One of the first animals to be domesticated by humans, Sheep, have been serving us for long, with quietude and an always-serviceable attitude. They are believed to have been descended from the wild mouflon of Europe and Asia, and have evolved into how they look at present. Belonging to the family of ruminants (containing over 150 species including cattle, goats, buffalo, camel, and llamas etc), sheep have been, and are used for production of wool, meat and in some places, for milk. Apart from being multi-utilitarian animals, they are also considered an important animal in many cultures and religions – for being used as sacrificial animals (a lamb is considered innocent and pure). Even today, they are used for same. What more of service could you ask from them? An innocent bunch they are, really! Read the following section to know more interesting and amazing facts about sheep.
Binomial Name: Ovis Aries
Species: O. aries
Height: 25 to 32 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 40 to160 kg
Life Span: 5 to 10 years
Diet: Grasses and low-lying plants
Habitat: Mountains and grasslands
Age of Sexual Maturity: 6-8 months
Gestation Period: 147 days
Number of Offspring: 1-3 lambs
Interesting and Amazing Facts about Sheep
- Sheep were domesticated 10000 years ago in Central Asia. There are over a billion domesticated sheep in the world.
- The oldest organized industry is raising sheep.
- The female sheep are called ewes, males are called rams and young sheep are called lambs.
- Over 40 breeds of sheep are there in US alone, and approximately 900 different breeds are found around the world.
- The sound of a female sheep is called bleating and her offspring can identify its mother by the sound she makes.
- Sheep have poor eyesight but to compensate, they have been blessed with an excellent sense of hearing.
- Sheep do not have teeth in their upper front jaw.
- When sheep gives birth to an offspring, the process is called lambing.
- Ewes often give birth to twins.
- Milk from Sheep is often used to make gourmet cheese.
- After their birth, healthy lambs can stand immediately, within minutes, and join the herd.
- There’s a slight difference between the sounds a sheep and a goat makes. While a sheep emits “Baa” sound, goat, on the other hand emits “Maa”.
- On an average, a sheep consumes 2 to 4.5 pounds of food daily.
- At birth on an average, weight of a lamb is between 5 to 8 pounds.
- Sheep prefer to walk into the wind and uphill, rather than downhill and with the wind.
- A sheep only has eight teeth, which it grows two a year.
- Sheep cannot get up when they are lying on their back and need help to get up.
- Of all the red meats, lamb meat has the lowest cholesterol level.
- To make 1 tennis racket, small intestines from 11 sheep are needed.
- Before a lamb goes on a solid diet of grass, hay, and grain, it feeds solely on its mother’s milk for about 4 months.
- A castrated male sheep is called a wether.
- A sheep has an average body temperature of about 102.5 ˚F.
- Fat extracted from sheep, known as tallow, is used to make soap and candles.
- Like other ruminants, sheep too have a four chamber stomach that contains fermenting bacteria and protozoan that assist in breaking down their food.
- Domestic sheep can adapt themselves in a wide variety of habitats worldwide ranging from temperate mountain forests to desert conditions.
- The tails of domesticated sheep are shortened shortly after birth. It is done to for the purpose of cleanliness.
- Domesticated sheep are allowed to graze green pastures during the summers, but during winters, they are fed with hay.
- A farmer with a large flock of sheep to manage usually employs the services of a well trained herding dog that looks over the flock and prevents predators like coyotes from attacking.
- Because of a split in its upper lip, a sheep is able to pick the preferred leaves off the plant.
- About one-third of a sheep’s life is spent in ruminating.
- Sheep lives outdoors and can bear bad weather as their fleece keep them warm.
- Sheep have a knack of huddling together and wherever one goes, others follow.
- Dolly, a female sheep, was the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell. She was born on 5 July 1996.
- A sheep has oil glands on face and toes while a goat does not.
- Wool, sheared from sheep, is the most commonly used fibre in the world.
- Sheep are timid and nervous by nature; they are easily frightened, because of which they flock together.