Merina sheep

Merina sheep

logoAnimal census for research purposes

logoCICYTEX´s Merina flocks

Currently, the Scientific and Technological Centre of Extremadura (CICYTEX) has two flocks of Merina sheep. One of them remains at Finca Valdesequera with an area of 718 hectares. This is a dehesa area with holm oaks being used as natural improved pastureland and for the growing of cereals and legumes.

The sheep flock at Finca Valdesequera with the update of its census, was 469 ewes and 26 rams at the start of 2021.

The other flock is in Finca La Orden, which combines rainfed and irrigations plots of land. The rainfed area, where the sheep graze, is 110 hectares, whiles the irrigation plot is 95 hectares.

The animal census at Finca La Orden is 145 ewes and 45 rams in 2021.

The pasturelands are used by grazing sheep and, at times of scarcity, their feeding requirements are supplemented with cereals which are generally coming from the crops of both plots (barley, triticale, corn, oats, etc.), commercial fodder, agro industrial by-products, as well as hay and straw. Supplements are added according to the physiological condition of the animals.

The reproductive management system in both flocks consists of 3 lambings in 2 years. When a batch of animals starts to lamb, the other batch of animals is mating. Rams are introduced for mating in the group every three months (March-April, August-September, December-January) with lambing taking place in December-January, April-May, August-September. The spring mating is conducted with the support of hormonal treatments, when necessary, as sheep are non in heat during this time due to the rising of light intensity (there are more hours of light than dark). Sheep are seasonally polyoestrus and short-day breeders.

The heads from both flocks are registered to the genealogic book of their breed within the National Association of Merina Breed, as well as belonging to CORDEREX (Extremadura Protected Geographic Identification).