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Breeds of Livestock, Department of Animal Science

Breeds of Livestock - Bavarian Forest Sheep

Breeds of Livestock - Bavarian Forest Sheep

Bavarian Forest

Also Known As: Waldschaf

The Bavarian Forest sheep, successor of the Bavarian Zaupel, is decreasing in popularity and has only been in the Bavarian herdbook since 1987. Nevertheless, it is an ancient and (once) widespread breed in its native region.

Breed history

First mention of the Bavarian Forest sheep's ancestor the Zaupelschaf, is in the year 1536, in a decree of Duke Ulrich of Wuerttemberg. Those who raised Zaupel sheep would be met with punishment, and that same decree endorsed the introduction of Flaemischer sheep. The Zaupelschaf was already having a tough time demand-wise, because of the increasing popularity of the Schlichtwolligen German sheep. It only persisted in Lower Bavaria at the farms of older generations.

In the year 1890, in a memorandum of the agricultural association, the situation in Lower Bavaria is described as: "The rural breeders deal in the breeds of the normal Zaupel, the Waldler and stone sheep." This was interpreted as the Zaupel, an already regionally distinctive sheep, being divided into two groups: Bavarian forest, the Waldlerschaf, and into a more alpine form, the stone sheep. These terms become generally accepted across the alpine and forest regions. In the later literature, the Zaupelschaf receives no more mention, and is considered extinct.

Present situation

The forest sheep breed took a pleasing upswing in Bavaria. While the forest sheep became more popular, the stone sheep is still quite small in number, only existing in the area of the Bavarian alps.

In 1960, a Bavarian working group for the preservation of forest and stone sheep was formed, with the goal of more intensive cooperation with the breeders to increase the population of both breeds. Later, the Danube land alliance for gene reserves (DAGENE) will dedicate itself to an internationally coordination of this goal.

The present stock in Bavaria covers over 200 sheep with 8 different Bavarian family lines. In addition, there's another 3 family lines come from Boehmen. In 1988, twenty sheep were imported for breeding purposes by the CSFR to increase the genetic diversity of these existing bloodlines.

Description of breed target

The description of breed target updated by the working group calls a small to medium sized, usually white sheep, although brown and black occur. The head profile is straight and the nasal bone is curved in the male. The ears are away horizontally or hanging.

Performance specification

The Bavarian Forest sheep can be kept in unfavorable climate. They are also notable for their high fertility, with an average lambing percentage of 180-200%. The dams have a good milk production with according to high raising rate of the lambs. The supports achieve a lebendgewicht from 60 to 70 kg, dams 40 - 55 kg. The mast performance of the lambs is with 180 to 200 g daily increase. This is achieved however without each force fodder addition. Feeding the dams takes place just as preferably extensively. The fleece weight achieves 3.5 kg with old supports and 3.0 kg with dams.

Future prospects

The forest sheep is still to be classified as endangered. Breeding goals as of now are to produce as large a number of animals as possible in order to obtain a large sample of genetic material, so they can start to select for better traits.

On the international level, cooperation with Austria and Tschechien persists, where residues of this sheep race are also found. Because of  economic restructuring in Tschechien, the Boehmi forest sheep is not nearly as threatened to become extinct.

Race responsible person:

Peter Neugebauer, Weisleithen 6, 94166 Stubenberg, Tel: 08571/8958


Gesellschaft zur Erhaltung alter und gefährdeter Haustierrassen e.V. (GEH),

Mason, I.L. 1996. A World Dictionary of Livestock Breeds, Types and Varieties. Fourth Edition. C.A.B International. 273 pp.


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