sheep were from the stud of the famous French breeder, Delacour of Gouzangrez. 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. The Ile de France Breeder’s Society was established in 1980.


The Ile de France is a large, smooth-bodied, polled mutton sheep. It produces strong white wool of acceptable quality, free from coloured fibres.

Production norms

Birth weight: 3 – 5kg

42-day weight: 19 – 24 kg

100-day weight: 34 – 41 kg

Adult ewes: 70 – 90 kg

Fleece weight of ewes: 3 – 4.5 kg

Fibre diameter: 23 – 27 μm.


• Meat – Early maturity ensures a slaughter lamb ready for market at an early age which produces a quality carcass at 100 days.

• Wool – Strong white wool, free of kemp and coloured fibres.

• Crossbred lambs – Used as sire line for cross breeding. Crossbred lambs are heavier with a better fat distribution.


Production Qualities

Birth Mass

Lambs are small under normal feeding practices (appr. 4 kg) and lambing problems seldom occur. Due to the remarkable vigour of the lambs together with the outstanding mothering ability of the ewes, the birth mortality rate is limited to a minimum.

Growth Rate

The Ile de France lamb has excellent growth abilities and with good nutrition, weights of between 19 and 22 kg at 42 days and between 34 and 41 kg at 100 days can easily be achieved. Hence the popularity of the Ile de France and Ile de France cross lambs – it enables the producer of slaughter lambs to market lambs from as early as 100 days and, therefore, more ewes can be kept on the same size of pasture.

Carcass Qualities

Results achieved at the National Carcass Competition undoubtedly prove that the Ile de France has outstanding carcass characteristics. (Dressing percentages of up to 53% where 66.4% has been officially recorded)

The Characteristics are:

  • Free of excessive fat
  • Outstanding muscle development
  • Large percentage of better cuts

Sexual maturity

Ewe lambs can be mated at an early age provided that they are well-developed with an average body mass of approximately 55 kg. This outstanding early sexual maturity enables the breeder to increase total longetivity lamb production.


The ability to breed “out of season” makes it possible to let ewes lamb every 7-8 months, which in practice means that 1,3 natural cycle pregnancies per year are achieved.


Ewes have an outstanding multiple pregnancy ability and lambing percentages of between 150 to 170% are achieved in flocks. Where the system of three lambing seasons in two years is adopted, a lambing percentage of 220% per annum is no exception. The prolificy of a ewe is determined by her age rather than by season of lambing. Provided that they are well-developed rams can be used from the age of 10 months. Ile de France rams are non seasonal active workers.

Milk Production and Mothering Ability

Due to the exceptionally good milk yield of ewes twins and triplets are reared without difficulty. As a result of outstanding mothering abilities a close linked bond exists between the ewes and lambs.


Ewes still produce lambs at the age of 9-10 years depending on nutrition. The case on record of a ewe of 11 years that produced 29 lambs is indeed proof to substantiate this fact.


Ile de France are found in more than 30 countries around the world. The breed is renowned for its excellent performance under semi-intensive, intensive and extensive conditions.

Wool qualities

The Ile de France produces a white, strong wool (23 – 27 micron) with a fleece free of pigmentation. The weight of a 12-month fleece is 3 – 4,5kg for ewes and 5-6 kg for rams with a staple of between 80 and 90 mm. First generation crosses with Merino ewes produce an outstanding medium wool.

Crossing ability

As a terminal sire, the Ile de France ram conveys its exceptional conformation, muscle development and fast growth rate to its progeny with dominating effect. This quality is mainly responsible for the popularity of the Ile de France ram amongst producers of slaughter lambs and the breed indeed makes a big contribution, to supply the consumer with good quality lamb. Ile de France cross-bred females are high in demand due to their fertility, good milk production and outstanding mothering ability.