Roussin de la Hague sheep originate from Normandy in France around the 18th Century. Today’s Roussins are a result of the development of the breed in the 1920s with the introduction of Dishley Leicester, Suffolk and Southdown blood to increase size and conformation. In France, the Roussin are grass fed sheep and do well in the oceanic climate of the ‘de la Hague’ region. They are known to cope well on poor ground and are easy to keep and naturally prolific (200% is common). The breed is strictly managed in France with the need for lambs to meet performance criteria in order to qualify for breed registration. A progeny testing centre was set up in 2003 to evaluate traits and monitor scrapie to preserve the future of the breed (Text taken from www.racesdefrance.fr ).
The breed has been bred in the UK for several decades. The UK Roussin is compact and hardy and has been bred with a commercial relevance to the UK market. The breed is true to its French roots but breeders are expected to preserve the strengths of the breed. Performance recording is actively encouraged within the society, more information can be found here.
The breed has strong maternal characteristics along with good growth and muscling and easy lambing traits – making it an excellent breed for producing maternal replacements, from any breed of ewe, and male offspring that will grass finish within the same season. The easy-lambing capabilities make it a first choice ram for use with commercial ewe lambs with the added benefit of ‘out of season’ breeding for early season lamb production. Strong ‘mule’ ewes are bred successfully by using Roussin rams on hill ewes.
For members interested in showing, a breed standard can be found here.