Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Joel E. Ricks


Joel E. Ricks


S. George Ellsworth


Leonard J. Arrington


Alma Esplin


The domestic sheep in the flocks in the state of Utah all trace their origins back to Europe. Between the sixteenth century and the present, sheep have made at least six different journeys from the old world to America and have fused their blood in the formation of the sheep industry of Utah. Each of these movements has a dramatic and interesting story to be told, but the trek of the Rambouillet is perhaps the most fascinating of all. The journey began in Spain, when by sea and by land the hardy fine-wool Spanish Merino made its way into France in 1786 by order of Louis XVI who desired to make France independent of Spain for its supply of fine wool. Here in France a new breed was created and struggled for existence during the period of revolutionary upheaval, emerging as the French Merino or Rambouillet sheep. The trek continued into Germany in the mid 1800's, where under the standard of Germany, more remarkable changes were wrought by the German breeders. Then, taking to the sea again, the wandering breed crossed the Atlantic Ocean to New York and the New England States. Here the Rambouillet was rejected by eastern breeders in the 1850's and several of the flocks were moved en masse to California by steamer via the Isthumus of Panama as well as overland in trail herds. Wool growing was beginning to attract attention at the time, and California breeders welcomed the opportunity of effecting improvements in their herds by infusing the blood of the superior Rambouillet into the inferior remnants of the old mission flocks and stock trailed in from New Mexico. By 1880 the Rambouillet was moving in numbers onto the arid ranges of Utah. Here the surroundings and the continual migrations for pasture with the change of the seasons paralleled the age-old practice of Spain where the sheep are shuttled back and forth between the foothills of the Pyrenees and the plains of Estremadura. And here in Utah some of the Rambouillet's greatest triumphs and contributions were made as purebred flocks were established and the Rambouillet blood was infused throughout the range herds of the state.



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