Courses for Kids
Free study material
Offline Centres
Store Icon


Last updated date: 16th Apr 2024
Total views: 344.1k
Views today: 5.44k
hightlight icon
highlight icon
highlight icon
share icon
copy icon

What is a Sheep?

Sheep is a domesticated ruminant mammal with a dense wooly coat and curved horns. It is kept for its wool or meat.


Where Do Sheep Live?

Most of the world's population of sheep is kept on farms as livestock, and sheep can be found in the wild in the mountains, tundra, and desert. It is estimated their domestication took place around 10,000 years ago. Sheep have since been kept for their fur, skin, milk, and meat as livestock.


Sheep Information Based on the Classification

  • The kingdom of sheep is Animalia.

  • The Phylum is Chordata.

  • The Class of sheep is Mammalia.

  • The Order is Artiodactyla.

  • Sheep belong to the Bovidae family and Caprinae subfamily.

  • The Genus is Ovis.

  • The scientific name of sheep is Ovis aries.

Characteristics of Sheep

  • Domestic sheep differ in many ways from their wild relatives and ancestors, having been uniquely neotenic as a result of human selective breeding.

  • Some of the features of the wild sheep, such as short tails, are preserved by a few primitive sheep breeds too.

  • Wild sheep are predominantly variations of brown hues, and there is very little variation between species. The domestic sheep's colors vary from pure white to dark brown chocolate, and even spotted or piebald.

  • Sheep exhibit a variety of heights and weights, depending on the breed. A heritable characteristic that is frequently selected for inbreeding is their rate of growth and mature weight.

  • Sheep weight: Ewes(adult female sheep) usually weigh between 45 and 100 kilograms and grams(adult male sheep) weigh between 45 and 160 kilograms.

  • The sheep have 20 teeth when all the deciduous teeth erupt. There are 32 teeth for mature sheep. The front teeth in the lower jaw, as with other ruminants, bite into a smooth, toothless pad in the upper jaw.

  • Sheep have excellent ears and are sensitive to noise.

  • Sheep have horizontal slit-shaped pupils sheep can see behind themselves without turning their heads with excellent peripheral vision.

  • Many breeds have only short hair on the face, and some have facial wool confined to the stud and mandibular angle area. 

  • Sheep have a poor sense of depth; shadows and dips in the soil can cause sheep to balk.

  • Sheep also have an outstanding sense of smell, and they have scent glands just in front of the eyes and interdigital on the paws, like all members of their genus.

Sheep Body Parts

The body parts of the sheep are as follows:

  • Muzzle 

  • Poll

  • Loin

  • Dock

  • Stifle

  • Foot 

  • Belly 

  • Knee 

  • Forerib

  • Neck

  • Udder

  • Face

  • Top of Shoulder

  • Hip 

  • Twist

  • Hook 

  • Dewclaw

  • Ribs

  • Forearm

  • Forehead

  • Back

  • Rump

  • Leg

  • Pastern

  • Rear Flank 

  • Cannon 

  • Fore Flank

(Image will be Uploaded soon)

Sheep Breeds

It is estimated that there are more than 10,000 distinct breeds of domestic sheep all over the world. Breeds are often classified by their wool type. Fine wool breeds, which are favored for textiles, are those with wool of great crimp and density. Most of these are derived from Merino sheep, and the world's sheep industry continues to be dominated by this breed.

Let us look into a few of the popular types of sheep available locally in India and some of the exotic breeds. 

1. Marwari Sheep

The Marwari is a breed of domestic sheep from India. It originates in the Marwar area of south-western Rajasthan, in the north-west of India, and is named for it.

(Image will be Uploaded soon)

2. Gaddi Sheep

Gaddi is a breed of sheep found in India that has been domesticated. They are one of eight distinct sheep breeds found in India's northern temperate zone. The Gaddi is raised mainly because of its wool.

(Image will be Uploaded soon)

3. Nilgiri Sheep

The Nilgiri sheep is a breed of sheep found only in the Tamil Nadu State district of Nilgiris, India. It is bred in Nilgiri's hilly parts and is renowned for its fine wool.

(Image will be Uploaded soon)

4. Lohi Sheep

The Lohi sheep are present in Pakistan's southern Punjab and in India's Rajasthan and Haryana. It is used for producing wool and meat for its carpet quality. The body is white and typically the head is tan, black or brown.

(Image will be Uploaded soon)

5. Merino 

The Merino, highly prized for its wool, is one of the most historically valuable and economically successful breeds of sheep.

(Image will be Uploaded soon)

6. Suffolk Sheep

Suffolk is a British domestic sheep breed. It emerged in the area of Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk in the late eighteenth century, as a result of cross-breeding. It is a black-faced, polled breed, and is primarily raised for its meat.

(Image will be Uploaded soon)

7. Dorper

The Dorper is a breed of domestic sheep produced by crossing the Dorset Horn and the Blackhead Persian sheep in South Africa.

(Image will be Uploaded soon)

8. Lincoln Sheep

The Lincoln is the largest British sheep, specifically bred to produce the world's heaviest, longest and most lustrous fleece of any breed.

(Image will be Uploaded soon)

9. Katahdin Sheep

The Katahdin is a breed of domestic sheep produced in Maine, United States and named after the highest peak in the state, Mount Katahdin.

(Image will be Uploaded soon)

10. Texel Sheep

The Texel is a breed of domestic sheep that originated in the Netherlands from the island of Texel. It produces a lean meat carcass, a strongly muscled sheep, and will pass on this consistency to crossbred progeny. The wool is roughly 32 mm in size and is mainly used for yarns and wool knitting.

(Image will be Uploaded soon)

11. Dorset Horn

The Dorset Horn is a British breed of domestic sheep that are endangered. It has been known since the seventeenth century, and is highly prolific, producing two lambing seasons per year often. It is the only breed capable of breeding in the winter among British sheep.

(Image will be Uploaded soon)

12. California Red Sheep

The California Red is a breed of domestic sheep raised in the U.S. It is so-called because all of its lambs are born red, and this color is preserved in adulthood in their faces and limbs.

(Image will be Uploaded soon)

13. Norfolk Horn

One of the British black-faced sheep breeds is the Norfolk Horn. This breed is mainly raised for meat.

(Image will be Uploaded soon)

14. Rambouillet Sheep

The Rambouillet, also known as the Rambouillet Merino or the French Merino, is a breed of sheep from France.

(Image will be Uploaded soon)

Reproduction Facts About Sheep

The reproduction of domesticated sheep is discussed in this section. 

  • Sheep follow a similar reproductive approach to other animals in the herd.

  • In general, a group of ewes is mated by a single ram, which has either been chosen by a breeder or has established dominance in feral populations through physical competition with other rams.

  • Although some are able to breed year-round, most sheep are seasonal breeders.

  • Ewes usually reach sexual maturity at the age of six to eight months and rams usually reach sexual maturity at four to six months.

  • Sheep have a gestation period of about five months, and one to three hours of normal labor is needed.

  • While some breeds regularly throw larger lamb litters, most generate single or twin lambs.

  • Ewes and lambs may be confined to tiny lambing jugs during or soon after labor, small pens designed to aid both careful observations of ewes and to cement the bond between them and their lambs.

  • Ideally, after birth, ewes break the amniotic sac and begin licking the lamb clean.

  • Within one hour of birth, most lambs will start standing. Lambs nurse after standing, receiving vital colostrum milk, in normal situations.

  • Many lambs start life by being born outdoors. Lamb marking is performed after lambs are several weeks old. At this stage, vaccinations are typically carried out as well.

  • To alleviate discomfort, tension, recovery time, and complications, docking and castration are usually performed after 24 hours and are often done no later than one week after birth.

Uses of Sheep

Sheep are an important component of the agricultural economy worldwide. In this section let us understand about sheep by-products which we use in our daily lives. 

1. Wool

  • The commodity for which sheep are best known is wool.

  • Wool is commonly used in knitwear garments such as socks and jumpers, to the clothing used for costumes and suits.

  • It is used both for making chair covers and for upholstery in the furniture trade.

  • Many of the historically manufactured and today's better carpets are made from wool and also for filling mattresses wool is used.

  • Wool is used in various items such as tennis ball covers, baize for the pool table, and liners for hanging baskets.

2. Meat

  • Meat is the most important product that we get from sheep.

  • Meat is an essential component of our diets and many of the crucial vitamins and nutrients we need for healthy living are provided to us by lamb and mutton.

3. Lanolin

  • Raw wool contains grease or lanolin of 10% to 25%, which is recovered during the scouring process.

  • A highly complex combination of esters, alcohols, and fatty acids, lanolin is used in adhesive tape, printing inks, engine oils, and automotive lubrication.

  • In cosmetics and pharmaceutics, lanolin is also used. Lanolin is used in nearly all cosmetics and beauty aids, including lipsticks, mascara, lotions, shampoos, and hair conditioners.

4. Skins

  • After slaughter, sheepskins are eliminated from the carcasses. They are treated and made into soft leather in a process called tanning.

  • For making the chamois cloth with which we wash our car, sheepskin is commonly used.

  • A small number of skins are retained as sheepskins are sold, with the wool still attached.

  • The skin of a sheep's hair produces the highest quality leather. Compared to the smaller number of coarse fibers of the hair sheep, this is because the numerous fine wool fibers cause the skin to be more open and loose in texture.

5. Dairy

  • Sheep cheese makes up about 1.3% of the world's production of cheese.

  • Originally produced from sheep's milk, some of the world's most famous cheeses were: Roquefort, Feta, Ricotta, and Pecorino Romano.

  • We also make sheep's milk into yogurt, butter, and ice cream. The United States is a big importer of milk cheeses for sheep.

6. Science and Medicine

  • Sheep make a lot of contributions to the science and medicine fields.

  • They are used to study illness and perfect surgical techniques as research models.

  • They are used in research on stem cells.

  • Their blood is the ideal medium for bacteria to cultivate.

  • Sheep blood and milk are used to produce pharmaceutical products.

  • Scientists are using wool proteins to create new wound dressings, bone graft implants, and medical sutures using nanotechnology.

  • A sheep called Dolly, which was a female domestic sheep is a famous example of the Sheep application in science and technology, and the first mammal cloned from an adult somatic cell, using the nuclear transfer process.

7. Landscape Management

  • While sheep have been used to control unwanted vegetation for centuries, a relatively new phenomenon is grazing as a fee-based service.

  • Sheep are the best livestock to use, along with goats, to control unwanted vegetation, such as noxious weeds and invasive plants.

  • Sheep are also a good companion to solar farming because, while producing an income, they can control vegetation under the solar panels.

Fun Facts About Sheep

  • The majority of sheep have big, curling horns made of the same ingredient keratin that is present in human fingernails.

  • Sheep have exceptional peripheral vision. They can see nearly 360 degrees with their big, rectangular eyes, and they can even see behind themselves without turning their heads.

  • Sheep are able to feel emotions such as fear, frustration, rage, despair, boredom, disgust, and happiness.

  • In the upper front jaw, sheep do not have teeth. But they have the lower teeth pressed up to break down food against a rough upper palate.

  • Sheep medicate themselves. They use plants and other substances for disease prevention or cure and teach their young lambs to do the same.

FAQs on Sheep

1. What is the Scientific Name of Sheep?

The scientific name of sheep is Ovis aries. This name comes from the Latin words "ovis," which means "sheep," and "aries," which signifies "ram." A female is referred to as a "ewe," whereas a male is referred to as a "ram." "Whether" is a term used to describe a neuter boy. Cubs are referred to as "lambs," and toddlers are referred to as "yearlings."

The animal that is quadrupedal, ruminant is commonly farmed as livestock. Sheep, like all ruminants, belong to the Artiodactyla, or even-toed ungulates, order. Although the term sheep refers to a variety of species in the genus Ovis, it is nearly typically used to refer to Ovis aries in common usage.

Students can refer to the detailed description about sheep provided by Vedantu to know more about it like its characteristics, body parts of sheep, sheep breeds, reproduction facts about sheep, other important facts, etc. the study material by Vedantu will provide you with a complete understanding of the topic and will cover all the important information which you should know about sheets. Also, you can find the important questions that can be framed from this chapter. 

2. What are the Major Byproducts of Sheep?

The major products obtained from sheep are:

  • Meat

  • Wool

  • Skin

  • Dairy

Sheep supply both food and wool to humans. Sheep supply meals, known as lamb or mutton, as well as fiber, known as wool. Lamb and mutton are high in protein. Protein, iron, B-vitamins, and zinc are all found in them. The products provided by sheep are most appreciated. Lamb and mutton are the meats of choice. Meat is without a doubt the most significant product we obtain from these animals, other products are Wool. Lanolin (wool wax), Hides and skins, Dairy products. Contributions in science and medicine are all examples of this type of product employed in the textile industry.

The farm animal sheep is a very important animal that is preferred for many reasons. Students can get more detailed studies about the sheep with the notes provided by Vedantu. Here you can get everything you want to know and also you can connect with experts to ask if you have any doubts. Students can get complete guidance from experts that have years of experience in providing the best educational advice and career guidance to students.

3. Can Sheep Recognize Colors?

Sheep are believed to have color vision, and a range of colors such as black, red, brown, green, purple, and white are distinguished by sheep. Sheep communicate primarily through sight, and while grazing, they keep visual contact with one another. Sheep and other livestock, contrary to popular belief, can see colors. However, their color vision is not as developed as it is in humans. Sheep will be terrified of new hues. Sheep have a fantastic hearing.

Students can get complete knowledge about the topic from the expert subject teachers that have deep knowledge about the topics and that helps you to clear all your doubts. The notes provided by Vedantu can be used to study and get a complete understanding or you can also refer to the notes to prepare any project. Students can completely rely on the study materials as Vedantu guarantees its accuracy.

4. Do Sheep Have Peripheral Vision?

The answer is yes, sheep do have peripheral vision. Sheep have their eyes on the side of their heads. They have in front of their head a small field of binocular vision and broad peripheral fields of monocular vision. A unique ability of this animal is that without moving their head sheep can see behind. Sheep have large rectangular eyeballs with a peripheral and panoramic vision that is why they can see everything around and behind them without turning their head.

Sheep have rectangular pupils that allow them amazing peripheral vision – their field of vision is thought to be between 270 and 320 degrees, compared to 155 degrees for humans – and depth perception.

The lens, cornea, iris, and retina of a goat or sheep's eye are comparable to those of a human eye. The retina's huge size also allows for good night vision, and a filament called Tapetum Lucidum, which is identical to the one found in cows, substantially aids night vision.

5. What are the advantages of the Vedantu study material?

Vedantu is one of the top platforms for professional assistance. Here are some of the perks you will receive if you study with Vedantu’s expert team:

  • Top-notch teachers provide professional advice.

  • Complete knowledge of the topic like sheep

  • Expertly created study materials in PDF format are available for free.

Notes: Important questions and sample papers about sheep are available for free.

  • Study materials that are prepared in simple language are easily understandable

  • While you're at home, you can take customized classes according to your time convenience.

  • You will learn how to create a well-organized timetable in order to establish a study pattern.

  • Reliable study materials that are 100% accurate

There are various other advantages that a student receives through Vedantu. You can rely on our #1 online learning platform to connect with professional subject professors that can answer all of your questions and provide expert advice on how to succeed in your exam.