The sheep is a herbivorous and ruminant mammal, belonging to the Bovidae family.Sheep can be found all over the world except in the Arctic. Bred by humans for nearly 10,000 years, the sheep is a descendant from the wild mouflon. It has a flat face with lips, short legs and a thick coat of soft and fine wool. In addition to species in the wild, there are many domestic breeds that man has cultivated over time and which are distinguished by their size and types of wool. The males or “rams” of larger breeds can weigh up to 190 kilograms.Some breeds have curved horns.The sheep spends most of its day feeding on grass in meadows. Its digestive system enables it to eat large amounts of grass in a short time and is much more effective than that of cows by comparison. The sheep feeds on grass by squeezing it between its tongue and upper lip, and then tears the grass away by pressing its lower incisors against a non-toothed bone plate which is located in the upper part of its mouth. Sheep are known for their meek behavior, but they are very social and gregarious, and tend to spontaneously form herds and follow a leader. Sheep reproduce very quickly: gestation is only 5 months. Females may give birth every year to 1 to 5 small calves, although they usually give birth to just two. The offspring, called lambs, are able to take their first steps within a few hours. The sheep’s natural enemies are coyotes and wolves, which can kill in large numbers and attack the animal at its throat. It is not uncommon for bears to attack sheep as well. A sheep’s lifespan is usually 10-12 years, but some sheep can live up to 20 years. Breeding sheep has always been of great importance to man. In addition to cultivating its wool and milk, sheep are also bred for their flesh. In fact, ancient religions once offered lambs as a sacrifice to the gods and many sects still eat lamb during the holidays.
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