Romneys – A True Dual-Purpose Breed
The Romney, historically a dual purpose breed, remains so today, and is found in every type of farming environment. When handled properly, lambs from this versatile sheep can be creep fed until weaning, then turned out on pasture to mature, where they efficiently convert pasture into lean, high quality carcasses of heavy hanging weights that usually grade prime or choice. Romney meat is known for its delicate taste even in older lambs.
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, and will continue to be increasingly important in both large and small commercial programs.
The Romney fleece is unique among all breeds of sheep in the way it combines several important traits. The fleece is lustrous; it hangs in separate locks, with minimal cross fibers between the locks. It is also high yielding and easily spun. Uniformity of crimp from the butt to the tip of a lock is also typical of the breed. Romney wool has the finest fiber diameter of all the longwool breeds; the spinning count may run from 50 to 44 (equivalent to about 29-36 microns). Ideally, the spinning count of the fleece is consistent over the entire body.
It is the low grease content of Romney wool that makes it a very light shrinking fleece upon washing, and consequently high yielding. Since the value of a fleece depends on its clean wool content and not its grease weight, the Romney, whose fleece can boast a clean yield of over 70%, is one of the heaviest wool producers of all breeds.
Whether shorn once or twice a year, the wool clip from the purebred Romney flock is sought by commercial wool buyers and craftspeople. Its broad range of acceptable spinning counts enables Romney wool to be used for many products, ranging from sweaters to outer wear to carpets. For the commercial producer, incorporation of the heavy-shearing white Romney can add significantly to overall farm income.