10 Things about Sheep Your Teachers Probably Didn't Tell You

10 Interesting Facts About Sheep

1. The scientific name for domesticated sheep is Ovis aries. The word sheep itself, originated from the Old English word scēap.

2. Sheep have a terrific sense of smell, with scent glands in front of their eyes as well as on their feet.

3. Sheep are mainly solely grazing herbivores. For this reason, they are often used in conservation grazing as they eat invasive plants.

4. While it is widely known that sheep flock together, not everyone knows that many breeds of sheep stick to the same grazing spot. When sheep are 'hefted' they are taught to graze in the same area or 'heft'. This is usually learnt by lambs from their mother.

5. Lanolin is a sheep by-product. The waterproof, fatty oil is found naturally in wool. Lanolin is used as a base in cosmetic products and is considered to be one of the most valuable by-products of sheep.

6. What is the difference between lamb and mutton? Both are meat from sheep but 'mutton' is the meat of an older sheep while 'lamb' is the meat of a young sheep.

7. Sheep milk is often used in cheese and yoghurt making but is not as popular as milk from cows or goats.

8. Originally codenamed '6LL3' Dolly "the world's most famous sheep" was a Finnish Dorset sheep who was the first mammal to be successfully cloned from an adult somatic cell by nuclear transfer. Dolly lived to nearly seven years of age before dying from a lung disease.

9. The everyday saying of "counting sheep" as a means to fall asleep was around back in the 1600s and is referred to in Spanish novel 'Don Quixote' by Miguel de Cervantes.

10. A common assumption is that because sheep flock together they are unintelligent. However, research has shown that sheep have an IQ level equal to that of cattle and slightly below the IQ levels of pigs. Sheep can learn and remember the faces of humans and other sheep, and remember more than 50 for several years. Lambs can be trained to respond to a name and it has also been suggested that sheep are capable of problem solving and making 'executive decisions'.


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