The Charmoise is a genuine hill breed and was the one of the first to be imported to Britain from the Continent. The breed was formed in the Loir et Cher region of France in the mid- to late 18th century by using Kent rams introduced from England. These were then crossed with the indigenous hill and mountain breeds giving the resulting lambs a better overall shape.
The breed’s influence on the modern sheep industry has been considerable. The excellent confirmation of the Charmoise meant that, when the ewes were crossed with a traditional Leicester ram, the forerunners of several influential breeds were born, including the modern Charollais and Rouge. A further out-crossing to long-woolled breeds resulted in the Bleu du Maine.
The Charmoise is still found in the rougher hill areas of France where it is bred pure to produce a high quality small lamb. The population in France is estimated to be around 20,000 ewes. The breed can now also be found in Germany, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom and is invaluable in the production of quality meat and wool where grazing poor.
In France the Charmoise is the only top conformation breed to be classified as race rustique (hardy breed) and it consistently wins the primestock classes at the Paris Show.