Brigasque transhumant pastoralism is immemorial. The 12th century oldest documentary sources mention it.
The shepherds of La Brigue were known on the Riviera where their herds wintered while La Brigue was snow-covered. The winter transhumance agreements were maintained between France and Italy after the county of Nice was joined to France, while La Brigue was attached to Italy. Summer transhumance was done on the mountain pastures of La Brigue and Tende.
Ewe inter-breedings have been practiced for a long time in La Brigue, in search for adapted to high mountain courses animals, with good dairy and wool producing. The contemporary Brigasque ewe is said to have emerged from the twentieth century crossbreeding between the local population and the Bergamasque, a Piedmont breed.
The Brigasque has kept the lively and curious character of the earlier local species: its name in local dialect means “sheep-goat”. This crossing is also on the Italian side under the name of Fabrosa, Roaschia or Roschina, according to the villages, but the Italians recognize themselves within the name “Brigasque”.
The Brigasque is a large, rustic, dairy sheep. She is known for both sexes. Its chamfer is very hooked and the ears are long. The fleece, with long locks, is predominantly white, with some red areas, often on the neck. Its wool served to make mattresses for a long time.
The calm and docile Brigasque makes it possible to valorize the scrubby pastures, with high unevenness. When it cannot find vegetation on the ground, such as goats, it is content with tree leaves and bushes.
Excellent walker, the great courses do not scare it. It supports harsh winters as well as scorching periods.
Brigasque pastoral activity declined sharply with the gradual cessation of winter transhumance, when land pressure erased winter grazing on the coast, which forced the use of hay for much of the year.
The breeders Association of Brebis Brigasques (Association des éleveurs de Brebis brigasques) was founded in 2012 to save the breed and promote its development. It created a carpet-manufacturing sector, in order to promote the this ewe’s wool.
The “Festival of the Brigasque Sheep” (Fête de la brebis brigasque), which takes place every year in October, was created to highlight the sheep, and more broadly the regional agricultural and artisanal productions.