What Is a Sheep?

1 : any of various hollow-horned typically gregarious ruminant mammals (genus Ovis ) related to the goats but stockier and lacking a beard in the malespecifically : one ( O. aries ) long domesticated especially for its flesh and wool 2a : a timid defenseless creature

b : a timid docile personespecially : one easily influenced or led 3 : leather prepared from the skins of sheep : sheepskin

What it means to be a sheep?

The definition of a sheep is a woolly mammal with horns, or a slang term for a person who follows the crowd, is meek and is easily led. … A person who does what his friends says and doesn’t think for himself at all is an example of a sheep.

Is a sheep a goat?

Sheep are closely related to goats in the taxonomy of classification of organisms up to a certain point. They are from the family of Bovidae, and the sub family of Caprinae. The genus Ovis and the species aries refer to sheep while at the genus and species level of Capra aegagrus hircus is for domestic goats.

Is sheep a male or female?

An adult male sheep is called a ram and an adult female sheep is a ewe. Young sheep are lambs. An adult male goat is called a buck or billy, and an adult female goat is called a doe or nanny. Young goats are called kids.

What is a lamb vs sheep?

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.

1. A group of people who lack the capacity for careful consideration, imagination, or individual thought, who thusly go with group and allow god awful trends and events to unfold and make us all miserable.

People who vote along party lines are sheep, and need to be given a good bitch slap to the face . Once that trend ends and everyone stops liking it, they promptly start disliking it and it becomes the worst thing in the world.

They also mock the people that continue to follow the “uncool” trends. Get a sheep mug for your grandma Riley. The nickname of an extremely annoying bitch who follows her best mate around like a shadow.

She has the same walk, the same bullshit lies coming out of her mouth and even the same hair. Get a sheep mug for your Aunt Nathalie. A mammal that is part of a massive worldwide conspiracy to take over the world.

Slowly increasing their influence in the media and using seagulls as messengers, the sheep have begun an international network of spies and villians that will soon tunnel through the entire planet. The well known stupidity of sheep is in fact a method of misleading any who are aware of the conspiracy.

It will be less remembered as a year featuring a diverse roster of scientific anniversaries, ranging from the 1300th birthday of a prolific writer to the 25th birthday of a celebrity sheep.

darkness , fog , gloom , mist , puff , smog , smoke , steam , vapor , veil , doyen , forerunner , guide , lead , billow , dimness , film , fogginess , frost , haze Around 3,000 years ago a drought in central China drove Mongol herders a thousand miles north into the steppes of Khakassia, in Siberia, where they remained raising horses and sheep for centuries.

And, also like Orwell, he diverged from his social set, avoiding college for a career as a sheep farmer in South Africa even though all he ever wanted was to be a writer. Merino sheep , to be precise, and the wool that is shorn from them in New Zealand that ends up in the comfy sneaker-slippers made by Allbirds. A flock of weary sheep pattered along the road, barnward bound, heavy eyed and bleating softly.

any of various bovid mammals of the genus Ovis and related genera, esp O. aries (domestic sheep), having transversely ribbed horns and a narrow face.

Sheep (Ovis aries) are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Like all ruminants, sheep are members of the order Artiodactyla, the even-toed ungulates. Although the name sheep applies to many species in the genus Ovis, in everyday usage it almost always refers to Ovis aries. Numbering a little over one billion, domestic sheep are also the most numerous species of sheep. An adult female is referred to as a ewe (/ju/), an intact male as a ram, occasionally a tup, a castrated male as a wether, and a young sheep as a lamb.

[1] One of the earliest animals to be domesticated for agricultural purposes, sheep are raised for fleeces , meat (lamb, hogget or mutton) and milk . Sheep continue to be important for wool and meat today, and are also occasionally raised for pelts , as dairy animals, or as model organisms for science.

Many other specific terms for the various life stages of sheep exist, generally related to lambing, shearing, and age. Being a key animal in the history of farming, sheep have a deeply entrenched place in human culture, and find representation in much modern language and symbology . [8][9] The rearing of sheep for secondary products, and the resulting breed development, began in either southwest Asia or western Europe.

Archaeological evidence from statuary found at sites in Iran suggests that selection for woolly sheep may have begun around 6000 BC, [3][11] and the earliest woven wool garments have been dated to two to three thousand years later. Excavations show that in about 6000 BC, during the Neolithic period of prehistory, the Castelnovien people, living around Chteauneuf-les-Martigues near present-day Marseille in the south of France, were among the first in Europe to keep domestic sheep. [13] Practically from its inception, ancient Greek civilization relied on sheep as primary livestock, and were even said to name individual animals.

Pliny the Elder , in his Natural History ( Naturalis Historia ), speaks at length about sheep and wool. Domestic sheep are relatively small ruminants, usually with a crimped hair called wool and often with horns forming a lateralspiral . Domestic sheep differ from their wild relatives and ancestors in several respects, having become uniquely neotenic as a result of selective breeding by humans.

Another trait unique to domestic sheep as compared to wild ovines is their wide variation in color. Colors of domestic sheep range from pure white to dark chocolate brown, and even spotted or piebald . The front teeth are then gradually lost as sheep age, making it harder for them to feed and hindering the health and productivity of the animal.

Sheep also have an excellent sense of smell, and, like all species of their genus, have scent glands just in front of the eyes, and interdigitally on the feet. [23] The foot glands might also be related to reproduction, [23] but alternative functions, such as secretion of a waste product or a scent marker to help lost sheep find their flock, have also been proposed. Males of the two species differ in that buck goats acquire a unique and strong odor during the rut , whereas rams do not.

[39] Almost all sheep are classified as being best suited to furnishing a certain product: wool, meat, milk, hides, or a combination in a dual-purpose breed. Other features used when classifying sheep include face color (generally white or black), tail length, presence or lack of horns, and the topography for which the breed has been developed. As the demand for carpet-quality wool declines, some breeders of this type of sheep are attempting to use a few of these traditional breeds for alternative purposes.

With the modern rise of corporate agribusiness and the decline of localized family farms , many breeds of sheep are in danger of extinction. [41] Those that remain are maintained through the efforts of conservation organizations, breed registries, and individual farmers dedicated to their preservation. Most breeds prefer to graze on grass and other short roughage , avoiding the taller woody parts of plants that goats readily consume.

[47] Both sheep and goats use their lips and tongues to select parts of the plant that are easier to digest or higher in nutrition. When sheep graze , vegetation is chewed into a mass called a bolus , which is then passed into the rumen , via the reticulum . Sheep follow a diurnal pattern of activity, feeding from dawn to dusk, stopping sporadically to rest and chew their cud .

Common plants toxic to sheep are present in most of the world, and include (but are not limited to) cherry, some oaks and acorns, tomato, yew , rhubarb, potato, and rhododendron . With a much narrower face, sheep crop plants very close to the ground and can overgraze a pasture much faster than cattle. [55] Research conducted in Imperial County, California compared lamb grazing with herbicides for weed control in seedling alfalfa fields.

[57] Furthermore, in contrast to the red deer and gazelle (two other ungulates of primary importance to meat production in prehistoric times), sheep do not defend territories although they do form home ranges . [22] Being a prey species, the primary defense mechanism of sheep is to flee from danger when their flight zone is entered. Cornered sheep may charge and butt, or threaten by hoof stamping and adopting an aggressive posture.

[64] Merinos have an almost linear hierarchy whereas there is a less rigid structure in Border Leicesters when a competitive feeding situation arises. [66] Their flocking behavior and quickness to flee and panic can make shepherding a difficult endeavor for the uninitiated. [22] Sheep have been used as pack animals; Tibetan nomads distribute baggage equally throughout a flock as it is herded between living sites.

It has been reported that some sheep have apparently shown problem-solving abilities; a flock in West Yorkshire , England allegedly found a way to get over cattle grids by rolling on their backs, although documentation of this has relied on anecdotal accounts. Apart from contact communication, bleating may signal distress, frustration or impatience; however, sheep are usually silent when in pain. A snort (explosive exhalation through the nostrils) may signal aggression or a warning, [70][74] and is often elicited from startled sheep.

Touch and sight are also important in relation to specific plant characteristics, such as succulence and growth form. [86] Ewes have estrus cycles about every 17 days, [87] during which they emit a scent and indicate readiness through physical displays towards rams. [41] After the birth, ewes ideally break the amniotic sac (if it is not broken during labor), and begin licking clean the lamb.

Docking and castration are commonly done after 24 hours (to avoid interference with maternal bonding and consumption of colostrum) and are often done not later than one week after birth, to minimize pain, stress, recovery time and complications. [32] Objections to all these procedures have been raised by animal rights groups, but farmers defend them by saying they save money, and inflict only temporary pain. A veterinarian draws blood to test for resistance to scrapieSheep may fall victim to poisons, infectious diseases , and physical injuries.

As a prey species, a sheep‘s system is adapted to hide the obvious signs of illness, to prevent being targeted by predators. [23] However, some signs of ill health are obvious, with sick sheep eating little, vocalizing excessively, and being generally listless. [22][23] Despite some favorable anecdotal evidence , the effectiveness of alternative veterinary medicine has been met with skepticism in scientific journals .

[22][23][108] The need for traditional anti-parasite drugs and antibiotics is widespread, and is the main impediment to certified organic farming with sheep. Many buyers avoid outlets known to be clearing houses for animals culled from healthy flocks as either sick or simply inferior. Restraint, isolation, loud noises, novel situations, pain, heat, extreme cold, fatigue and other stressors can lead to secretion of cortisol, a stress hormone, in amounts that may indicate welfare problems.

“Shipping fever” (pneumonic mannheimiosis, formerly called pasteurellosis) is a disease of particular concern, that can occur as a result of stress, notably during transport and (or) handling. Both external and internal parasites are the most prevalent malady in sheep, and are either fatal, or reduce the productivity of flocks. Flies lay their eggs in wounds or wet, manure-soiled wool; when the maggots hatch they burrow into a sheep‘s flesh, eventually causing death if untreated.

In addition to other treatments, crutching (shearing wool from a sheep‘s rump) is a common preventive method. Some countries allow mulesing , a practice that involves stripping away the skin on the rump to prevent fly-strike, normally performed when the sheep is a lamb. [116][117] Nose bots are fly larvae that inhabit a sheep‘s sinuses , causing breathing difficulties and discomfort.

Common signs are a discharge from the nasal passage, sneezing, and frantic movement such as head shaking. Ovine rinderpest (or peste des petits ruminants ) is a highly contagious and often fatal viral disease affecting sheep and goats. Orf (also known as scabby mouth, contagious ecthyma or soremouth) is a skin disease leaving lesions that is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.

More seriously, the organisms that can cause spontaneous enzootic abortion in sheep are easily transmitted to pregnant women. During the 2001 FMD pandemic in the UK, hundreds of sheep were culled and some rare British breeds were at risk of extinction due to this. Fencing (both regular and electric ), penning sheep at night and lambing indoors all continue to be widely used.

In the wake of the environmental and conservation movements, the use of these methods now usually falls under the purview of specially designated government agencies in most developed countries. The 1970s saw a resurgence in the use of livestock guardian dogs and the development of new methods of predator control by sheep producers, many of them non-lethal. [23] Interspecific pasturing, usually with larger livestock such as cattle or horses, may help to deter predators, even if such species do not actively guard sheep.

[41] In addition to animal guardians, contemporary sheep operations may use non-lethal predator deterrents such as motion-activated lights and noisy alarms. Global sheep stock China 163.5 India 74.3 Australia 65.8 Nigeria 46.9 Iran 41.3 Sudan 40.9 Chad 35.9 Turkey 35.2 United Kingdom 33.6 Mongolia 32.3 World total 1,238.7 Source: UN Food and Agriculture Organization Shorn sheep for sale, Kashgar MarketSheep are an important part of the global agricultural economy. [32] China , Australia , India , and Iran have the largest modern flocks, and serve both local and exportation needs for wool and mutton.

[128] Other countries such as New Zealand have smaller flocks but retain a large international economic impact due to their export of sheep products. Wool supplied by Australian farmers to dealers (tonnes/quarter) has been in decline since 1990Domestic sheep provide a wide array of raw materials. [22] For many sheep owners, the cost of shearing is greater than the possible profit from the fleece, making subsisting on wool production alone practically impossible without farm subsidies .

Sheep droppings, which are high in cellulose , have even been sterilized and mixed with traditional pulp materials to make paper. Providing lambs for youth programs such as 4-H and competition at agricultural shows is often a dependable avenue for the sale of sheep. [134] A new option for deriving profit from live sheep is the rental of flocks for grazing; these ” mowing services” are hired in order to keep unwanted vegetation down in public spaces and to lessen fire hazard .

[23][137] Sheep can also consume plants, such as noxious weeds, that most other animals will not touch, and produce more young at a faster rate. [138] Also, in contrast to most livestock species, the cost of raising sheep is not necessarily tied to the price of feed crops such as grain, soybeans and corn. Small farm flocks generally are used simply to control weeds on irrigation ditches or maintained as a hobby.

Sheep meat and milk were one of the earliest staple proteins consumed by human civilization after the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture. [142] “Mutton” is derived from the Old French moton , which was the word for sheep used by the Anglo-Norman rulers of much of the British Isles in the Middle Ages . In the 21st century, 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.

[22][146] Sheep meat is also popular in France , Africa (especially the Arab World ), the Caribbean , the rest of the Middle East , India , and parts of China . Though sheep‘s milk may be drunk rarely in fresh form, [148] today it is used predominantly in cheese and yogurt making. A cloned ewe named Dolly was a scientific landmark.Sheep are generally too large and reproduce too slowly to make ideal research subjects, and thus are not a common model organism .

In the study of natural selection , the population of Soay sheep that remain on the island of Hirta have been used to explore the relation of body size and coloration to reproductive success. The proverbial black sheepSheep have had a strong presence in many cultures, especially in areas where they form the most common type of livestock. [168] This usage derives from the recessive trait that causes an occasional black lamb to be born into an entirely white flock.

Religious symbolism and ritual involving sheep began with some of the first known faiths: Skulls of rams (along with bulls) occupied central placement in shrines at the atalhyk settlement in 8,000 BCE. There are many ancient Greek references to sheep: that of Chrysomallos , the golden-fleeced ram, continuing to be told through into the modern era. [172] In Mongolia , shagai are an ancient form of dice made from the cuboid bones of sheep that are often used for fortunetelling purposes.

Eid al-Adha is a major annual festival in Islam in which sheep (or other animals) are sacrificed in remembrance of this act. ^ Alberto, Florian J.; Boyer, Frdric; Orozco-Terwengel, Pablo; Streeter, Ian; Servin, Bertrand; De Villemereuil, Pierre; Benjelloun, Badr; Librado, Pablo; Biscarini, Filippo; Colli, Licia; Barbato, Mario; Zamani, Wahid; Alberti, Adriana; Engelen, Stefan; Stella, Alessandra; Joost, Stphane; Ajmone-Marsan, Paolo; Negrini, Riccardo; Orlando, Ludovic; Rezaei, Hamid Reza; Naderi, Saeid; Clarke, Laura; Flicek, Paul; Wincker, Patrick; Coissac, Eric; Kijas, James; Tosser-Klopp, Gwenola; Chikhi, Abdelkader; Bruford, Michael W.; et al. (2018). 94 Moving east to the Greater Indus Valley, decreases in the size of cattle, goat, and sheep also appear to have taken place starting in the 6th or even 7th Millennium BC (Meadow 1984b, 1992).

“Heritability of neck folds and face covering in range Rambouillet lambs as evaluated by scoring”. State of the world’s animal genetic resources for food and agriculture ^ DArcy, J.B., Sheep Management & Wool Technology, NSW University Press, 1986, ISBN 0-86840-106-4 ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Wooster ^ Pulina, Giuseppe; Roberta Bencini (2004). ^ a b Kendrick, Keith; da Costa AP; Leigh AE; Hinton MR; Peirce JW (November 2001).

“Vaccination schedules to raise antibody concentrations against epsilon-toxin of Clostridium perfringens in ewes and their triplet lambs”. ^ Jane C. Quinn; Yuchi Chen; Belinda Hackney; Muhammad Shoaib Tufail; Panayiotis Loukopoulos (2018). “Acute-onset high-morbidity primary photosensitisation in sheep associated with consumption of the Casbah and Mauro cultivars of the pasture legume biserrula” .

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Sheep

Sheep are most likely descended from the wild mouflon of Europe and Asia, with Iran being a geographic envelope of the domestication center.Sheep husbandry is practised throughout the majority of the inhabited world, and has been fundamental to many civilizations. In the modern era, Australia, New Zealand, the southern and central South American nations, and the British Isles are most closely associated with sheep production.There is a large lexicon of unique terms for sheep husbandry which vary considerably by region and dialect. Use of the wordBeing a key animal in the history of farming, sheep have a deeply entrenched place in human culture, and find representation in much modern language and symbology. As livestock, sheep are most often associated with pastoral, Arcadian imagery. Sheep figure in many mythologies—such as the Golden Fleece—and major religions, especially the Abrahamic traditions. In both ancient and modern religious ritual, sheep are used as sacrificial animals.

History

The exact line of descent between domestic sheep and their wild ancestors is unclear.Sheep husbandry spread quickly in Europe. Excavations show that in about 6000 BC, during the Neolithic period of prehistory, the Castelnovien people, living around Châteauneuf-les-Martigues near present-day Marseille in the south of France, were among the first in Europe to keep domestic sheep.

Characteristics

Domestic sheep are relatively small ruminants, usually with a crimped hair called wool and often with horns forming a lateral spiral. Domestic sheep differ from their wild relatives and ancestors in several respects, having become uniquely neotenic as a result of selective breeding by humans.Another trait unique to domestic sheep as compared to wild ovines is their wide variation in color. Wild sheep are largely variations of brown hues, and variation within species is extremely limited. Colors of domestic sheep range from pure white to dark chocolate brown, and even spotted or piebald.Depending on breed, sheep show a range of heights and weights. Their rate of growth and mature weight is a heritable trait that is often selected for in breeding.In the first few years of life one can calculate the age of sheep from their front teeth, as a pair of milk teeth is replaced by larger adult teeth each year, the full set of eight adult front teeth being complete at about four years of age. The front teeth are then gradually lost as sheep age, making it harder for them to feed and hindering the health and productivity of the animal. For this reason, domestic sheep on normal pasture begin to slowly decline from four years on, and the life expectancy of a sheep is 10 to 12 years, though some sheep may live as long as 20 years.Sheep have good hearing, and are sensitive to noise when being handled.

Comparison with goats

Sheep and goats are closely related: both are in the subfamily Caprinae. However, they are separate species, so hybrids rarely occur and are always infertile. A hybrid of a ewe and a buck (a male goat) is called a sheep-goat hybrid, and is not to be confused with the sheep-goat chimera, though both are known as

Breeds

The domestic sheep is a multi-purpose animal, 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. Fine wool breeds are those that have wool of great crimp and density, which are preferred for textiles. Most of these were derived from Merino sheep, and the breed continues to dominate the world sheep industry. Downs breeds have wool between the extremes, and are typically fast-growing meat and ram breeds with dark faces.Coarse or carpet wool sheep are those with a medium to long length wool of characteristic coarseness. Breeds traditionally used for carpet wool show great variability, but the chief requirement is a wool that will not break down under heavy use (as would that of the finer breeds). As the demand for carpet-quality wool declines, some breeders of this type of sheep are attempting to use a few of these traditional breeds for alternative purposes. Others have always been primarily meat-class sheep.A minor class of sheep are the dairy breeds. Dual-purpose breeds that may primarily be meat or wool sheep are often used secondarily as milking animals, but there are a few breeds that are predominantly used for milking. These sheep produce a higher quantity of milk and have slightly longer lactation curves.A last group of sheep breeds is that of fur orWith the modern rise of corporate agribusiness and the decline of localized family farms, many breeds of sheep are in danger of extinction. The Rare Breeds Survival Trust of the UK lists 22 native breeds as having only 3,000 registered animals (each), and The Livestock Conservancy lists 14 as either “critical” or “threatened”.

Diet

Sheep are herbivorous mammals. Most breeds prefer to graze on grass and other short roughage, avoiding the taller woody parts of plants that goats readily consume.Like all ruminants, sheep have a complex digestive system composed of four chambers, allowing them to break down cellulose from stems, leaves, and seed hulls into simpler carbohydrates. When sheep graze, vegetation is chewed into a mass called a bolus, which is then passed into the rumen, via the reticulum. The rumen is a 19- to 38-liter (5 to 10 gallon) organ in which feed is fermented.Other than forage, the other staple feed for sheep is hay, often during the winter months. The ability to thrive solely on pasture (even without hay) varies with breed, but all sheep can survive on this diet.

Grazing behavior

Sheep follow a diurnal pattern of activity, feeding from dawn to dusk, stopping sporadically to rest and chew their cud. Ideal pasture for sheep is not lawnlike grass, but an array of grasses, legumes and forbs.

Effects on pasture

Sheep are largely grazing herbivores, unlike browsing animals such as goats and deer that prefer taller foliage. With a much narrower face, sheep crop plants very close to the ground and can overgraze a pasture much faster than cattle.

Flock behavior

Sheep are flock animals and strongly gregarious; much sheep behavior can be understood on the basis of these tendencies. The dominance hierarchy of sheep and their natural inclination to follow a leader to new pastures were the pivotal factors in sheep being one of the first domesticated livestock species.Flock behaviour in sheep is generally only exhibited in groups of four or more sheep; fewer sheep may not react as expected when alone or with few other sheep.In regions where sheep have no natural predators, none of the native breeds of sheep exhibit a strong flocking behavior.

Herding

Farmers exploit flocking behavior to keep sheep together on unfenced pastures such as hill farming, and to move them more easily. For this purpose shepherds may use herding dogs in this effort, with a highly bred herding ability. Sheep are food-oriented, and association of humans with regular feeding often results in sheep soliciting people for food.

Dominance hierarchy

Sheep establish a dominance hierarchy through fighting, threats and competitiveness. Dominant animals are inclined to be more aggressive with other sheep, and usually feed first at troughs.In sheep, position in a moving flock is highly correlated with social dominance, but there is no definitive study to show consistent voluntary leadership by an individual sheep.

Intelligence and learning ability

Sheep are frequently thought of as unintelligent animals.It has been reported that some sheep have apparently shown problem-solving abilities; a flock in West Yorkshire, England allegedly found a way to get over cattle grids by rolling on their backs, although documentation of this has relied on anecdotal accounts.

Vocalisations

Sounds made by domestic sheep include bleats, grunts, rumbles and snorts. Bleating (“baaing”) is used mostly for contact communication, especially between dam and lambs, but also at times between other flock members.

Senses

In sheep breeds lacking facial wool, the visual field is wide. In 10 sheep (Cambridge, Lleyn and Welsh Mountain breeds, which lack facial wool), the visual field ranged from 298° to 325°, averaging 313.1°, with binocular overlap ranging from 44.5° to 74°, averaging 61.7°.Taste is the most important sense in sheep, establishing forage preferences, with sweet and sour plants being preferred and bitter plants being more commonly rejected. Touch and sight are also important in relation to specific plant characteristics, such as succulence and growth form.The ram uses his vomeronasal organ (sometimes called the Jacobson’s organ) to sense the pheromones of ewes and detect when they are in estrus.

Reproduction

Sheep follow a similar reproductive strategy to other herd animals. A group of ewes is generally mated by a single ram, who has either been chosen by a breeder or (in feral populations) has established dominance through physical contest with other rams.In feral sheep, rams may fight during the rut to determine which individuals may mate with ewes. Rams, especially unfamiliar ones, will also fight outside the breeding period to establish dominance; rams can kill one another if allowed to mix freely.After mating, sheep have a gestation period of about five months,Ovine obstetrics can be problematic. By selectively breeding ewes that produce multiple offspring with higher birth weights for generations, sheep producers have inadvertently caused some domestic sheep to have difficulty lambing; balancing ease of lambing with high productivity is one of the dilemmas of sheep breeding.Most lambs begin life being born outdoors. After lambs are several weeks old, lamb marking (ear tagging, docking, mulesing, and castrating) is carried out.

Health

Sheep may fall victim to poisons, infectious diseases, and physical injuries. As a prey species, a sheep‘s system is adapted to hide the obvious signs of illness, to prevent being targeted by predators.Many breeders take a variety of preventive measures to ward off problems. The first is to ensure all sheep are healthy when purchased. Many buyers avoid outlets known to be clearing houses for animals culled from healthy flocks as either sick or simply inferior.Common forms of preventive medication for sheep are vaccinations and treatments for parasites. Both external and internal parasites are the most prevalent malady in sheep, and are either fatal, or reduce the productivity of flocks.A wide array of bacterial and viral diseases affect sheep. Diseases of the hoof, such as foot rot and foot scald may occur, and are treated with footbaths and other remedies. Foot rot is present in over 97% of flocks in the UK.A few sheep conditions are transmissible to humans. Orf (also known as scabby mouth, contagious ecthyma or soremouth) is a skin disease leaving lesions that is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Cutaneous anthrax is also called woolsorter’s disease, as the spores can be transmitted in unwashed wool. More seriously, the organisms that can cause spontaneous enzootic abortion in sheep are easily transmitted to pregnant women. Also of concern are the prion disease scrapie and the virus that causes foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), as both can devastate flocks. The latter poses a slight risk to humans. During the 2001 FMD pandemic in the UK, hundreds of sheep were culled and some rare British breeds were at risk of extinction due to this.Of the 600,300 sheep lost to the US economy in 2004, 37.3% were lost to predators, while 26.5% were lost to some form of disease. Poisoning accounted for 1.7% of non-productive deaths.

Predators

Other than parasites and disease, predation is a threat to sheep and the profitability of sheep raising. Sheep have little ability to defend themselves, compared with other species kept as livestock. Even if sheep survive an attack, they may die from their injuries or simply from panic.Sheep producers have used a wide variety of measures to combat predation. Pre-modern shepherds used their own presence, livestock guardian dogs, and protective structures such as barns and fencing. Fencing (both regular and electric), penning sheep at night and lambing indoors all continue to be widely used.The 1970s saw a resurgence in the use of livestock guardian dogs and the development of new methods of predator control by sheep producers, many of them non-lethal.

Economic importance

Sheep are an important part of the global agricultural economy. However, their once vital status has been largely replaced by other livestock species, especially the pig, chicken, and cow.Domestic sheep provide a wide array of raw materials. Wool was one of the first textiles, although in the late 20th century wool prices began to fall dramatically as the result of the popularity and cheap prices for synthetic fabrics.Sheepskin is likewise used for making clothes, footwear, rugs, and other products. Byproducts from the slaughter of sheep are also of value: sheep tallow can be used in candle and soap making, sheep bone and cartilage has been used to furnish carved items such as dice and buttons as well as rendered glue and gelatin.Some farmers who keep sheep also make a profit from live sheep. Providing lambs for youth programs such as 4-H and competition at agricultural shows is often a dependable avenue for the sale of sheep.Despite the falling demand and price for sheep products in many markets, sheep have distinct economic advantages when compared with other livestock. They do not require expensive housing,

As food

Sheep meat and milk were one of the earliest staple proteins consumed by human civilization after the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture.In the 21st century, 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.Though sheep‘s milk may be drunk rarely in fresh form,As with other domestic animals, the meat of uncastrated males is inferior in quality, especially as they grow. A “bucky” lamb is a lamb which was not castrated early enough, or which was castrated improperly (resulting in one testicle being retained). These lambs are worth less at market.

In science

Sheep are generally too large and reproduce too slowly to make ideal research subjects, and thus are not a common model organism.As of 2008, the sheep genome has not been fully sequenced, although a detailed genetic map has been published,In the study of natural selection, the population of Soay sheep that remain on the island of Hirta have been used to explore the relation of body size and coloration to reproductive success.Sheep are one of the few animals where the molecular basis of the diversity of male sexual preferences has been examined.Domestic sheep are sometimes used in medical research, particularly for researching cardiovascular physiology, in areas such as hypertension and heart failure.

Cultural impact

Sheep have had a strong presence in many cultures, especially in areas where they form the most common type of livestock. In the English language, to call someone a sheep or ovine may allude that they are timid and easily led.Counting sheep is popularly said to be an aid to sleep, and some ancient systems of counting sheep persist today. Sheep also enter in colloquial sayings and idiom frequently with such phrases as “black sheep“. To call an individual a black sheep implies that they are an odd or disreputable member of a group.

In heraldry

In British heraldry, sheep appear in the form of rams, sheep proper and lambs. These are distinguished by the ram being depicted with horns and a tail, the sheep with neither and the lamb with its tail only. A further variant of the lamb, termed the Paschal lamb, is depicted as carrying a Christian cross and with a halo over its head. Rams’ heads, portrayed without a neck and facing the viewer, are also found in British armories. The fleece, depicted as an entire sheepskin carried by a ring around its midsection, originally became known through its use in the arms of the Order of the Golden Fleece and was later adopted by towns and individuals with connections to the wool industry.

Religion and folklore

In antiquity, symbolism involving sheep cropped up in religions in the ancient Near East, the Mideast, and the Mediterranean area: Çatalhöyük, ancient Egyptian religion, the Cana’anite and Phoenician tradition, Judaism, Greek religion, and others. Religious symbolism and ritual involving sheep began with some of the first known faiths: Skulls of rams (along with bulls) occupied central placement in shrines at the Çatalhöyük settlement in 8,000 BCE.There are many ancient Greek references to sheep: that of Chrysomallos, the golden-fleeced ram, continuing to be told through into the modern era. Astrologically, Aries, the ram, is the first sign of the classical Greek zodiac, and the sheep is the eighth of the twelve animals associated with the 12-year cycle of in the Chinese zodiac, related to the Chinese calendar.Sheep play an important role in all the Abrahamic faiths; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, King David and the Islamic prophet Muhammad were all shepherds. According to the Biblical story of the Binding of Isaac, a ram is sacrificed as a substitute for Isaac after an angel stays Abraham’s hand (in the Islamic tradition, Abraham was about to sacrifice Ishmael). Eid al-Adha is a major annual festival in Islam in which sheep (or other animals) are sacrificed in remembrance of this act.Collectively, followers of Christianity are often referred to as a flock, with Christ as the Good Shepherd, and sheep are an element in the Christian iconography of the birth of Jesus. Some Christian saints are considered patrons of shepherds, and even of sheep themselves. Christ is also portrayed as the Sacrificial lamb of God (Sheep are key symbols in fables and nursery rhymes like