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Sheep 101

Natalie has many sheep on her farm, including this Babydoll Southdown breed, named Fat Face Lamb.

One of the friendly sheep on Natalie's farm. (View larger version)

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  • Sheep are classified as ruminants. This is because they have a four-chamber stomach. Other ruminants in the animal kingdom include cattle, goats, deer, llamas, camels, buffalo and giraffes.
  • Farmers shear their sheep at least once a year. When they do, the average sheep’s fleece weighs 8 to 10 pounds.
  • There are 47 breeds and types of sheep in the U.S.
  • A sheep digests its food in two steps. First, by eating the raw materials and regurgitating a semi-digested form know as “cud,” then eating the cud.
  • Sheep are herbivores that primarily eat grass, weeds, hay and silage.
  • Raising sheep is considered one of the oldest organized agricultural industries in the world.  Around ten thousand years ago, the civilization of Mesopotamia began to domesticate animals such as sheep, in order to provide themselves with food, clothing and shelter.
  • When halter breaking a sheep, the key is to start young.  By the end of the halter breaking process a lamb should be able to be touched by a stranger without becoming alarmed.
  • There are two classifications of yarn: worsted and woolen.  Worsted is when the wool has been tightly spun for a denser yarn.  Woolen is when the yarn has air between the fibers giving it a far less dense feel. 
  • When a sheep is sick, it will usually separate itself from the rest of its flock. Signs of illness include irregular eating habits, experiencing diarrhea, grinding teeth or signs of depression.
  • Wool naturally absorbs moisture, and in turn can become susceptible to molding and mildew when kept in a damp area.
  • Bloat is a common cause of death in sheep and other livestock. It usually stems from nutritional causes and can be treated with commercial anti-bloating agents and a mineral or vegetable oil flush.
Dee daniel
Dee daniel

Sheep come in all sizes and weights