A ewe is a female sheep. These herd animals provide meat, milk, and wool. There are more different breeds of sheep than any other livestock species. Domesticated sheep need plenty of human assistance for protection, hoof and wool trimming, predator control, and health maintenance. Breeders have developed domestic breeds that focus on the quality of wool, meat, or milk. Among the wool breeds, certain breeds grow finer or poorer quality wool. Besides domesticated breeds of sheeps, sheep also exist in the wild, and have developed tough survival characteristics to ensure the continuation of the species. Typically, wild sheep live in rocky, mountainous regions of the world.
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Mammalia
Order - Artiodactyla
Family - Bovidae
Subfamily - Caprinae
Genus - Ovis
Species - O. orientalis (Mouflon - believed to be the wild ancestor of the domestic sheep), O. aries (Domestic Sheep), Ewe refers to female sheep
Sheep are four-legged mammals with blocky bodies and small heads. They are sometimes polled and sometimes horned. Most sheep have fluffy wool that needs to be sheared at least once a year, with the notable exception of the Khatadin sheep, which has hair and does not need shearing. Sheep can be white, brown, creamy beige, black, gray, or spotted. The ears of a sheep can be erect or drooping. Many domesticated sheep are born with long tails, but most farmers dock, or trim, the tails to avoid manure build-up on them and improve herd health. Depending on the breed, ewes can weigh between 90 and 300 pounds.
Ewes are sexually mature around the age of five to eight months. However, most shepherds wait until the ewe has reached her maximum growth around ten months of age before breeding her to the ram (male sheep). She will be pregnant for four and a half to five months before giving birth. Twins and triplets are extremely common for sheep. A ewe's baby is called a lamb, and it will weigh about five to eight pounds. She will nurse her lambs for about three months before weaning.
Sheep are often characterized as one of the stupider farm animals. However, sheep are as intelligent as many other forms of livestock. They tend to clump together in herds and freeze up when they are startled or threatened. This is their only form of defense. Sheep are extremely social animals and very selective in their grazing preferences.
During the Stone Age, people hunted wild sheep for meat. However, around 10,000 BC, people in West Asia began domesticating sheep. They bred them to be less intelligent than wild sheep so that they could be more easily kept for milk and for meat. By 4,000 BC, sheep had spread from the Middle East all over Europe, even as far as Great Britain. By 3,000 BC, people had bred sheep with longer, woolier hair that could be spun into threads. By Roman times, many varieties of sheep existed, and shepherds managed their flocks to accentuate desired characteristics. In the Middle Ages, Europeans depended heavily on sheep for wool and meat.
Sheep are the most popular form of livestock across the globe. There are large numbers of domesticated sheep in Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States. However, wild sheep exist in many places in rocky mountainous regions.