A Romney sheep with lamb

Romney Sheep Breed: Information, Behavior, and Care

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The Romney sheep breed, formerly known as the Romney Mash, is a “long-wool” sheep that was domesticated in England in the early 1800s. Romney Mash is a dual-purpose sheep bred for both meat and wool production.

Their ewes have excellent mothering qualities and milk production, thus higher survival rates for their lambs. Unlike most sheep breeds, these have strong hooves, resistant to foot or other sheep diseases common in wet climates.

Here’s everything you need to know about Romney sheep, including why their strong wool is recommended more to “niche markets” and beginner hand spinners.

A Romney sheep with lamb

History of Romney Sheep

The Romney sheep breed originates from the marshy area of Kent, England. It’s one of the oldest known sheep breeds, with a history dating back to the 13th century.

The sheep were initially domesticated in the wet and boggy English lowlands east coat of Sussex and Kent. It’s here that Romney developed their hardy traits like strong black hooves resistant to foot rot and robust fleeces that withstand rainfalls and wet climates.

Romney’s popularity in New Zealand by 1853 was due to the similarity in topography. The sheep breed remains the most predominant in this region to date.

The first Romney sheep arrived in North America in 1904. Their popularity increased fast, leading to the formation of the American Romney Breeders Association in 1912.

Many were exported to different parts of the world in the late 20th century. This was mainly due to depressed wool prices in England, plus prolonged drought, which didn’t make their foot rot-resistant hooves a desirable attribute anymore.

Today, the Romneys have spread to most parts of the world, predominantly in New Zealand and the US.

The modern-day American Romney is an enhanced breed from the English and New Zealand bloodlines.

The Romney sheep breed is now a national breed in the US found in North America, West Coast, and the middle and eastern states.

Quick Facts About Romney Sheep Breed

Country of Origin England
Breed name Romney
Breed Purpose Wool, meat
Mature body weight Rams: 200-275lbs


Average fiber diameter 29-36 microns
Grease fleece weight 8-12lbs
Fleece staple length 5-8 inches
Care Level Low
Temperature Most climates
Temperament Docile

Characteristics of Romney Sheep Breed

The Romney is hardy and muscular sheep that mostly appear in white shades, but you’ll also find them colored.

Their faces are mostly white and bright than other body parts. They grow long wool that covers the entire body, including the forehead and the feet.

They have a broad head, leveled between ears, but they do not grow horns even for the rams. Their hooves and nose are black. They have a short, muscular neck well set in the shoulders, which are almost the same level as the back.

Romneys have a straight and long back and a deep loin for both rams and ewes. They have a well-turned long and wide rump.

Although the Romney sheep breed may vary in size based on geographical location and feeding habits, they are generally characterized as a bigger sheep breed.

The American standard Romney breed is 140 lbs or higher for the ewes, while rams weigh upwards of 200 lbs.

READ ALSO: 7 Black Sheep Breeds With White Face

Typical Behavior of Romney Sheep

Despite their mid-sized to large muscled bodies, Romneys are chilled and hornless, easy to keep and manage.

Like other sheep breeds, they prefer to stick around in groups for protection against predators. Their docile nature makes them easy with other animals and human beings, including small children.

Romney sheep in the fields

Advantages of Romney Sheep

Romneys have excellent mothering qualities and produce enough milk to cater to the lambs until they can fend for themselves.

Their fleece remains healthy even in harsh climates, and their hooves don’t rot easily in damp conditions.

A healthy Romney ram can yield upwards of 10kgs of wool annually, while breeding ewes typically produce up to 5kgs of wool or more yearly.

Besides their outstanding high resistance to foot rot, these are rarely affected by liver fluke or other plagues typical in other sheep reared in damp conditions.

The Romney sheep also produce strong wool with an average fiber diameter (AFD) higher than most sheep breeds.

Their high AFD wool is the most preferred for rugged hand spinning like carpeting and making sweaters.

The Romney ewes also have high twin birth rates, making them excellent prime lamb producers.

Disadvantages of Romney Sheep

Romney sheep grow tough wool, covering their feet fully, which can impede their movement when left unattended or even cause deadly conditions like fly strikes. The tough wool also means difficulty during shearing.   

Romneys are good meat sheep but take time to grow to maturity. The lambs may need supplements to speed up their growth and start feeding on forage and other mixed diets.

Although Romney produces long, strong wool, their fleece is preferred by a small percentage of beginner hand spinners and end-users specializing in rugged hand spinning. Finding enough market for large-scale Romney sheep farmers may be problematic.

Taking Care of the Romney Sheep

Romney sheep are easy to care for, thanks to their impressive milk production and high resistance to common sheep diseases.

Despite the high milk production by Romney ewes, their lambs experience slow growth and may require creep feeding before weaning.

The Romney sheep are big animals that require good and spacious grazing grounds to thrive. Consider adding grains and legume hay supplements when necessary.

Romneys grow thick wool all over the body, which needs shearing at least once yearly to ease movement and reduce parasitic infestation.

Frequently Asked Questions About The Romney Sheep Breed

Here are common questions people also ask about the Romney sheep breed.

What’s Romney sheep best known for?

Romney sheep are commonly referred to as dual-purpose sheep. They are excellent long wool producers and produce tender and tasty carcasses even in old age.

Are Romney sheep heat tolerant?

The Romneys are hardy and strong sheep that don’t succumb easily to climate change. Their feet don’t’ rot in damp climates, and heat rarely affects their feeding.

Is Romney wool the best?

The Romney sheep is famous for its long and strong wool, highly resistant to wet climates. Although they might not be the best for most hand-spinning applications, Romney wool is preferred for rugged spinning in carpeting and sweater-manufacturing companies.


Romney combines many desirable qualities, making it a perfect homestead sheep for any farmer. They are docile, manageable, and highly resistant to common sheep diseases.

These sheep are excellent wool and meat producers, thanks to their enormous sizes and wool abundance, covering almost all body parts, including the forehead and feet.

But, one major downside to those who keep Romney sheep primarily for wool is their “niche-oriented” wool.  A small percentage of end-users seek tough Romney wool for spinning rugged materials like carpets. Otherwise, most commercial buyers prefer soft merino wool for fine fabric and luxury garments.


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