Breed name: Sardinian breed

Species: Sheep 

Country: Italy

Aptitudes: Dairy

Risk Status: Not at Risk

History: The Sardinian is an autochthonous breed of Sardinia, developed over a long time for local environments and needs, and probably originating, like the majority of Mediterranean breeds, from the large Asian stock.

Description: The Sardinian is a medium sized animal (60-80 cm in withers height), with a live-weight ranging from 60 to 80 Kg for males and from 45 to 55 Kg for females. It has a light, polled head (sometimes vestigial horns are present in males) with a straight or slightly ram-like profile and medium-sized horizontal ears, an extended trunk, deep thorax, straight back and broad abdomen. Its udder is well-developed with a large cistern and teats of medium size (16 mm in diameter and 27 mm in length) implanted at quite a high level (60°-70°), globular with great sinuses, suitable for both hand and machine milking. It is a typical coarse-wooled breed showing a white (black spots appear sometimes) open fleece of mixed wool and hair with pointed staples stretching halfway down the foreleg and a little further up the hock.


Breed name: Barbarine

Species: Sheep 

Country: Tunisia

Aptitudes: Meat

Status: Not at Risk

History: The Barbarine is the most characteristic type of sheep in Tunisia, it is also called Nejdi or Arbi sheep and originates from the Asiatic steppes. It has been documented that its history in Tunisia was marked by 2 waves of introduction, firstly, by the Phoenicians about 400 B.C. and secondly, with the Arab invasion around 900 A.D.

Description: Barbarine is a medium-sized meat-type sheep characterised by creamy wool, coopered-red or black coloured faces and legs, wide and pendulous ears, a flat and slightly concave forehead and usually the absence of horns. The head and legs are bare and the wool varies from coarse and kempy to medium-fine and wavy. The Barbarine sheep are known for their hardiness and their ability to adapt to either warm or cold climates. Height of adult animals ranges from 60 to 80 cm in males and from 55 to 70 cm in females, and animals appear robust and vigorous. The main physical feature of the Barbarine animals is the presence of the fat tail, a bilobed sack of fat due to an accumulation of fat reserves on each side of the coccygeal vertebra. The fat tail presents large variations in shape and size due to genetic and other environmental factors (physiological stage, feeding level etc.) and could reach up to 15% of the total carcass weight in well-shaped adult animals. The fat tail represents a natural obstacle to free mating, and the shepherd assistance is needed to lift it at copulation time.


Breed name: Noire de Thibar

Species: Sheep 

Country: Tunisia

Aptitudes: Meat

Status: Not at Risk

History: Originally selected by the White Fathers in their domain of Thibar, in the north-west of Tunisia, the Black of Thibar originated from crosses between the Algerian Gharbi and the Black Merino of Arles. 

Breed of sheep from the northern coast of Tunisia, mixed, for meat and wool. This breed, officially recognized in 1945, lives in Tunisia and the Middle East. It was created in the domain of the White Fathers of St Joseph de Thibar, in the Medjerda basin, the former “granary of Rome”, 21 km from Beja, Tunisia from 1911. In the first generation, two types of crossings were implemented by Brother Novat: 

– black Merino ram from Arles (from the Crau) x Algerian fine-tailed ewes,

– pure Merino ram x black Algerian ewes.

Then the selection was made on the black color (9 years), then on the wool by consanguinity, and was accompanied by a rational feeding. In the 1970s, blood from the Brown-Black sheep breed of Switzerland was infused. The breed is in full expansion in the northwest and east of Tunisia.

Description: This breed of sheep has many advantages: meat less fat, its taste quality is proven, and the quality of its wool is unanimous. Its black color has been sought to combat the photosensitivity to which the local breeds of light color are subject, particularly as a result of consumption of St. John’s wort. This sheep, a medium-sized meat animal (adult weight 65.1 ± 8.7 kg), has a thin tail and coarse wool. The black coloring of the skin was sought to fight against the photosensitization (“Hamra”) that local light-colored breeds consuming St. John’s wort present. The head is elongated, with a full forehead, subconcave, without horns. The thin ears are horizontal or slightly erect. The trunk is almost cylindrical. The limbs are thin. The skin and the mucous membranes are pigmented. The fleece is black, leaving only the head, the throat, the inside of the tail and the perineum exposed.Its abilities are the production of wool first, then meat. Prolificity can reach 140%.


Breed name: Sicilo-Sarda

Species: Sheep 

Country: Tunisia

Aptitudes: Meat

Status: Not at Risk

History: The Sicilo-Sarda is the only Tunisian dairy sheep breed. Milk from this breed is used in a micro-sector of cheese production. Numbers of sheep from this breed fell significantly during the 1990s, due to unfavorable economic and political choices, as well as a lack of technical control of livestock, which risked the sustainability of this cheese production sector. However, initiatives to preserve this breed have taken place in recent years.  The Sicilo-Sarda breed shows low levels of milk production but this can be improved even in extensive systems. The Sicilian-Sardinian breed takes its name from a cross between two breeds from the South of Italy, considered among the best sheep breeds in the Mediterranean basin: the Comisana and the Sardinian, originating respectively from Sicily and Sardinia. At the beginning of the 20th century, Sicilian farmers arrived in Tunisia with animals of the Comisana and Sardinian breeds to satisfy their own needs in cheese. They settled in the hills of northern Tunisia, around the governorate of Beja and the delegation of Mateur in the governorate of Bizerte. This animal population has allowed to fix the sicilosarde race (Aurejac et al., 2007) which continues today to be encountered mainly in the north of the country. The subhumid climate characteristic of these regions is favorable to an important fodder production and a good development of the natural meadows. 

Description: In terms of general configuration, the Sicilian breed is characterized by an average height at the withers varying between 70 and 80 cm. The average weight of the adult is 45 kg for the female and 65 to 75 kg for the male. This breed has a very variable coat color, which can be white, black, or spotted. The shape of the fleece is heterogeneous and garish. The head is slightly elongated. The profile is straight with a slight curve, the tail is thin and long, and the limbs are thin. The horns are small and longer in males than in females. The ears are small and horizontal, and the muzzle is straight. The neck is long. The trunk is elongated, and the abdomen is ample. The mammary gland is well developed and has a strong attachment with straight teats.


Breed name: Queue fine de l’Ouest

Species: Sheep 

Country: Tunisia

Aptitudes: Meat

Status: Not at Risk

History: The Western Tail breed also known as “Bergui” is a mixed breed for milk and meat, and driven according to an extensive way of driving. It is a breed of Algerian origin and currently this breed occupies the western regions of Tunisia.  

Description: Among its characteristics, the long legs allow it to cover very large distances daily and to better exploit the courses of these areas. The dress is most often white, sometimes spotted with red, with a fleece that is less widespread than that of the Barbarine breed but more homogeneous and finer.