Last Reviewed and Updated on July 8, 2022
Sheep are one of the most popular farm animals in the world. They are bred for meat, milk, and wool production, but many people aren’t aware of some of the more unusual facts about sheep – read on and you will find out what they are.
1. A female sheep is a ewe and an intact male is a ram
We’re kicking off this list of facts about sheep with some basic names. A female is a ewe, a male is a ram, a castrated male is a wether and a young sheep is a lamb regardless of its gender.
2. Sheep is one of the earliest animals that were domesticated
Humans and sheep have a lot of history together. Sheep are one of the earliest animals to be domesticated and they were domesticated in the stone age.
3. A group of sheep is a flock
This one is worth remembering as these animals live in groups. If a sheep separates from the group it will become highly agitated.
4. The number of horns varies between species, from 0 to several
When you think about sheep, you usually imagine a white fluffy female sheep with no horns and a ram with a single pair of spiraled impressive horns. But there are differences between breeds, some having more horns than others.
5. Jacob sheep can have as many as 6 horns
Jacob sheep is one of the most interesting breeds of sheep with one of the most distinguishing features of this breed being the number of their horns. It most commonly has 4 horns, which is already pretty cool but can have 6 as well.
Think this is weird? Go ahead and give our weird animal facts a read.
6. They have horizontal slit-shaped pupils
As sheep are prey animals they have adapted in such a way that they are more likely to spot predators before it’s too late. One of these adaptations is their horizontal eyes. The elongated pupils give them a better field of vision. It is estimated their field of vision is greater than 270 degrees. We have a field of vision of only about 155 degrees.
7. They are closely related to goats and can, on rare occasions, conceive a hybrid
Sheep are closely related to goats, antelopes, cattle, and muskoxen, with goats being the most closely related.
Geeps or shoats are sheep-goat hybrids. While they can mate, the offsprings mostly die as embryos or are stillborn. There have been rare reports of living hybrids.
8. With changes in modern agriculture, some sheep species are close to extinction
One of the saddest facts about sheep. As humans always strive to achieve “bigger and better” some sheep species aren’t as commercially appealing as others and there is less incentive to breed them.
9. They are diurnal animals
This means sheep are most active during the day and sleep at night. Sheep are able to sleep both standing and lying down.
10. Their primary defense mechanism is to flee
When facing danger, the sheep’s first instinct is to run away.
They generally don’t stand up and fight predators but it does happen on rare occasions, especially with rams and dominant eves.
11. Their “baaa” sounds are bleating
Sheep make a distinct “baaa” sound, the sound they make is called bleating. They make these sounds to communicate with each other.
They also produce a variety of other noises.
12. They have a strong presence in many cultures
Since sheep are one of the first animals that were domesticated they share a long history with humans. They are parts of many religions and mythology as well are present in many myths, legends, and stories.