The Romney (originally and in the UK, Romney Marsh) is one of the oldest sheep breeds. It can be traced back more than 700 years to the 13th Century. Romney sheep are a hardy and adaptable English lowland breed, being a familiar site on their indigenous areas of the Romney Marsh and lowlands of the south east coast of Kent and Sussex, England, adjoining the English Channel. Romney was developed from the native European white-faced, long-tailed sheep and took its name from this low-lying, Romney marsh area of England. The area was, and still is, exposed and isolated, so that a hardy breed of sheep was produced requiring the minimum of attention.


The geographic and climatic conditions where the breed began, led to the development of specific characteristics in the breed. The Romney is truly versatile, as demonstrated by its ability to produce quality meat and wool under diverse climate conditions and management systems. This breed’s quiet disposition, unique fleece characteristics, the flavor and quality of its meat and its lambing percentage make it an excellent choice for purebred, commercial, or crossbred programs.


Romney sheep are excellent foragers spreading out and feeding widely and equally over the pastures. They have little interest in straying off and require a minimum of fencing. This dense stocking rate gives a very high cash return per hectare but despite being kept at high densities, the breed has a reputation for soundness of feet and good resistance to disease and worms.


The Romney fleece is unique in the way it combines several important traits. The fleece is lustrous and hangs in separate locks, with minimal cross fibers between the locks. It is high yielding and easily spun, with uniformity of crimp. Romney wool has the finest fiber diameter of all the long-wool breeds with the diameter of the fibers from 38.0 to 31.0 microns. Fleeces from mature ewes will weigh from eight to twelve pounds. Romney fleeces have a low grease content making them very light shrinking upon washing, and consequently high yielding with a range in yield from 65 to 80% of the grease weight making Romney one of the heaviest wool producers of all breeds.


Demands by consumers for lean cuts of meat from well-muscled carcasses make it evident that the future of the lamb market rests with breeds having these attributes. The American Romney fulfills these needs as a durable, versatile sheep. It is not only a beautiful breed, but is becoming increasingly known for its commercial qualities as a food producing animal with adequate growth rate and the type of heavy, lean carcasses demanded by the commercial trade where it will continue to be increasingly important in both large and small commercial programs. The Romney’s ability to mature on pasture, without putting on excessive fat, is one of it’s most desirable characteristics. At maturity, Romney males weigh from 225 to 275 pounds (102-124 kg) and ewes weigh 150 to 200 pounds (68-90 kg).


American Romney ewe fertility is repeatedly confirmed by high lambing percentages under varied feed and geographical conditions. Ewes can rear quality, high-scoring market lambs, while producing an 8 to 15 pound wool clip of excellent quality and a high clean yield. Other traits making the Romney a top mother breed are a calm, gentle disposition, prolificacy, milk production, ease of lambing, vigorous lambs, and natural mothering instinct. Romney’s excellent mothering traits and good meat conformation make them equally useful as both a sire and a dam breed. Ewe lambs begin to cycle at 8 to 10 months of age, and mature ewes typically breed from September through January. In many flocks, ewes regularly produce twins and can feed triplets with proper nutrition.

Content from the Following Websites

Ohio State University

 American Romney Breeders Association

 Romney Sheep Breeders Association - UK

 Australian Romney Association, INC

 Photographs courtesy of Ace Vandenack