The first Rambouillet sheep arrived in 1786 thanks to Louis XIV in what was still only an experimental royal farm.
A model farm developing innovation
The establishment in which the famous sheep of Rambouillet are located was created by Louis XVI, to be a model farm developing innovation, acquired its fame throughout the world thanks to its exceptional herd, of 366 merino sheep, imported from Spain at the request of this King and came on foot, accompanied by four Spanish shepherds, from Segovia. These animals living in the open air in Spain and the experiments of Daubenton seeming to prove that it could be the same in Rambouillet, no specific buildings had been planned for them. We quickly saw that it was not possible to leave these sheep outside in the Rambolitan climate and temporary accommodation in the barns made up for this lack.
Having become a national herd during the revolution, the precious treasure is kept as national wealth.
A cradle of exceptional breeders
At the end of the 18th century, Napoleon Bonaparte, 1st Consul, launched a major operation to import merinos from Spain to merinize French breeds. A small number of newly imported animals reached Rambouillet. This second introduction is significantly inferior in quality to the first. The sheep are not mixed with the former. In 1805, Napoleon 1st offered the herd an imperial court where it was comfortably installed in new sheepfolds.
The herd thus formed improves year after year and becomes a cradle of exceptional breeders sought after by the sheep countries of the five continents.
In the 19th century, through the export of many breeders, it had an important role in improving the wool of many countries in Europe and the southern hemisphere, in particular Australia, Argentina, South Africa…
The evolution of the herd in the 20th century
In the 20th century, the national herd was a jewel that all the master shepherds endeavored to maintain in the best possible condition. Their breeding practices, herd management with their sheepdogs, of the Beauceron breed, are among the best. They are recognized throughout France and the school is a national symbol.
Today, the National Sheepfold houses a genetic conservatory for the merino breed. The small herd of Rambouillet, witness to the evolution of sheep breeding from the Middle Ages to the 18th century, still serves as a reference and a support for research.
A national symbol
La Bergerie Nationale occupies 250 hectares of a national estate located 50 km south-west of Paris. The exploitation of the National Sheepfold continues to be a support for research and experimentation. It strives to demonstrate the virtues of multifunctional agriculture in an agroecological approach.
La Bergerie offers numerous training courses on animal welfare, the handling of sheep and cattle, the transport of live animals, ethology (behavioral science) and agroecology.
It is also a training center hosting an apprentice training center (CFA) in the horse, agriculture and animal health professions, as well as the vocational training and agricultural promotion center (CFPPA). These two public establishments are under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.