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Breeds of Livestock, Department of Animal Science

Breeds of Livestock - Xalda Sheep

Breeds of Livestock - Xalda Sheep



The Xalda (ALVAREZ SEVILLA et al.1982) is an endangered sheep breed mainly located in Asturias (Northern Spain). This breed has a marked cultural and aesthetic importance. The Xalda sheep may be included within the Celtic sheep breeds like the French Ouessant and the British Black Welsh and Morite. The Iberian sheep breeds that may be close to Xalda are extinct (Churra Berciana in Spain) or under a high risk of extinction (Bordaleira in Portugal). In 1980 hardly 800 pure reproductive females remained. During the 1990’s, breeders made a major effort to recover isolated herds and individuals by starting pure breed matings. Breeders are grouped since 1992 in ACOXA which is the responsible of the herdbook of the Breed. Nowadays, there is a program of conservation of the genetic variability of the breed financed by the INIA and the Principado de Asturias Regional Government (RZ00-020).

The Xalda individuals are typically small showing white, black or, in a lesser proportion, dark grey colour. Black and greyed individuals are frequently spotted in the forehead. There is no wool on the face (except a little pad on the head) or on the legs below the knee and hock. The rams are typically horned and the females are polled (hornless).

xalda-web-1.jpg References:

ALVAREZ SEVILLA, J.A., GARCÍA PELÁEZ, A., CORTÉS PÉREZ, J. 1982. Descripción de la oveja de raza Asturiana. Biol Cien Nat I.D.E.A., 30: 147-157.

GOYACHE, F., GUTIÉRREZ, J.P., FERNÁNDEZ, I., GÓMEZ, E., ÁLVAREZ, I. DÍEZ, J. ROYO, L.J. 2003. Using pedigree information to monitor genetic variability of endangered populations: the Xalda sheep breed of Asturias as an example. J Anim Breed Genet, 120: 95-103


Félix Goyache, Área de Genética y Reproducción Animal, SERIDA-CENSYRA-Somió, C/ Camino de los Claveles 604, E-33203 Gijón (Asturias) SPAIN


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Added August 11, 2003


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