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Blonde and dark-faced latxa sheep in the Basque Country

The Latxa (Basque pronunciation: [latʃa]; Spanish: Lacho/Lacha) is a breed of domestic sheep native to the Basque Country of Spain. Mostly contained within the provinces of Biscay, Gipuzkoa and Navarre, Latxa are dairy sheep whose unpasteurized milk is used to produce Idiazábal and Roncal cheeses. There are two sub-types of the breed, a dark-faced and a blonde.

The breed is a medium or small-sized sheep with long, coarse wool. Ewes are polled or have short horns, while rams always possess long, spiral horns. The name latxa itself refers to the rough quality of the wool, which is largely an agricultural byproduct today.[1]

Latxa have a seasonal lactation cycle which does not produce as great a volume of milk as other dairy breeds. Recently some Basque Country farmers have begun to use hybrid Assaf sheep, which some maintain does not meet the Denomination of Origin for the cheese.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gomez, M; I. Amezaga (2003). "Conservation of livestock genetic resources in Euskadi (Basque Country)". Animal Genetic Resources Information Bulletin (FAO) (33). 
  2. ^ Schmitt, Maggie (May 27, 2009). "Sheep vs. Sheep in Basque Country". The Atlantic. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Ugarte, E.; Urarte, E.; Arrese, F.; Arranz, J.; Silio, L.; Rodriguez, C. (1996). "Genetic Parameters and Trends for Milk Production of Blond-Faced Latxa Sheep Using Bayesian Analysis". Journal of Dairy Science 79 (12): 2268–77. doi:10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(96)76604-3. PMID 9029366. 
  • Ruiz, R.; Oregui, L.M.; Herrero, M. (2000). "Comparison of Models for Describing the Lactation Curve of Latxa Sheep and an Analysis of Factors Affecting Milk Yield". Journal of Dairy Science 83 (11): 2709–19. doi:10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(00)75165-4. PMID 11104292.