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Manech Tete Noire and Manech Tete Rousse   French EFABIS Data1   EFABIS Data2


International Name

Manech Tete

Local Name

Manech Tete


Pyrenees and Sud-Ouest

Breeding females



Trend of population size


Flock book established



Origin – history

The origins of the Manech are now lost: they have always had a presence in the western Pyrenees.


 Breed description

The Manech are milking sheep of the Pyrenees (Atlantiques). The two very hardy breeds are well adapted to high grazing lands and to extreme variations in temperature. For the Manech Tete Noire, the seasonal migration every summer facilitates the economic survival of many very small farms. 100% of each breed’s ewes are pure-bred. The ewes need little attention, which permits a heavy stocking rate per hectare, and they are good milkers, easy to milk and suitable for out of season breeding. Lambings take place from November to April, and lambs weaned at the age of 1 month are appreciated for celebration meals such as Easter. Milk production starts after weaning at 35 days of age, and is all is used in the production of pressed cheeses, under the label of origin "Ossau-Iraty".
The Manech Tete Noire has a black head and feet with both sexes having strongly curled horns. They have good fleece coverage, with the legs not covered. The mature rams weigh 75kg, and the ewes weigh 50kg. The Manech Tete Rousse has red head and feet, only the male can be horned. The mature rams weigh 70kg, and the ewes weigh 45kg.


Conservation activities

First established in 1975, the selective breeding plan for the milking breeds allows stockbreeders to achieve levels of productivity that fully justify such livestock farming in these difficult areas. This plan uses the monitoring of milk and widespread use of artificial insemination in selective breeding flocks. A breeding centre situated at Ordiarp (Pyrenees-Atlantiques), where every year 200 young rams Manech Tete Rousse and 50 Manech Tete Noire from planned matings are assembled. Among these, 130 Manech Tete Rousse and 30 Manech Tete Noire are tested on the milk output (quantity and now also composition) of their female offspring in the farms of the selection nucleus. The best of these are used in artificial insemination and as priority in planned matings with the 5 000 ram dams in Manech Tete Rousse and 15 00 ram dams in Manech Tete Noire, to produce the new generation of males. The selection scheme has so far achieved an annual genetic progress of 2,6 and 4 litres for the Manech Tete Noire and Manech Tete Rousse respectively.



                Quartier Ahetzia 64 130 Ordiarp - France

                Tel : +33 (0)5 59 28 19 90

Action Heritage Sheep AGRI GEN RES 040 receives financial support from the European Commission, Genetic Resources in Agriculture, under European Commission Council Regulation (EC) No 870/2004 AGRI GEN RES 2006 HERITAGE SHEEP