The Polypay was born out of frustration and a dream in the the late 1960’s. The frustration was in needing more productive sheep to make a profit. The dream was to develop sheep which would produce two lamb crops and one wool crop per year. Led by Dr. C.V. Hulet, the scientists at the U.S. Sheep Experimentation Station in Dubois, Idaho developed five primary goals for the dream breed:
- High lifetime prolificacy
- Large lamb crop at one year of age
- Ability to lamb more frequently than once per year
- Rapid growth rate of lambs
- Desirable carcass quality
The gene pool was developed from four existing breeds: Finnsheep with their high prolificacy, early puberty and short gestation; Rambouillet with their adaptability, hardiness, productivity and quality fleeces; Targheewith their large body size, long breeding season and quality fleeces and Dorset with their superior mothering ability, carcass quality, early puberty and long breeding season.
The first crosses were made in 1968 and the first 4-breed composites were made in 1970. The name Polypay was coined in 1975 from poly, meaning multiple, and pay, meaning return on labor and investment.