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It can be a little confusing to understand the differences between sheep and lambs, since most people use the terms interchangeably! We’ll go over the key differences between sheep and lambs, so you can easily tell which is which.
The word sheep also applies to male as well as female animals and both meat and wool producers. Mature sheep have a full set of teeth, generally a more filled out body and are taller than lambs of the same breed. Mature sheep will also have a more balanced look to their body as a whole, whereas young lambs look out of proportion, they are gangly and all legs. Rams tend to be a bit larger than the ewes and have a wider forehead, more masculine appearance to their features and a scrotum (most easily seen when viewed from behind the sheep). The mutton tastes more like the full flavored meat that they grew up eating back home. We have noticed that a carcass of a full size sheep, over a year old, will yield much more meat than that of a younger lamb. Here is a link to an article I wrote explaining the differences between lamb meat and mutton if you want to learn more. Grass fed only lambs is great for the animals, but as mentioned above it will take a bit longer than supplementing with feed. Lambs are finished when they have filled out their frame (bone structure) with a good amount of muscle and they have a covering of fat on their bodies. They look alert and spunky and have a chunky body even though they are a smaller size lamb, about 50-60 pounds live weight. Lambs raised for meat are kept for 6 months or so generally, however that depends upon the genetics of the sheep and the farming system being used. To be clear a lamb that is well grown and healthy (so bigger) is doing better than a peer than is not performing as well (smaller) in the same conditions.
Is a sheep and lamb the same?
Lamb, hogget, and mutton, generically sheep meat, are the meat of domestic sheep, Ovis aries. A sheep in its first year is a lamb and its meat is also lamb. The meat from sheep in their second year is hogget. Older sheep meat is mutton.
Why do we eat lamb and not sheep?
The meat from a lamb is tenderer as compared to the meat obtained from an adult sheep. On the other hand, mutton has more flavor. For most people that enjoy eating whole cuts like roasts and chops, lamb does the trick. It is mainly because of the tenderness of meat obtained from lambs.
Does a lamb become a sheep?
What is lamb? … The proposal by the Sheepmeat Council of Australia would change the definition of a lamb to a sheep less than 12 months of age or a sheep which doe not have any permanent teeth in wear.
Sheep were among the first animals to be domesticated, and they are raised all over the world. They are generally domesticated for their meat, milk and wool. The sheep is usually stockier than its relative the goat. A sheep’s meat in its first year is called a lamb whereas in its second year is referred to as hogget. Older sheep meat is referred to as Mutton. Mutton is deep red in color and has a stronger flavor and more open texture. It is also much fattier than lamb meat.
deep red in color and has a stronger flavor and more open texture. Sheep are only plant eaters and they flock together in large
numbers and run away from predators. Sheep prefer grazing on grass, legume vegetation and clover, though they will
also consume high, coarse or brushy plants as well. Sheep have a split in
their upper lip, with which they are able to pick the preferred grass or leaves
of the plant. Sheep is actually a term for a woolly ruminant
mammal, member of family Ovis aries , that is over one
year of age. Mutton is deep red in color and has a stronger flavor
and more open texture. Sheep are grazers, preferring to eat short,
tender grasses, legume vegetation and clover. There
are many local terms for lambs of different ages and conditions, such as
hogget, shearling, teg, gimmer, yearling, weaner, slinker etc. When the lambs
approach a year of age, they are often as big as the adults, but there is
always a difference in the wool. They have good senses, in that they can scan their surroundings
with few movements of their head and do this even when grazing, and they can
relocate a sound very precisely. Lambs generally walk just minutes after they are born,
though they are often dependent on their mothers for the first four to six
month of their lives. They are weaned around four to six month and become
sexually mature around two to five years, depending on species and gender. BASIS OF COMPARISON SHEEPLAMBDescription Sheep is actually a term for a woolly ruminant mammal, member of
family Ovisaries that is over one year of
age. Feeding Sheep are grazers, preferring to eat short, tender grasses, legume
vegetation and clover.
The term sheep can refer to either an adult female, called an ewe, an intact male, called a ram, or a castrated male, called a wether. A lamb is simply a baby sheep of any sex, typically less than a year old.
The sheep that we know today (Ovis aries) are said to be descended from the wild Mouflon of Europe and Asia . As is typical of ruminants, sheep spend a lot of their time eating and chewing cud. As one of the earliest animals to be domesticated for agriculture; textile, leather, meat, and milk products were and still are key reasons to raise sheep. Wool, which grows from the sheep’s skin is different from hair or fur because it is crimped and elastic. Wool was crucial in earlier civilization as they could create clothing, blankets, tents, coverings for furniture, accessories like hats, and more. Even today, wool may be used to create clothing or blankets, and can be easily found in most craft stores. This is because the hair is more coarse and spread out over the body, causing the ‘fiber network’ to be tighter and firmer. The meat has a strong flavor, large grain texture, and dark red color. Today, the practice of milking sheep is most common in Europe and countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. The milk itself is rarely consumed, instead it is normally sent to processors to be made into gourmet cheese, yogurts, or ice creams. Sheep tend to stick close to each other, and lambs in particular spend a lot of time by their mother’s side. Similarly to the wool, lambskin and the resultant lamb leather are more smooth and soft than those of a sheep. Lamb leather is typically used to make jackets, coats, dresses, and other types of clothes. Opposite to sheep, rather than producing milk, lambs consume it until they are weaned and begin eating grass and other forage. Sheep are content to chew cud and relax in a comfortable spot when they are not grazing. Since they are significantly younger, the lamb equivalent of each product is positively affected by their young age. The most significant difference being age influences their physical attributes, behaviors, and the products they produce, all of which set them apart.
How to tell the age of a sheep
Since age of the sheep is so important in the selling price and the animal value, how do you tell the age of a sheep? Actually it is simple, by the teeth.Sheep get two teeth in at one year of age. These teeth are permanent. Each year until the animal is four it will get two more teeth, so by her fourth birthday a ewe will have a total of 8 teeth. The only way to accurately determine the age of a sheep is by looking in it’s mouth.
Meat from mature sheep is called mutton
Mature sheep include ewes, rams and sometimes wethers (in the cases of sheep with very valuable wool or pets) that are over one year of age.Mature sheep have a full set of teeth, generally a more filled out body and are taller than lambs of the same breed. Mature sheep will also have a more balanced look to their body as a whole, whereas young lambs look out of proportion, they are gangly and all legs.The job of a mature sheep both male and female is reproduction. These sheep are kept to produce the next year’s lamb crop.In mature sheep:Mature sheep will generally flock well, some breeds more than others, and will want to stay with the group. Moving a group of mature sheep is easier than moving lambs since lambs do not flock well.
Characteristics of a lamb
Young lambs are uncoordinated and lanky. Quickly they start to grow and get good coordination and become really fast. As they grow they get more muscle and will grow into their legs, the legs will look to be proportional now.Lambs are spunky and quick, but don’t flock up well like the adults. Moving a group of weaned lambs is not as easy as moving a group of adults, they just behave a little differently. Moving a group of young lambs, like when the moms go to a new pasture and a few babies get left behind, that is hard. They do not flock up at all, (a frustrating experience to say the least).
How fast lambs grow
Lambs that are fed on grass only will finish out (reach market weight) slower than lambs that have access to creep feed. If you have a limited pasture available and are already rotating pastures using a high stocking rate (lots of animals per acre) consider creep feeding the lambs. Creep feeding the lambs means giving them supplemental feed which will make the pasture you have last longer.Grass fed only lambs is great for the animals, but as mentioned above it will take a bit longer than supplementing with feed. Forage feeding only is the traditional way to feed ruminants, having the lambs at finishing weight around 8 months, depending upon the forage available.The genetics of the flock, especially the ram since he is genetically half of every lamb, will greatly influence how fast the lambs grow. Meat breed sheep will also grow faster than wool breed sheep. Additionally, a hybrid (cross bred) lamb will grow faster and generally be more vigorous than a purebred lamb.
When do lambs reach market weight
Most lambs reach market weight at 6 months of age. The weight depends upon breed and feeding conditions, so anywhere from 80-110 pounds live weight. Once again this depends greatly upon breed and the conditions in which the lambs are raised.Lambs are finished when they have filled out their frame (bone structure) with a good amount of muscle and they have a covering of fat on their bodies.Some breeds tend to finish out early and at a smaller size like Cheviots. At the livestock auction we normally go to when the pen of Cheviot lambs come through they always get top dollar. They look alert and spunky and have a chunky body even though they are a smaller size lamb, about 50-60 pounds live weight.Other breeds of sheep like most of the wool breeds and the bigger framed meat breeds finish at higher weights. These breeds put on frame first then need time to put on the muscling to fill out the frame, meaning they will be a larger lamb when they reach finished body condition.
Meat from sheep less than one year old is called lamb
Lamb meat is harvested from lambs less than one year old is called lamb. This seems to cause some confusion with the word for the meat and the word for the live animal being the same, since for most animals the name of the meat is different than that of the live animal, for example deer and venison or cattle and beef.Lambs raised for meat are kept for 6 months or so generally, however that depends upon the genetics of the sheep and the farming system being used. For other farms the best weight to market their lambs comes sooner so the animal is younger. For example, many of the Amish sheep farmers around here are selling younger lambs, in the 50 pound range. These lambs would be more of a roasting size, like for a special occasion family dinner.Why the difference? Not all animals and all systems work all places, actually the animals and the system need to be fitted to the farm. This means that what is best for one farm is not best for all farms.
Sheep were among the first animals to be domesticated, and they are raised all over the world. They are generally domesticated for their meat, milk and wool. The sheep is usually stockier than its relative the goat. A sheep’s meat in its first year is called a lamb whereas in its second year is referred to as hogget. Older sheep meat is referred to as Mutton. Mutton is deep red in color and has a stronger flavor and more open texture. It is also much fattier than lamb meat.Sheep are only plant eaters and they flock together in large numbers and run away from predators. Like all ruminants, they have multi-chambered stomachs that are adapted to ferment cellulose before digestion. To completely digest their food, sheep will regurgitate their food into their mouths, rechew and swallow. This regurgitated food is called cud. Sheep prefer grazing on grass, legume vegetation and clover, though they will also consume high, coarse or brushy plants as well. They like to graze close to the soil surface.Male sheep is referred to asMost breeds of domesticated sheep produce wool, while a few produce only hair and wild sheep grow a combination of wool and hair. Breeds of sheep having fine wool are generally raised for wool production alone, while breeds with medium or long wool or with only hair are generally raised for meat production.