Sheep

Table of Contents (hide)

  1.   1.  Description
    1.   1.1  Behavior
    2.   1.2  Age
    3.   1.3  Types
    4.   1.4  Food
    5.   1.5  Farming
    6.   1.6  Habitat
  2.   2.  Speech
  3.   3.  Uses
  4.   4.  More
  5.   5.  'Souls
Latin Ovis aries
Common Sheep
Icon(s) Lamb Ram Ewe
Lamb Lamb Lamb
Sheep

1.  Description

Domestic sheep are relatively small ruminants, usually with a crimped hair called wool and often with horns forming a lateral spiral. Sheep have horizontal slit-shaped pupils, possessing excellent peripheral vision. Domestic sheep differ from their wild relatives and ancestors in several respects.

1.1  Behavior

Sheep are flock animals and strongly gregarious; much sheep behavior can be understood on the basis of these tendencies. The dominance hierarchy of sheep and their natural inclination to follow a leader to new pastures led to early domestication. Cornered sheep may charge and butt, or threaten by hoof stamping and adopting an aggressive posture. This is particularly true for ewes with newborn lambs.

Sheep have poor depth perception; shadows and dips in the ground may cause sheep to baulk. Sheep have a tendency to move out of the dark and into well-lit areas, and prefer to move uphill when disturbed. Sheep can become hefted to one particular local pasture (heft) so they do not roam freely in unfenced landscapes.

Sounds made by domestic sheep include bleats, grunts, rumbles and snorts. Bleating ("baaing") is used mostly for contact communication, especially between dam and lambs, but also at times between other flock members. Apart from contact communication, bleating may signal distress, frustration or impatience; however, sheep are usually silent when in pain.

1.2  Age

The front teeth are gradually lost as sheep age, making it harder for them to feed and hindering the health and productivity of the animal. For this reason, domestic sheep on normal pasture begin to slowly decline from four years on, and the average life expectancy of a sheep is 10 to 12 years, though some sheep may live as long as 20 years.

1.3  Types

An important note regarding "breeds" and "types" of domesticated animals:

As with most formerly animals, the "types" of this domesticated animal are likely to have interbred significantly. Breeds are no longer in existence: however, traits of these particular breeds (the most frequently reared) are likely to persist in the wild landrace of this type of animal found in 'Souls.

Without selective breeding, formerly domesticated animals would breed indiscriminately. Over a few generations, it's likely they would begin to revert to their former wild type and lose some of the characteristics enforced by humans and breeding. While not enough time has passed for all selectively bred traits to disappear, it's likely many of these traits have become blended into one another.

Sheep and Goats are closely related. However, they are separate species, so hybrids rarely occur, and are always infertile.

Wild Sheep

Wild sheep are largely variations of brown hues, and variation within species is extremely limited. Selection for easily dyeable white fleeces began early in sheep domestication, and as white wool is a dominant trait it spread quickly. However, colored sheep do appear.

Merino Sheep

The Merino is an excellent forager and very adaptable. A Merino produces between 3–6 kg (6.6–13 lb) to 18 kg (40 lb) of greasy wool a year.

1.4  Food

Sheep are exclusively herbivorous mammals. Most breeds prefer to graze on grass and other short roughage, avoiding the taller woody parts of plants that goats readily consume. Common plants toxic to sheep are present in most of the world, and include (but are not limited to) cherry, some Oaks and acorns, Tomato, Yew, Rhubarb, Potato, and Rhododendron.

1.5  Farming

  • Their flocking behavior and quickness to flee and panic can make shepherding a difficult endeavor for the uninitiated.

Breeding

A group of ewes is generally mated by a single ram. Ewes generally reach sexual maturity at six to eight months of age, and rams generally at four to six months. Ewes have estrus cycles about every 17 days. After mating, sheep have a gestation period of about five months, and normal labor takes one to three hours. Most produce single or twin lambs.

1.6  Habitat

Virtually everywhere. Concentrated areas include Sticks and Stones, particularly the marshy easterly areas. Northern Tides, especially the Isthmus of Chignecto.

2.  Speech

According to our Speech Guide, this creature speaks Low Speech naturally. It is therefore not able to communicate with Luperci. This creature is listed as having the ability to learn some limited comprehension of high speech, but generally will never be able to speak it.

3.  Uses

  • Sheep are raised for fleece, meat (lamb, hogget or mutton) and milk.

Wool

A sheep's wool is the most widely used animal fiber, and is usually harvested by shearing. It then must be scoured to remove the grease (lanolin). Sheep are usually shorn once per year. Consideration is typically made as to the welfare of the lambs by not shearing during cold climate winters. Shorn sheep tolerate frosts well, but young sheep especially will suffer in cold, wet windy weather.

In addition to clothing, wool has been used for blankets, horse rugs, saddle cloths, carpeting, felt, wool insulation (also see links) and upholstery.

4.  More

5.  'Souls

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Categories: Fauna | Resources