Five data sets with records of first, second and third lambings of the White Alpine sheep (WAS1, WAS2), the Brown-Headed Meat sheep (BFS), the Black-Brown Mountain sheep (SBS) and the Valais Black-Nose sheep (SNS) of Switzerland were used to estimate phenotypic and genetic parameters for litter size using a multitrait and a repeatability model by the REML method. The sets contained litter information from 26 274, 25 165, 18 913, 14 953 and 21 726 ewes, respectively. Average numbers of litters per ewe were between 2·09 and 2·31. Average litter sizes at birth were between 1·36 and 1·57 lambs in first, between 1·52 and 1·75 in second and, between 1·56 and 1·86 in third parities. Multitrait estimates of heritability for size of first litters were 0·164, 0·157, 0·117, 0·223 and 0·116 for the WAS1, WAS2, BFS, SBS and SNS data, respectively. The corresponding estimates were 0·176, 0·165, 0·140, 0·208 and 0·134 for second and, 0·141, 0·155, 0·121, 0·145 and 0·107 for third litters. The systematic increase in phenotypic variances from first to third litter within data sets favoured the multivariate over the repeatability approach. Genetic correlations between size of the first three litters were, with one exception, above 0·927. Random flock ✕ year and sire of litter effects contributed between 2·2% and 13·2% and between 0·7% and 4·7% to the phenotypic variance of the traits, respectively. Residuals contributed between 70·6% and 84·2% to this parameter, estimates for the third litter were always highest. Heritability estimates from the repeatability model were smaller than the smallest multivariate estimates. Expected genetic gain in litter size from selection on the multitrait model was equal to the achieved response from the repeatability approach.