First, is to identify from which genepool you are looking to make your choices. I considered the very basic grouping into cohorts as proposed by Prof Weaver ( see previous article LINK) The idea of dividing into cohorts is one consideration but to circulate only with breedings within your own flock seems unnecessarily limited and it is helpful then to consider the larger "breed" grouping. Given that the breed is a french native the first and primary criteria would be to stick to Ouessants of native origin.
Within this grouping it is possible to sub-divide along several criteria and here it begins to get a little more convoluted. Within the breed history there is an identification of several "souches" or groupings of bloodlines. Divided roughly into the originating areas in which the various flocks were found. Geographically diverse, it is reasonable to assume that these "souches" were also genetically diverse, indeed some of their characteristics and differences were recorded by those who sought to establish the breed society.
Whilst some of these "souches" exist today the generalised descriptions of the past did not always clearly define or identify individual flocks or if they did their path to the present is not easily discerned. There is a second sub set of groups that can be taken into consideration and this would be those breeders or flocks who have sufficiently long a history to be considered within the breed founder flocks. Despite some who feel that it is no longer possible to identify theses founder flocks or descendants of those original sheep it is in many cases possible to do this to a sufficiently high degree as to retain a valid and tangible link to the past, genetically and also historically.
As I move along the path of conservation breedings within my own flock the identification of as many different branches of the tree reaching back to the trunk will formulate an integral part of not just my approach to conservation breeding but also of maintaining the diversity and health of the breed nationally.