Romney Sheep & The Society:
The Origin Of The Breed:
The Romney Sheep Breeders Society represents the interests of Romney breeders across the UK, offering registration and marketing services to pedigree and commercial breeders alike.
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 interest 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 Worldwide Appeal:
The vast sheep industries of New Zealand and many other countries had their origin in the Romney. For this reason it is often referred to as ‘the best known sheep in the world’.
Romneys are a relatively 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 heyday of wool smuggling in the seventeenth century.
Flockmasters the world over have been striving to improve the quality of their flocks for many generations. The Romney is unlike most other British breeds in that breeders have aimed to achieve these ends by 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.
Desirable Traits 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 densities, 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 carcass quality and 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’