Breed Standards

Sheep production as a branch of cattle industry is low profitable job. But regardless, the sheep is and animal that best converts green mass to 4 of her goods: meat, milk, wool and hides. The number of sheep in recent years has drastically declined, and since there is a large number of people without jobs, we should use natural resources and increase the number of sheep and meat production, since it is much in demand in the world market. Each breed of sheep is good and beautiful in its own way, as each has its advantages and disadvantages, a matter of choice and breeders affinity towards a particular race depends on what you want in production, and the resources available in terms of food and accommodation.

How to describe my favorite animal and race?

I've always been intrigued by its high fertility, and when I started keeping it, I have realized that I cherish their very friendly, quiet and lovely nature. It is a Romanov sheep.

The emergence of Romanov sheep breed is connected to the end of the eighteenth century and is topographically related to the north and northwest regions of the Soviet Union. Since ancient times, farmers in this part of the former USSR kept northern short-tailed sheep for meat and fur, and selection through many years improve their production characteristics. The best results in improving the characteristics of the northern short-tailed sheep were peasants from the Yaroslavl governorship, district Romanov, thus comes the origin of the name Romanov sheep. Many in the jargon call it imperial sheep, given the Romanov dynasty, which makes sense because the whole district was named after the dynasty. Romanov sheep are derived by methods of folk selection, without the participation of any other race. For many years in professional circles, there is controversy about the influence of Silesian rams to create Romanov race, due to the characteristics of wool, by whose fineness Romanov sheep can be classified in the merino breed. Finally, the ideas and opinions are rejected, and it's considered that the characteristics of Romanov breed were upgraded by interracial method of selection.

The Romanov sheep breed standard is the summation of the anatomical-morphological and production characteristics for which this race is recognizable and distinct from all the others, and which are written in the genetic code, dominant inheritance, transferred to the phenotype of the individual, making her habitat. Of course, the breed standard is not fixed category but a continuous process of improvement, both anatomical and morphological.

If I would like to describe the phenotype of Romanov breed, I would describe it as a medium-sized ewe, of average body mass from 55 to 60 kg for ewes, and from 70 to 90 kg for rams. The head of Romanov sheep is coated with black hair, whose frontal-nasal bone is slightly convex forward, with the presence of small or large white fields. Her head is dominated by large voluminous eyes, with dark pigment. Ear muffs are of medium length and width, which can be either slightly raised up or laid horizontally next to the eyes. The original Romanov sheep had a tinier head than today. The neck is of medium length, well set on the thorax and not too muscular. The animals that have a long and slender neck are unacceptable in breed selection. The best specimens of the breed have a body in the form of kegs, legs are covered from false knees to the hoofs with black hair, but legs can also have white spots. A common defect in stance is that the front legs are narrow, and the back legs are in the shape of X or O, and this is not acceptable for quality evaluation. The tail of Romanov breed has its shape, thickness, length and density. The tail is slim, in the shape of rope or an inverted triangle, with the tip pointing the way down. Its length depends on the number of caudal vertebrae and their length. It is permitted for short-tailed sheep to have 13 caudal vertebrae, and that the length of the vertebrae dependent on the size of the individual, so the tail length is different for each animal.The modern Romanov sheep tail may be about 13 cm, which means it can be two centimeters longer or shorter.

What makes this sheep recognizable is her fertility. The average fertility of Romanov sheep ranges from 200% to 300%. The fertility is affected by genetic predisposition, the level of nutrition and age of the animals. Selective work by leaving the most prolific breeding animals from big litters, and to those in the first lambing can give 3 lambs, with adequate nutrition, and at a certain age, can achieved fertility of 350-380%. Fertility certainly depends on whether the animals are mating in season or off-season, because, as is well known, Romanov sheep is polyestric animals and can mate throughout the year. Five lambing in 3 years are easily accomplished with adequate nutrition. Romanov sheep reaches sexual maturity at the age of 4-5 months, but not to be exploited in reproduction. The first mating is usually done at the age of 10 to 12 months, or when females have between 35 and 40 kg, and males least 12 months old. Romanov sheep can grow until the age of six.

Romanov sheep meat is highly valued because of excellent flavor, juiciness and the absence of specific odor. Easily digestible and with a taste like venison, many restaurants serve Romanov meat as a specialty. The bones are thin and light, and the proportion of bone in cold carcass is 9-10%, and the yield of meat in a well-fed sheep is 50%.

Milk yield of Romanov sheep is in direct proportion to the size of litters, and some average values are 100-150 liters for 100 days of lactation. Exceptional mothers gladly accept lambs at birth without any problems, and without the influence of human activity can raise 3-4 lambs. The females during the first twenty days of breastfeeding can provide daily gain of 550-600 grams per day.

Romanov sheep fleece contains four types of fibers. Lambs at birth are black, because black fibers from the lower layers first develop and grow, and their length is 3-4 cm and 60-90 micron fineness. The fleece from surface layers is growing over the black fiber and reches the height of 6-8 cm and 20-45 micron fineness, and the lambs during the age of one to three month alter the black color in dove gray. The sheep can be sheared 2 times a year, and somewhere 3 times, depending on climatic factors. The yield of wool in sheep is 1-1.5 kg, and rams have between 2.5 and 3 kg. The sheep are sheared at age from 5 to 6 months, because they have better food consumption, and therefore better weight gains. Rough black fibers, of a thickness exceeding 90 microns outgrow surface layers of fleece and then the rams have the so-called mane.

As a race, Romanov sheep can be grown in pure blood for the production of breeding material or used as meliorator for crossbreeding with other races due to an increase in fertility and lambing frequency. Best heterosis effect is achieved if as a basic prerequisite both races are in pure blood and phylogenetically distant. Such cross will receive the F1 generation, for whom food consumption is 10-15% lower than in the primary race, but a higher daily gain by 15-20%. It is desirable that this F1 generation intersect with a third terminal, usually fattening race.

The estrus of Romanov sheep lasts longer than other races and usually lasts from 48 to 72 hours. Ovulation of first egg cells occurs approximately 24 hours after the first signs of estrus. The second, third and fourth egg is released successively, not all at once, so the rams should be used in harem mating technique. Birth weight of lambs ranges from 1.9 to 4.1 kg, depending on litter size and level of maternal nutrition. The size and weight of lambs at birth depends mainly on the size of the mother, and the smaller part depends of the size of the ram (father). As for the rams, the best animals in the herd must be rams, and rams that dominantly transfer their characteristics to offspring, which can be determined only by observation and progeny testing of offspring. Rams are often without horns, and if they appear, their length does not exceed 1 cm.

Daily gain of lambs depends on birth weight, maternal milk yield and nutritional level. Birth weight is crucial, and the weight of Romanov lambs should be on weaning from their mothers between 22 and 25 kg.

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