How Well Do You Know Sheep?



9 Questions

What is the gestation period for sheep?

What is the main threat to sheep and the profitability of sheep raising?

What is the difference between mutton and lamb?

What is the name of the first cloned mammal, produced at the Roslin Institute of Edinburgh?

What are some diseases that affect sheep?

What is the primary use of sheep's milk?

What is the main reason why sheep are beneficial for independent producers?

What is the main reason why sheep are not ideal research subjects?

What is the meaning of the colloquial saying 'black sheep'?


Sheep are domesticated ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock, numbering a little over one billion, and are raised for fleeces, meat, and milk. They are descended from the wild mouflon of Europe and Asia, and one of the earliest animals to be domesticated for agricultural purposes. Sheep husbandry is practised throughout the majority of the inhabited world and has been fundamental to many civilizations. There are over 200 breeds of sheep, created to serve diverse purposes, and the more than 200 breeds now in existence were created to serve these diverse purposes. Breeds are often categorized by the type of their wool, and include fine wool breeds, downs breeds, long wool breeds, and coarse or carpet wool sheep. Sheep are herbivorous mammals, preferring to graze on grass and other short roughage, and avoiding the taller woody parts of plants that goats readily consume.Sheep: Grazing Behavior, Effects on Pasture, Reproduction, and Senses

  • Sheep have a complex digestive system with four chambers that allow them to break down cellulose from vegetation.
  • Sheep eat forages like grasses, legumes, and forbs, and hay during the winter months, and their diets may include mineral supplements.
  • Sheep graze from dawn to dusk, and ideal pasture for them consists of an array of grasses, legumes, and forbs, not just lawn-like grass.
  • Sheep are largely grazing herbivores, and they crop plants very close to the ground, which can cause overgrazing of pastures.
  • Sheep are flock animals, and they have a strong tendency to follow a leader and congregate close to other members of the flock.
  • Sheep establish a dominance hierarchy through fighting, threats, and competitiveness, and dominant animals are more aggressive with other sheep.
  • Sheep are intelligent animals and can recognize individual human and ovine faces and remember them for years.
  • Sheep have a well-focused retinal image of objects in both the middle and long distance, and they can distinguish between a variety of colors.
  • Sheep follow a similar reproductive strategy to other herd animals, and most sheep are seasonal breeders.
  • After mating, sheep have a gestation period of about five months, and normal labor takes one to three hours.
  • Ovine obstetrics can be problematic, and balancing ease of lambing with high productivity is one of the dilemmas of sheep breeding.
  • After lambs are several weeks old, lamb marking and vaccinations are carried out, and ear tags with numbers are attached or ear marks are applied for ease of later identification of sheep.Sheep Husbandry: Health, Predators, Economic Importance, and Food


  • Sheep are prey species and hide signs of illness, making it difficult to detect illness.
  • Preventive measures include good nutrition, reducing stress, and vaccinations and treatments for parasites.
  • Foot rot, foot scald, ovine Johne's disease, bluetongue disease, and tetanus are among the diseases that affect sheep.
  • Some sheep conditions are transmissible to humans, including orf, cutaneous anthrax, and spontaneous enzootic abortion in sheep.


  • Predation is a threat to sheep and the profitability of sheep raising.
  • Worldwide, canids, including the domestic dog, are responsible for most sheep deaths.
  • Measures to combat predation include livestock guardian dogs, protective structures, fencing, and non-lethal deterrents.

Economic Importance:

  • Sheep are an important part of the global agricultural economy, but have been largely replaced by other livestock species.
  • China, Australia, India, and Iran have the largest modern flocks, and New Zealand has a large international impact due to their export of sheep products.
  • Sheep provide raw materials such as wool, sheepskin, and byproducts from the slaughter of sheep.
  • Sheep are beneficial for independent producers, as they do not require expensive housing and are an efficient use of land.


  • Sheep meat and milk were one of the earliest staple proteins consumed by human civilization.

  • Sheep meat is known as mutton or lamb, with mutton being the meat of mature sheep and lamb being the meat of immature sheep less than a year old.

  • The nations with the highest consumption of sheep meat are the Arab States of the Persian Gulf, New Zealand, Australia, Greece, Uruguay, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.Sheep: From Livestock to Research Subjects

  • Sheep are a common type of livestock in many countries, particularly in the Middle East, India, and parts of China, where dishes comprising alternative cuts and offal are popular or traditional.

  • Sheep's milk is predominantly used in cheese and yogurt making due to its high fat, solids, and minerals content. Sheep milk cheeses include Feta, Roquefort, Manchego, Pecorino Romano, and Ricotta.

  • Uncastrated male sheep are inferior in quality and worth less at the market, resulting in a "bucky" lamb.

  • Sheep have played an influential role in genetics research, particularly at the Roslin Institute of Edinburgh, where the first cloned mammal, Dolly, was produced in 1996.

  • Sheep are not ideal research subjects due to their large size and slow reproduction, but have been used to research cardiovascular physiology, pregnancy, facial recognition, and the molecular basis of male sexual preferences.

  • Sheep have had a strong presence in many cultures, with male sheep often used as symbols of virility and power. Sheep also appear in British heraldry and are used in colloquial sayings and idioms.

  • Sheep have played a role in religious symbolism and ritual, particularly in the ancient Near East, the Mideast, and the Mediterranean area. Sheep are also an important element in the Abrahamic faiths and Christian iconography.

  • Sheep are key symbols in fables, nursery rhymes, novels, songs, and poems.

  • Sheep have been used for fortunetelling purposes in Mongolia.

  • Sheep's milk contains 4.8% lactose, which may affect those who are intolerant.

  • Sheep on the island of Hirta have been used to explore the relation of body size and coloration to reproductive success.

  • Sheep are sometimes called ovine, which may allude to them being timid and easily led.

  • To call an individual a black sheep implies that they are an odd or disreputable member of a group.


Test your knowledge on one of the world's most common livestock animals - sheep! From their grazing behavior to their economic importance and even their role in research, this quiz covers a broad range of topics related to sheep. See how much you know about their digestive system, reproductive strategy, common health issues, and even their symbolic meanings in various cultures. Whether you're a farmer, a cheese lover, or just curious about these woolly creatures, this quiz is sure to challenge and entertain you.

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