Latxa sheep are a
milk sheep breed from the Basque Country of Spain. They are mostly raised
within the provinces of Biscay, Gipuzkoa, and Navarre. They are known for excellent
quality milk production. Their unpasteurized milk is used for producing
Idiazabal and Roncal cheeses.
Latxa sheep have
been managed traditionally by moving the flock to the mountain pastures in the summer
when the ewes have finished lactating, with cheese-making taking place on the
farm. Some flocks are moved while still lactating, with the animals being
hand-milked on the high pastures. A breeding scheme has been introduced since
1982, and new production methods tested. And for providing earlier lambing and
prolonging the breeding season, the artificial insemination is being used. And
machine milking is taking the place of hand milking.
They are small to
medium sized. There are two sub-varieties: one is a dark-faced variety, and
another one is the blonde. But both varieties have white colored wool, which is
long and coarse.