Frabosana Roaschina Sheep

Ark of taste
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Native to the Cuneo valleys, until a few decades ago the Frabosana Roaschina was the most common dairy sheep breed in Piedmont. It was reared in the provinces of Cuneo (especially in the Monregalese), Turin, and Alessandria, but was gradually abandoned and replaced with Langhe sheep or crossed with other breeds, such as the Biellese, to improve meat production.

Thanks to its hardiness, it could graze in even the stoniest pastures and was well suited to marginal, inaccessible mountain areas, where a few pure-bred flocks have survived to the present day.

Similar in appearance to the Brigasca sheep, the Frabosana Roaschina is distinguished by a marked convex profile and flattened horns, spiraling in the rams and pointing backwards in the ewes. The sheep is medium in size, with straw-white or very pale brown wool and long, thin limbs.

The Frabosana Roaschina is mostly raised for its milk, which some producers turn into cheese, both in the winter and during the summer pasturing period, with the older animals slaughtered at the end of their reproductive life and their meat cured. Meat production is focused on the suckling lambs, whose meat lacks the strong flavor that occasionally characterizes lamb and mutton, and is facilitated by the breed’s early reproduction, with the first birth at around 13 months. The wool, sheared in the spring, is long, coarse and suited to the production of mattresses and carpets. The woolly skin of the lambs was once used to make gloves and other leather goods.
The animals graze freely when the weather allows and are taken up to mountain pastures during the summer. In the winter they are kept indoors and mostly fed locally grown hay.

From an estimated population in the 1950s of 16,000 to 17,000, the number of Frabosana Roaschina sheep has now fallen to between 6,000 and 7,000, and it is included on the list of breeds at risk of extinction. This is because many farmers have chosen to focus on more productive breeds. In order to promote the breed, a consortium was established in 1995, which adopted a protective brand for its products (cheese, meat and wool) in order to guarantee their origin. The Presidium will support the consortium’s activities to raise the profile of the breed, encourage its farming and ensure the small-scale sheep farmers receive an adequate return.

A fair for Frabosana Roaschina sheep is held in the municipality of Roaschia in early May, with an exhibition of the best specimens of the breed and tastings of various products.

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Production area:Gesso, Vermenagna, Pesio, Monregalese and Tanaro Valleys (Cuneo province); Chisone and Pellice Valleys (Torino province)

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Breeds and animal husbandry

Nominated by:Carlo Rocca