The Lamb

Sheep were domesticated over 10,000 years ago. There are over 1 billion sheep in the world, and China holds the largest population of sheep. Over 40 breeds of sheep are in the US alone, and approximately 900 different breeds are found around the world. Domestic sheep can adapt themselves in a wide variety of habitats worldwide ranging from temperate mountain forests to desert conditions.

A young sheep is called a lamb. Adult females are known as ewes, and adult males are known as rams.

Sheep are timid and nervous by nature; because of this they are easily frightened. So sheep like to stay close to others, and when they group together they’re known as a heard, flock or mob. Because they stay so close together, it makes them easier to move together to new pastures. 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. Like other ruminants, sheep too have a four chamber stomach that contains fermenting bacteria and protozoan that assist in breaking down their food. Like goats, sheep do not have teeth in their upper jaw.

Ewes often give birth to twins, and when the sheep gives birth to an offspring, the process is called lambing. At birth on an average, weight of a lamb is between 5 to 8 pounds, and 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.
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