Manex Tête Noire Lamb

France

Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes

Breeds and animal husbandry

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Manex Tête Noire Lamb

The Manex Tête Noire sheep, nicknamed “the conquering princess of the Basque mountains,” is the most rustic of the four sheep breeds found in the French Basque Country (the others being the latxa cara negra, the manex tête rousse, and the latxa cara rubia) and has been an integral part of the Vallée des Aldudes landscape for centuries. Like the more numerous tête rousse, the tête noire originated in Asia and was perhaps imported by the Arabs. Unlike other Pyrenean breeds, over time it has not been crossed with Merino sheep.
The sheep’s presence in the Basque Country is closely linked to the ancient tradition of transhumance, the seasonal migration of livestock. Every year in early spring, the flocks are taken up to the highest pastures of the Pyrenees. This medium-sized breed is characterized by black legs and face, a thick coat of wool, and long, spiral-shaped horns, and is farmed primarily for its milk, which is used in cheesemaking.
For the small-scale sheep farmers, however, the sale of the lambs, mostly born between December and March, provides an important supplement to the family income, especially in the areas around Garazi-Baigorri, Iholdi-Oztibarre, and Soule. The lambs grow up in an unspoiled environment and feed only on their mothers’ milk. Their slightly rosy meat is delicate and tender. The lamb is traditionally served during the Easter period, the legs roasted in the oven and the other cuts used in stews.

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In the Basque Country, the lamb is primarily consumed at home at Easter, but only a limited amount of meat is sold locally. The farmers depend heavily on export to Spain, where demand for the lambs goes up around Christmas. The production of the milk-fed lambs represents an essential source of income for the farmers of the breed, through the returns are not adequate. The Manex Tête Noire breed is in decline because even though it is very well suited to mountain pasturing, it is less productive than other local breeds. In the 1980s there were 220,000 head, and today only 85,000 remain. To save it, it will be necessary to guarantee a more secure—and therefore local—market, and more profitable prices.

Production area
Atlantic Pyrenees province, Aquitaine region, northern Basque Country

Presidium supported by
Leader and Feader European projects, Aquitaine region, Atlantic Pyrenees province, Arrapitz association
Jean-Marie Astabie
Aozteia
tel. +33 631714996
seb.aozteia@hotmail.fr

Peio Eliceits
Garatea - Suhuskune
tel. +33 686727014
eliceitspeio@hotmail.fr

Peio Etcheverria
Arneguy - Xaltroinia
jean-pierre_etcheverria@orange.fr

Paxkal Harispuru
Bunuze - Ibarraintzinia
tel. +33 607893935

Ximun Lucu
Maison Abehetia
64130 Musculdy
tel. +33 689081209
ximun_lucu@yahoo.fr

Jean Bernard Maitia
Aincille - Maison Landartia Cabalgagne
tel. +33 630589468

Mikel Negueloua
Saint Juste Ibarre - Ekibegia
tel. +33 687678680

Argitxu Ouret
Aintzile - Etxeberrigaraia
tel. +33 787403749
estebe.ouret@nordnet.fr
Presidium coordinator

Associazione Buru Beltza Elkartea
Tél. +33 631714996
+33 675886451/559375458
burubeltza.elkartea@gmail.com
In the Basque Country, the lamb is primarily consumed at home at Easter, but only a limited amount of meat is sold locally. The farmers depend heavily on export to Spain, where demand for the lambs goes up around Christmas. The production of the milk-fed lambs represents an essential source of income for the farmers of the breed, through the returns are not adequate. The Manex Tête Noire breed is in decline because even though it is very well suited to mountain pasturing, it is less productive than other local breeds. In the 1980s there were 220,000 head, and today only 85,000 remain. To save it, it will be necessary to guarantee a more secure—and therefore local—market, and more profitable prices.

Production area
Atlantic Pyrenees province, Aquitaine region, northern Basque Country

Presidium supported by
Leader and Feader European projects, Aquitaine region, Atlantic Pyrenees province, Arrapitz association
Jean-Marie Astabie
Aozteia
tel. +33 631714996
seb.aozteia@hotmail.fr

Peio Eliceits
Garatea - Suhuskune
tel. +33 686727014
eliceitspeio@hotmail.fr

Peio Etcheverria
Arneguy - Xaltroinia
jean-pierre_etcheverria@orange.fr

Paxkal Harispuru
Bunuze - Ibarraintzinia
tel. +33 607893935

Ximun Lucu
Maison Abehetia
64130 Musculdy
tel. +33 689081209
ximun_lucu@yahoo.fr

Jean Bernard Maitia
Aincille - Maison Landartia Cabalgagne
tel. +33 630589468

Mikel Negueloua
Saint Juste Ibarre - Ekibegia
tel. +33 687678680

Argitxu Ouret
Aintzile - Etxeberrigaraia
tel. +33 787403749
estebe.ouret@nordnet.fr
Presidium coordinator

Associazione Buru Beltza Elkartea
Tél. +33 631714996
+33 675886451/559375458
burubeltza.elkartea@gmail.com

Other info

CategoriesBreeds and animal husbandry