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The Rambouillet is the French version of the Merino, created after 1786 when the Spanish relaxed their centuries-old ban on the export of Merino sheep. A purebred registry has been maintained since 1801 and most present-day ancestry for the breed traces back to France and Germany.They are a range sheep, popular in the Canadian west because of their ability to survive in harsh conditions. They are long-lived and have a slightly higher prolificacy than the Merino. Although the lambs finish more slowly than the Down breeds, they produce a good carcass. Down rams such as Hampshire, Dorset or Suffolk are often used to improve the meat characteristics while preserving the hardiness and flocking instinct of the Rambouillet. Hand spinners and weavers pay a premium for the fleece.