Romanov sheep or the imperial sheep originated in Russia in mid 19 century in the valley of the Volga river. It got its name after the Romanovo-Borisoglebsk county located in the vicinity of today's Tutaev city. From the start the breeding of these sheep was very selective according to breeding potential and the result is the most fertile sheep in the world.
The average fertility of romanov sheep is about 250% per birth (while with good nutrition it can reach over 400%), which means that 100 sheep can yield between 250 and 400 lambs in one birth cycle. These sheep also have prominent polycyclicity which means that with proper nourishment they can give birth naturally after just six months. In one year, a single sheep that gives birth every 6 months can get on average between four to six lambs, which no other breed can compare to. This way one flock can give between 120-170kg of living weight lambs if an average lamb weighs around 30kg. No other breed of sheep can yield that amount of lamb per sheep naturally in the same time period.
These sheep range between the smaller sizes (50-60kg) and therefore require less food than sheep that weigh between 70 and 100kg. The females can grow between 50-60kg while ours reach up to 70-80kg, the males can get to 70-90kg while our males can reach a weight of 100-120kg and elite animals can reach up to 100kg. They have a small, angular head with a curved skull, short snout and a tail of 10-15cm. The ridge size ranges between 60-62cm and in males 64-65. They are very sturdily built, have short legs and small bones which is why they give birth easier. Also immediately upon birth the lambs are very vital and can begin eating at 5-7 days old, which is much earlier than other breeds .
When born the lambs are completely black, except with some permitted white variations on the head, legs and tip of the tail. White spots on any other part of the body are not allowed. The average weight of a 100 days old lamb is 25-30kg with adequate nourishment. The best specimens can reach up to 40kg in 100 days. The wool is coarse and grey because of the mixture of fine white hairs. It's also full of black and coarse hairs. The males have a mane of black wool around the neck and on the front of the chest. The wool yield per sheep is 1,4-1.6kg and in males 2-3kg. Legs, face and ears of the animal are covered in short, black fur which can be partially white because of variation coloring. This breed of sheep also has very good milk production.
MATING AND REPRODUCTIVE MATURITY
The sheep can mate 30 days after birth and are unique for that in the world, seeing how other breeds require at least 42 days. Romanov sheep have a somewhat shorter period of gravidity ranging between 138 to 143 days, which all results in the ability to give birth every 6 months. This breed of sheep reaches reproductive maturity very early in life. The young sheep are fully mature in 4-5 months. The females can are usually bred at 8 months old, so the first time they give birth is when they're a year and a half. Already at first birth the average yield is around two lamb per sheep. Single births are rare and well-fed elite animals can yield triplets and quadruplets.
This breed of sheep has very high milk production ability and the milk is high quality. With the average 150-200L of milk production per lactation, this sheep can feed her entire litter without a problem, which can amount to 5-6 lambs. During its 100 days lactation period, the sheep produce on average between 100 and 150L of milk and record-breaking animals can yield up to 200L of milk and more. Due to their high fertility, relatively high milk production and vitality, these sheep are imported in various Balkan countries in order to cross-breed them with local sheep breeds with varying results.