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The breed is well established in the Vendée region of France for many hundred of years and said to owe some of its blood to sheep saved from the wreck of Spanish galleons at the time of the Armada.More definite links were seen to be established with an importation to the Vendée of Southdown sheep a little over a century ago.

More recently Vendéen sheep have been selected to satisfy the typical French demand for lean meat, whilst they have also been chosen for their hardiness in the wet and windy conditions of the Atlantic coast of France and even for their prolificacy. The impression formed has been that these are very practical sheep which appeal to practical sheep farmers who are seeking the best possible results from sheep which do not make excessive demands in terms of management and labour. They are of a quite temperament and easy to handle. They adapt well to being housed, particularly at lambing and they are good mothers.

Since the Vendéen breed have been in this country we have seen the sheep become established because of their quality and we look forward to the continuing, effective development of this very appealing breed.

The Vendéen breed is hardy and has proved to adapt well to most conditions in Ireland.The fleece remains close and so sheds water easily and does not open along the back, even in heavy rain. Vendéen lambs are fine to medium in bone and this contributes to the easy births, which are a feature of the breed. The lambs are born brisk and lively.

Growth rates of Vendéen cross lambs are similar to those for the majority of Continental terminal sires.It is possible to send top quality lambs for slaughter from 84 days to receive the highest quality of grading. Because the carcass has high lean content, heavier carcasses of 21kg or above will grade consistently well.They are well suited to both the home butcher’s market and the French market.




The head shows much character and presence

The head and cheeks carry wool

The ears are large and fine.


The face is brown and there is no wool on the face

The nose is reasonably long and the muzzle broad.


The body is long with a broad back, well sprung ribs, strong loin and deep gigot
The ewe is similar to the ram except the head is feminine and stylish
The adult male will weigh between 110 and 140 kg
The adult female will weigh between 80 and 110 kg
The legs are of medium bone and lightly covered
The Vendéen is not a long-legged breed but it should not be too close to the ground.


The fleece is of excellent quality being of fine down type and very uniform in fibre
length with no coarse, kempy wool on the lower part of the hindquarters
The staple length is typically 5 to 7 cm and the average fleece weight is 3.5kg per sheep
There shall be no black pigment within the fleece on the body.



The society is registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1893-1978 under the auspices of the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society Limited.The aim of the society is to encourage the breed commercially in Ireland and to support pedigree breeders in the improving of genetic lines of the core stock.Breeders are encouraged to participate in Sheep Ireland’s LambPlus recording scheme.

Involvement of the society in the showing of sheep at agricultural shows around the country is an integral part of the promotion of the stock to the commercial farmer. The mission statement and breeding objective of the Irish Vendéen Sheep Society Ltd. is “to promote and increase usage of Vendéen rams as a terminal sire among commercial sheep farmers”.

Committee Members

Breeding Programme

Rules of Procedure

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