Romneys are stocky sheep. One Romney ewe that is in my flock came to me with the name of Land Rover. It fits. She is now called Queen Elizabeth (she has lovely lambs, and deserves respect), but she still fits Land Rover, or even Tank. But Romney fleece is spectacular, and blends well with medium fleeces to give bounce, or is lovely by itself. I have a few Romney, and I value their wool, but never have more than one or two of the big girls on my farm.
The Romney is a dual-purpose long-wool breed producing both high quality wool and meat. Romney wool is used for a wide range of products from sweaters to rugs. Hanging in separate locks with very few cross fibers, the Romney fleece is lustrous and uniformly crimped. This fine high quality fiber is extremely easy to spin and popular with spinners and weavers alike.
The Romney can be traced back to the Romney Marsh breed from Kent in England. The high winds and heavy rainfall of this area keeps the forage lush and abundant. The breed was improved in the 19th century by crossing with Leicester sheep. The harsh climate and marshland that was home to the Romney has produced a breed with hooves resistant to foot rot and a dense fleece that not protects from the elements, but is impervious to disease and remains healthy in severe weather. The Romney is well suited to these conditions and in the was an obvious choice for areas of New Zealand that are similar in topography and climate. Romneys were imported into New Zealand in the 1850s and they still thrive there today.
First imported to North America in 1904, the Romney made an easy transition to the wet, lush landscape of Oregon. In 1912, the American Romney Breeders Association was founded by Joe Wing who was played a key role in the development of the breed in America. Since then the breed has been improved with New Zealand blood lines becoming the American Romney we know today. In 1972 the first natural colored purebred Romneys were registered in Oregon. Romneys are now becoming popular throughout the United States and are proving that they are extremely adaptable and can thrive wherever there is lush pasture.