Sheepskin Sheep Raising

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Sheepskin Sheep Raising

 

the raising of sheep to obtain high-quality sheepskins for coats. Sheepskin sheep raising began developing in Russia in the late 18th century, when a cottage industry producing sheepskins for coats emerged in certain districts of Yaroslavl’ and Kostroma provinces to meet the demand for warm fur clothing. The sheepskins were obtained from local northern short-tailed sheep. The Romanovo breed, from which sheepskins are obtained today, was developed through long-term breeding of sheep herds and the selection of sheep for the quality of their sheepskins.

Romanovo sheepskins are light, strong, and very warm and have an attractive appearance. The good qualities of the sheepskins are determined by the characteristics of the wool, which, unlike the wool of other coarse-wooled sheep, consists entirely of down and guard hairs. Three to four months after shearing, the down, which grows more rapidly, overgrows the guard hairs by 2–3 cm and forms locks with attractive tight curls. The optimal proportion between the guard hairs and the down and the difference in their coloration are responsible for the lovely light blue tint of the wool. The relatively short guard hairs provide the down with an elastic support and prevent the wool from matting.

Sheepskins from young animals, five to eight months of age, are the most valuable. In production, animals are usually slaughtered at nine to ten months of age, when the wool has grown out at least 3 cm after the first shearing; this results in a good-size carcass and hide. Sheepskin sheep raising is highly productive: Romanovo sheep are very fertile, capable of lambing three times in two years. On leading farms, 300–330 lambs are born per year per 100 ewes.

As of Jan. 1, 1976, there were 578,000 Romanovo sheep in the USSR. A small number has been exported to France and Rumania to help upgrade local breeds.

REFERENCES

Ovtsevodstvo. Edited by G. R. Litovchenko and P. A. Esaulova. Moscow, 1972.
Nikolaev, A. I. Ovtsevodstvo, 4th ed. Moscow, 1973.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.