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Conservation status FAO (2007): not at risk[1]:68
Other names Moscia Leccese
Country of origin Italy
Distribution Salento peninsula
Use Triple-purpose, primarily for milk
  • Male: 59 kg
  • Female: 45 kg
  • Male: 73 cm
  • Female: 66 cm
Wool color white, occasionally black
Face color black

The Leccese or Moscia Leccese is a breed of domestic sheep indigenous to the Salento peninsula, in Puglia, southern Italy.[2][3] Its name derives from that of Lecce, the principal city of the peninsula. Like the Pinzirita and the Altamurana, it belongs to the Zackel sheep group. It is a hardy and frugal breed, usually kept in semi-feral herds, capable of surviving year-round on pasture alone. The wool is normally white and the skin flesh-coloured with darker mottlings. In a small proportion of animals the wool is entirely black, and the skin is also black; these black-skinned sheep are resistant to the effects of the poisonous Hypericum crispum, common in the Salento, which in the white-woolled, pale-skinned sheep causes photosensitivity and thus dermatitis.[3]

The Leccese is one of the seventeen autochthonous Italian sheep breeds for which a genealogical herdbook is kept by the Associazione Nazionale della Pastorizia, the Italian national association of sheep-breeders.[4] The herd-book was established in 1972.[2] Total numbers for the breed were estimated at 240,000 in 1983;[3][2] in 2013 the number recorded in the herd-book was 574.[5]

The milk yield of the Leccese averages 76 ± 21 litres in 180 days for primiparous, and 99 ± 37 l for pluriparous, ewes. The milk has 7% fat and 6.5% protein.[4] Lambs are usually slaughtered at about 90 days, when they weigh approximately 23 kg. Rams yield about 3.2 kg of wool, ewes about 2.1 kg, in two shearings; the wool is of ordinary quality, suitable for mattresses.[3]


  1. ^ Barbara Rischkowsky, D. Pilling (eds.) (2007). List of breeds documented in the Global Databank for Animal Genetic Resources, annex to The State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISBN 9789251057629. Accessed November 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Breed data sheet: Leccese/Italy. Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed January 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d Daniele Bigi, Alessio Zanon (2008). Atlante delle razze autoctone: Bovini, equini, ovicaprini, suini allevati in Italia (in Italian). Milan: Edagricole. ISBN 9788850652594. p. 236–237.
  4. ^ a b Le razze ovine e caprine in Italia (in Italian). Associazione Nazionale della Pastorizia: Ufficio centrale libri genealogici e registri anagrafici razze ovine e caprine. p. 12. Accessed January 2014.
  5. ^ Consistenze Provinciali della Razza 20 Moscia Leccese Anno 2013 (in Italian). Associazione Nazionale della Pastorizia: Banca dati. Accessed January 2014.