Sheep are farmyard animals known for their thick, woolly coats and gentle dispositions. They are ruminants, meaning they chew and digest their food twice.
Sheep have been kept as livestock for centuries, with records of their domestication dating as far back as 10,000 BCE. They are prized for their fleece and meat and their willingness to follow humans and respond to commands.
There are numerous breeds of sheep, each with specific characteristics, such as a certain amount of wool they yield, varying meat quality, and dispositions ranging from docile to wild.
Each year, a sheep will produce a large amount of wool - up to eight kilograms of fleece - and go through the same shearing process to keep the wool from getting too heavy.
Sheep are considered herd animals and can recognize familiar faces among their flock, greeting each other with head butts.
A ewe, or female sheep, can have one to four lambs, with the young staying dependent and around the mother for up to one year.
A ram, or male sheep, will naturally try to increase his flock by mating with as many females as possible, thus establishing his herd.
Sheep can live for an average of 8 to 12 years, depending on their environment and diet.
The reproductive processes of sheep are very interesting - males will secrete chemicals called pheromones known to attract females.
Domestic sheep typically take two to four days to birth their young, making the process relatively fast and efficient.
Looking after the flock’s health is the responsibility of the shepherd, who inspects their wool, treats any health issues, and ensures the sheep’s food and water supply is in good order.