La revue Viandes et produits carnés

La revue française de la recherche en viandes et produits carnés  ISSN  2555-8560

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Meat sheep production in France, Part I

This article is the first of a two part series providing an updated overview of the sector, from breeding to consumption. These articles were taken from the chapter on "Meat sheep production” in the collective work "Productions Animales from A to Z" to be published by the Editions Lavoisier. In order to focus on meat production, we removed the wordings related to reproduction, diseases and treatments included in the original text.
In 2010, France was number six in Europe for its sheep breeding stock. Over the last thirty years, meat sheep production in France has suffered significant erosion in relation to economic difficulties, but recent specific support (health check of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in late 2008 and "Plan Barnier" in early 2009) has led to a significant increase in the income per employee in meat sheep production One of the specificities of the French meat sheep production is the large diversity in production systems, together with a large diversity in the breeds linked to the corresponding ‘terroirs’ and management practices. To this diversity in production systems corresponds broadly two different lamb fattening practices, stall-feeding indoors with concentrates and hay (or straw) and pasture-feeding. This paper highlights the influence of lamb fattening practices on lamb meat and carcass qualities. The techno-economic performances of French meat sheep production systems are highly variable, with on average, high levels of concentrate consumption, in relation with a widespread use of stall-fattening for lambs. The main objective now is to search for more sustainable production systems, which are at the same time productive, low-input demanding, respectful towards the environment, and attractive for young farmers.

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