Sheep really love to travel in packs, making them very handy to count whenever you are trying to fall asleep. In fact, from up above sheep sort of look like clouds on earth.
Sheep have earned a reputation for being “dumb” simply because they like to congregate in teams, but sheep are not dense at all, on the contrary sheep are pretty intelligent. They can surpass monkeys when it comes to a number of different mental tasks, and are known to have the same clever tendencies of the pig. Sheep are able to problem-solve, and recognize familiar faces. They are also equipped with a long-term memory, as well as the ability to quickly learn new tasks.
No matter how you shear the wool, sheep are downright adorable!
All over the world there are more than one billion sheep, in the US there are 5.5 million sheep, but unlike human populations the number of sheep continues to go down. Back in the 1800’s there were 7 million sheep roaming the US.
Texas, California, and Wyoming have the highest numbers of sheep in the US today. Montana has the largest declining population of sheep in the US. Today 210,000 sheep roam Montana, down from 475,00 in 1975, and 300,000 sheep in 2003.
In New Zealand there are still 7 sheep to every 1 one human. But back in 1982 there were 22 sheep to every 1 person, or rather 70.3 million sheep.
Before you get goats confused with sheep, know that sheep are very different from goats genetically speaking. Goats have 60 chromosomes, while sheep have 54.
The technical names for sheep:
A female sheep = Ewe
A male sheep = Ram
Castrated male sheep = Wether
Young sheep under 14 months = Lamb
Wool clothing has existed for many years, evidence dates all the way back to 10,000 B.C.
Sheep have great eyesight, especially their peripheral vision that allows them to see nearly 360 degrees around their body. Sheep don’t even have to turn around to see what is approaching from behind. This helps sheep avoid their key predators, which include coyotes, big cats, foxes, dogs, and some very large eagles!
Don’t forget about Dolly, the first animal to ever be cloned back in 1996. Unfortunately, Dolly the sheep passed away back in 2003 due to lung disease.
Despite the fact sheep like to hang out in groups, they show incredible signs of independence almost immediately after birth. Still, Ewes remain close to their baby lambs, and use a special bleating sound to communicate to their child from afar.
Sheep hang out together for protection, but they are also emotional creatures. Their emotions can be partially read through the movements of their ears. They also display (and recognize) emotion through facial expressions, as well as different sounds they make.
Deveronvale Perfection is the world’s most expensive sheep, back in 2009 at only 8-months old the Scottish ram was sold for $380,000 to a farmer that breeds sheep in Scotland.
Wool is truly incredible, it is resistant to fire, wrinkles, and moisture. Plus it is durable and full of insulation for warmth and protection. In Spain before the 18th century, it was punishable by death to export sheep out of the country because their soft wool was so highly valued.
For all of my fellow animal lovers out there, sheep don’t have to be killed in order for us to benefit from their wool. Large sheep can produce up to 30 pounds of wool each year.
No butts about it, sheep are the shear greatest!
Photo Credits: wallpaperweb.org, Graham Smith, Regina Dispade, Marchin Sobas, Sobas, Tran Liethung, Klaus Leidorf, Roza Vulf, Orthan Kose, Vida Dimovska, Coolberie, Sobas, Jonathan Brown, Florent Courty, Anna Cseresnjes, Dzung Viet Le, Peter Konig, David Butali, Dariusz Paciorek, Marcin Sobas, Mihai Doarna, Alin Stoianovici, spin360, Marcin Sobas, Jerry Webb