The Breed & History

The Breed

The Official Sheep Breeders' Society Description of a Typical Romney Sheep.

'The Official Description of the typical Romney sheep is as follows: Head wide, level between ears, with no horns nor dark hair on the poll. Eyes should be large, bright and prominent and the mouth sound. Face in ewes full, and, in rams broad and masculine in appearance. Nose and hooves should be black. Neck well set in at the shoulders, strong and not too long. Shoulders well put in and level with the back. Chest wide and deep. Back straight and long, with a wide and deep loin. Rump wide, long and well turned. Tail set in almost level with the chine. Thighs well let down and developed. the face should be white, and the skin of a clean pink colour. Ribs should be well sprung. Legs well set, with good bone and sound feet. Sheep should stand well on their pasterns. The fleece should be of white colour, even texture and of a good decided staple from top of head to end of tail and free of kemp.'

Approved at the Annual General Meeting of Members 19th April 1990

The original Romney Marsh sheep were developed on low lying land in Kent and Sussex, adjoining the English Channel.

The area was, and still is, exposed and isolated, so that a hardy breed of sheep was produced requiring the minimum of attention. They have little interst in straying off and require a minimum of fencing.

The breed expanded over the rest of the South East of England and became known as Kent Sheep. It then spread all over the world and the name Romney came into general use.

The vast sheep industries of New Zealand and other countries had their origon in the Romney. For this reason it is often referred to as 'the best known sheep in the world'.

They are big sheep (ewes up to 85kg, rams 110kg) with a heavy longwoolled fleece (4-5 kg). Wool has always been a major consideration with the breed, right back to the hey day of wool smuggling in the seventeenth century. The quality and fleece weight is always assessed carefully at all the ram shows and the Romney Breed Society makes special awards. About 600,000kg of Romney wool are produced and sold to the British Wool Marketing Board each year.

Renville Ram

Ashford Ram Sale Champion. 1932 Renville Ram

Flockmasters the world over have been striving to improve the quality of their flocks for many generations. The Romneyis unlike most other British breeds in that flockmasters have aimed to achieve these endsby selection within the breed, thus retaining those age-long virtues of independence, strong constitution and adaptability for which it has been so rightly famous. To these virtues can, as the result of this long continued and still continuing policy now be added, those of early maturity and increased fleece weight of even higher wool quality. Recent years have also seen a rapid improvement in the fertility of the breed.

The sheep are excellent foragers spreading out and feeding widely and equally over the pastures. Their dense stocking rate gives a very high cash return per hectare. Despite being kept at high densityes, the breed has a reputation for soundness of feet and good resistance to disease and worms.

The ewes are exceptionally hardy, long lived and good mothers. They are quiet and easily fenced, and have shown themselves readily adaptable to housing.

The wool is a demi-lustre of excellent quality and staple, shearing a heavy even fleece, and is considered one of the best British wools, highly suitable for the manufacture of cloths, blankets, knitting yarns and felts. It is also desirable as an 'improver' fibre for quality carpet manufacture.

Pure or crossed with other breeds, the lambs are of excellent carcase quality nad mature early.

The breed is found in many parts of the world, adapting itself to various climates and altitudes, and thriving on grazing which differs greatly from that found in its original habitat. The exceptional adaptability of the breed is a characteristic of immense practical and commercial value.

The Society's Register of Exports is witness to the old saying that ' The Sun never sets on Romney Sheep'.

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