We are starting our foundation Romanov flock with four beautiful lambs; three ewes and a ram. They are registered and we will be maintaining our flock registration and membership with the North American Romanov Sheep Association!
The Romanov breed is rare in the US and is unique among sheep breeds. They are known to have 'Lambs by the Litter'; bred to be prolific, Romanov ewes consistently produce 3-5 lambs at a time, with the North American record being seven healthy lambs! These ewes not only produce enough milk for their triplets or quads, but are great mothers and easy birthers, whose lambs have a high will to live. In addition, unlike most sheep, Romanov ewes are fertile year-round and have no problem breeding out of season; a well-managed flock will produce three crops of lambs every two years.
Romanovs are a 'Pure Gene', not a cross, and are genetically different from North American or British sheep breeds. Originating in the Upper Volga region of Russia, from a district sharing their name, these sheep come from the family of Northern European Short-Tailed Sheep. Named after their short fluke-shaped tails - which bear only 13 vertebrae, compared to other sheep's 20 - these were the sheep first tamed in Neolithic times by the earliest farmers in Northern Europe. They also have the characteristic of shedding, or 'molting', their wool in the spring, which was traditionally plucked or 'rooed' instead of shorn. This left the coarser guard hairs on the sheep (indeed, they are considered 'hair sheep' for the hotter half of the year) and produced a more consistent, softer wool than would otherwise be obtained. In addition, these sheep are notoriously hardy and agile, with heightened disease resistance and an inborn tolerance for cold, wet weather. They are naturally adapted to eating rough forage, going so far as to prefer browsing trees and shrubs to grazing shorter vegetation.
While Long-Tailed sheep eventually displaced their cousins on a wide scale - for they were larger, whiter (and later of more various colors), and produced soft wool year-round - hardy, large-littered Short-Tailed sheep were never out of the game. In fact, while Romanovs are smaller than your average meat breed (weighing in at 120-175lbs for males and 90-120lbs for females), they produce a high-quality meat lacking in that characteristic 'sheep smell' and marbled instead of layered with fat, as is common in modern meat breeds. Indeed, Romanov lamb is considered the 'veal of sheep', making it into the Slow Foods Ark of Taste!
Romanov genetics have proven to be top-rate in the hybrid market as well. Those characteristics which make the Romanov ewe a valuable producer are passed on to their first, and even second, generation offspring when crossed with a heavier traditional breed such as Dorper or Suffolk. While purebreed Romanov lambs are born black, fading into soft gray as they grow, Romanov lambs lose that coloring at the first cross; most Romanov hybrid lambs are born white, with the occasional tan or speckled. The resulting 50/50 cross ewes are considered 'market lamb machines', putting out high numbers of top gaining market lambs with hybrid vigor.
Here at Raresight, we will be maintaining a pure blood flock of Romanov sheep to help preserve this rare breed, as well as to offer special lamb sales. But in addition to that, we will also be using a quality White Dorper ram to produce market hybrids (Dorpanovs!) at affordable meat prices. All of our sheep are grass-fed and fattened on natural pasture, to give the highest quality lamb that can be produced.