Sheep are one of the best known farm animals. There are about
800 different kinds of sheep. They were brought to the United
States by European settlers in the 1500s. Sheep live throughout the
Adult male sheep are called rams and females are called
ewes. Baby sheep are called lambs. Ewes are pregnant for
5 months and have up to 3 lambs at a time.
Sheep are chubby, medium-sized animals. They have sharp toes
that are called hooves on each foot. They weigh between 100
and 230 pounds. Rams weigh between 100 and 350 pounds. Most
sheep are white or they might have gray, black, brown or spotted
coats. Some sheep have horns and some are hornless.
Sheep can run and climb well. They live about 20 years.
Sheep like to stay in a large herd.
They don't like to be alone. The sheep will eat grass, leaves
and small plants. They
swallow their food, digest it a
little, and then bring it back to their mouth where they chew it
some more. This is
During winter time, sheep grow very thick wool coats. These
coats protect sheep from weather such as rain or snow. Wool is
sheared once a year. When
summer begins, the wool is cut [sheared] off. This wool is
made into yarn. This yarn is made into clothes that people
wear. Sheepskins with
the wool still on them are made into clothing. Another
use for sheep is the oil in the sheep wool.
Sheep are raised for different things.
Some sheep are raised because they will give really great
wool. These kinds are
mostly raised in Australia, New Zealand, South America and western
United States. They are
of the merino or Rambouillet breed.
Other sheep are raised for their meat.
These are called mutton-types.
Some of these are Suffolk, Lincoln, Hampshire, Dorset,
Leicester, and Romney Marsh.
Farmers have been trying to
get great wool AND good meat from the same animal.
Some of these breeds are:
Columbia [combination of Rambouillet and Lincoln] and
Corriedale [combination of merino, Leicester, and Lincoln].
Sometimes sheep are
raised for their milk. Sheep
milk is richer than cow and goat milk.
It has more than double the fat of cow’s milk and more
protein. People don't usually
drink it. It is used for yogurt and cheese.
Roquefort [French cheese] is a sheep milk product.
Most of the time, sheep graze
on open land and are watched by shepherds.
The herd might have one or
two thousand sheep in it. They might be moved to different pasture
lands from time to time. This
makes the animals easy to raise.
Sheep like to herd together.
If they are scared, they will run away in a tight herd.
This makes a large herd much easier to handle.
the sheep are kept on farms where they are fed special food with
added vitamins and minerals. These
sheep stay in fenced in pastures.
The biggest sheep
raising countries are Australia, China, Iran, New Zealand and India.
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