The Biellese sheep is a breed of domestic sheep which was originated from Italy. It is a large breed and indigenous to the province of Biella, in Piedmont in north-western Italy. And the breed is named so from this area. It is also known by some other names such as the Razza d’Ivrea, after the town of Ivrea, or also known as the Piemontese Alpina.
Exact origins of the Biellese sheep are unknown. It was considered by some to be a sub-type of the Bergamasca breed in the early part of the 20th century. Previously the breed was numerous in the Biella area. And the total population was estimated at 40,000 in 1942. And it’s total population decreased sharply after the Second World War. Interest in the breed revived in the 1960s, and it was recognized officially by the then Ministero dell’Agricoltura e delle Foreste in 1985. And a herdbook was established in 1986. There were more than 50,000 head of which around 1900 were registered in the herdbook.
The Biellese sheep is one of the 17 autochthonous Italian sheep breeds, for which a genealogical herdbook is kept by the Associazione Nazionale della Pastorizia. The Associazione Nazionale della Pastorizia is the Italian national association of sheep-breeders. There were about 1016 registered animals at the end of 2013. Today the Biellese sheep breed is mainly found in Piedmont region in northern Italy. Read some more information about this Italian sheep breed below.
Biellese Sheep Characteristics
The Biellese sheep are large animals. They are generally complete white in coloration with white face and legs. Their skin color is pinkish and both rams and ewes are polled. It is one of the Lop-eared Alpine group of sheep breeds.
Average body height of the mature Biellese rams is around 86 cm at the withers, and around 81 for the ewes. Average live body weight of the mature ewes is around 82 kg. And average live body weight of the mature rams is around 100 kg. Photo and info from Wikipedia.
The Biellese sheep were previously used as a dual-purpose animals. But now they are raised mainly as a meat sheep breed for producing meat.
The Biellese sheep are hardy animals, and they are well suited to their native area. They were previously raised as dual-purpose animals for producing both meat and wool. But now the breed is raised mainly for meat production. The lambs are generally slaughtered when they reach between 12 and 15 kg or rarely at 18-20 kg.
Wool of the Biellese sheep is of carpet quality. The rams generally produce about 3.5 kg, and the ewes around 3 kg per year. The breed is also commonly used for hybridization with other sheep breeds such as the Garessina, Frabosana, the Sambucana and the Savoiarda for improving growth rate and meat yield. However, review full breed profile of the Biellese sheep in the following chart.
Biellese Sheep | Breed Profile
|Other Names||Razza d’Ivrea, Piemontese Alpina|
|Special Notes||Well adapted to local climates, very hardy animals, previously raised as a dual-purpose animal for producing both meat and wool, but today raised mainly for meat production, lambs are generally slaughtered when they reach around 12-15 kg, their wool is of carpet quality, the breed is also used for hybridization with other sheep breeds|
|Weight||Mature ram’s average body weight is around 100 kg, and the mature ewe’s average live body weight is around 82 kg.|
|Climate Tolerance||Native climates|
|Country/Place of Origin||Italy|