Lacaune Sheep Cattle Ranch
In 2019, our livestock received the Figan award for excellence, as a reference livestock in Spain for its technical management model, innovation and sustainability.
The production system used in Valle de los Molinos is semi-intensive, that is, the sheep go out every day to graze the walnut fields with fresh grass and then these are milked twice a day. This semi-intensive system improves the welfare of the animal; it encourages its physical activity and it improves its quality of life, animal hygiene that ultimately affects the quality of the milk.
While the animals go out to graze, the shepherds prepare the barn with dry litter, clean feeders and drinkers, and feed them. In this way, everything will be ready when the sheep return from the field the next day.
Valle de los Molinos follows a cyclical system of five farrowing pens a year, ensuring that at least each ewe gives birth once a year.
The main mating model is through natural riding with rams. The males of the farm are sons of the elite sheep of our herd and improved males from France. On certain occasions, the ewes are also inseminated with fresh or frozen semen from breeding males.
During the farrowing pens, a rigorous parental control is carried out, which subsequently allows a correct selection of the breeding pups through our selection programs with total security and traceability.
Selection & Improvements
Since its inception in 2005, we have been committed to improving the Lacaune breed, through repeated acquisitions of improved males and females from France, tested and of high genetic qualification, with inseminations and through a rigorous control of internal production.
Production controlled, the information on the daily production of livestock has been collected since 2010. Analyzing lactations, fertility, prolificacy, paternal affiliation, etc.
From the database collected in the field and through a sophisticated programming methodology, Valle de los Molinos has qualified and categorized all the animals in its sheep ranch. In this way, it is possible to carry out a personalized and adequate monitoring and for each animal.
Only the lambs with a higher paternal qualification index become part of the rearing for the replacement and sale of reproductive males and females.
In the graphs on the left, you can see the individual distribution of each of the animals from the livestock based on their daily and annual production and reproductive status. These key criteria are used in the rating and selection methodology.
In the graph, we can notice the distribution of sheep production by categories; you can see the three categories in which our sheep ranch is subdivided and its productive characteristics. Category A represented in green are the elite sheep of our facilities, on which an exhaustive monitoring is carried out and whose lambs will be part of the rearing and the sale of stallions.
In the other graph, you can appreciate the particular characteristics of the herd based on their reproductive status, which later serves to qualify the different flocks of sheep in a standardized way.
Our sheep are milked in the morning and in the afternoon in the two milking parlors of the ranching.
The milking system with milk control and automatic withdrawal is the main tool to perform a controlled milking of the highest quality to the sheep, thus reducing the incidence of mastitis and achieving a better quality of milk.
Once the ewe is milked, the milk is rapidly cooled and stored in cold storage tanks at low temperature until it is collected the next day for cheese making.
The correct methodology of milking and handling of the sheep ranch, as well as an effective cleaning and maintenance of the facilities and equipment allows to obtain a milk of the highest physical-chemical and sanitary quality.
In the reproductive system of the ranching, five cycles are distributed homogeneously throughout the year. The birth of lambs is concentrated in each cycle or farrowing pen. After parturition and subsequent parental control, the lambs are raised during their first phase of life in mother ships.
The lambs are raised until they reach 25-26 kg in weight, with approximately 2 months of age. It is not until that moment that we determine which ones will not be part of the rearing for the internal replacement and sale of reproducers.
When it comes to the selection of the rearing, we use what we call the “parental qualification”. This process takes into account the daily production, annual production, age and reproductive status, among others. In this way and depending on the replacement rate, the offspring of elite mothers and fathers whose genetic value is superior are chosen.
This methodology allows keeping the best offspring and thus we are able to increase the efficiency and productivity of the livestock.