Sheep are counted amongst the oldest animals to be domesticated for agricultural purposes. They are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals, typically kept as livestock. Though the name sheep can be used for over 200 distinct species, its everyday usage mostly refers to Ovis Aries. They are believed to have descended from the wild mouflon of Europe and Asia. Sheep are raised for fleece, meat and milk and their wool is used around the world. The milk from sheep is considered to be a very rich source of whey proteins, which also makes it easier to digest. Though the average lifespan of sheep is 10-12 years, in rare cases they can even live up to 20 years. Sheep have also been used as sacrificial animals in religious rituals since ancient times and find place in many mythological and religious symbologies. Read on to know some more interesting facts and amazing information on sheep.
Binomial Name: Ovis Aries
Species: O. aries
Height: 25-32 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 45-160 kg
Life Span: 10-12 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 & Amazing Information On Sheep
Sheep are precocial animals, which imply that they have a greater degree of independence at birth. They are also gregarious by nature, as they like to be in a flock. Apart from being social animals, they also flock together for protecting themselves against any danger. Still, some breeds of sheep are solitary as well.
Female sheep are called ewes, baby sheep are called lambs, and male sheep are called rams (they have prominent horns on their head). A group of sheep is called a flock.
Sheep are defenseless against predators like coyotes and wild dogs, as they are timid, nervous, and easily frightened. For this very reason, shepherds use dogs to move sheep around and discipline them.
An interesting aspect about sheep is that they maintain a flight zone, which is the space they keep between themselves and others. The flight distance of a sheep will depend on the situation and the meekness or wildness of the sheep.
Sheep do not prefer to walk in water or pass through narrow openings, or routes. They like to move uphill, into the wind, than going downwind and downhill.
Sheep are ruminants, with four chambers in their stomach. The first chamber is used to store quickly digested food, known as cud. It can be brought back into their mouths for chewing again, before it is fully digested. Nearly one-third of sheep’s life is spent ruminating.
Sheep are very selective with regard to their grazing habits. They have a split in their upper lip, which helps them pick the preferred leaves of the plant.
Sheep see in color. An average sheep possesses a field vision ranging to 270 degrees. However, the amount of wool on their face can have an impact on their visual field. Due to their poor depth perception, sheep tend to avoid shadows or striking contrasts between light and dark.
Sheep are known to possess an excellent sense of hearing. Being very sensitive to high frequency sound, they get scared by loud noises.
Sheep are blessed with very good memories and can remember several other sheep and human beings for years.
For the ancient Egyptians sheep were sacred animals and they used to mummify them after their death just like human beings.
In Chinese zodiac, sheep symbolize sincerity, gentility, righteousness and compassion.
A baby sheep can recognize its mother by the bleating sound which they make.
Sheep are herbivorous mammals and their favorite food is grass and other short roughage. They do not like to consume taller woody parts of plants which goats seem to prefer.
The gestation period of sheep is around five months and in case of normal labor it takes one to three hours. There are certain breeds of sheep, who throw larger litters of lambs, but generally sheep give birth to one to 3 lambs.