- Back in 2004, Shrek the Merino sheep hid in a cave for six years so he wouldn’t have to get sheared. But the time he was cornered and given his long-overdue haircut on New Zealand national television, there was enough wool to make 20 mens suits.
- In 2015, a sheep named Chris who was found in Canberra, Australia, unloaded 89-pounds of fleece. Unlike wild sheep or “hair sheep,” (breeds that naturally shed), the wool of domestic breeds like the Merino will just keep growing, according to Dave Thomas, the now retired head of sheep studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
- On a related note, one pound of wool can make up to 10 miles of yarn. A sheep, depending on the breed, can produce between two and 30 pounds of wool a year, so do the math.
- They have nearly 360 degree vision. …Sheep have rectangular pupils that give them amazing peripheral vision – it’s estimated their field of vision is between 270 and 320 degrees; humans average about 155 degrees – and depth perception. These are great assets when you’re a prey animal. It’s like surround sound for the eyes.
- The upper lip of a sheep has a pronounced groove dividing the left and right side, called a philtrum. …Sheep are very selective grazers, preferring leaves and blades over stems, and their philtrum helps them get close to the ground, them an advantage over other ruminants who can’t go as low. Sheep only have bottom teeth and a hard upper pallet, they can however still bite.
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- Sheep can’t right themselves if they’re on their back. Sheep that are heavily pregnant, overweight, or have a heavy fleece have a very hard time righting themselves if they’ve somehow fallen onto their backs. There’s even a term for the situation. They’re called cast sheep. So if you see one in this position they’re probably stressed and freaking out so find a farmer and help roll ’em back over. Here’s a video of a cast sheep getting a helping hand.
- Gestation in sheep varies from 142 to 152 days with the average being 147 days. Just like people, individual pregnancies can vary, gestation periods of 138 to 159 days are not unheard of. So if the tup goes in on Bonfire night we typically get lambs on April fools Day.
- Bottle Fed Lambs drink 140ml every 4 hrs.
- Colostrum is the first milk from the mother, it is vital for the lambs survival
- If a ewe does not have any milk, then substitute colostrum and formula milk must be used.
- A first time Mother sheep is called a yearling, hogget, shearling, gimmer, theave, or teg, they will typically have just one lamb in their first season.
Cuts of Meat
- The average lifespan of a sheep is 10-12 years, although the age at which they cease to be ‘commercially productive’ is around 5 years earlier, hence most domestic sheep are killed at around half of their potential lifespan.
- The main UK shearing season is during the summer months, generally starting at the beginning of May and, depending on the weather and the region, most ewes will usually be shorn before August.
Easy Sheep Trivia Questions
How many domestic sheep are there in the world?
A: Over one billion.
What is an adult female sheep called?
A: A ewe.
What is a non-castrated male called?
A: A ram.
What is a castrated male called?
A: A wether.
What is a younger sheep called?
A: A lamb.
Sheep are most likely descended from what?
A: The wild mouflon of Europe and Asia.
One of the earliest animals to be domesticated for agricultural purposes, sheep are raised for what?
A: Fleece, meat (lamb, hogget or mutton) and milk.
A sheep’s wool is the most widely used what?
A: Animal fibre.
Wool is usually harvested by what method?
Ovine meat is called “what” when from younger animals?
What is it called when it comes from older animals?
Sheep continue to be important for wool and meat today, and are also occasionally raised for what?
A: Pelts, as dairy animals, or as model organisms for science.
Sheep husbandry is practiced throughout the majority of the what?
A: Inhabited world.
In the modern era, what areas are most closely associated with sheep production?
A: Australia, New Zealand, the southern and central South American nations, and the British Isles are.
What is a group of sheep called?
A: A flock, herd or mob.
In both ancient and modern religious ritual, sheep are used as what?
A: Sacrificial animals.
Colours of domestic sheep range from pure white to what?
A: Dark chocolate brown, and even spotted or piebald.
Selection for “what” began early in sheep domestication?
A: Easily dyeable white fleeces.
Because white wool is a dominant trait it did what?
A: Spread quickly.
White wool is desirable for large commercial markets, there is a “what” for coloured fleeces?
A: Niche market, mostly for hand spinning.
The nature of the fleece varies widely among the breeds, from dense and highly crimped, to what?
A: Long and hair-like.