to Sheep 101.
The purpose of Sheep 101 is to teach 4-H and FFA members,
students, teachers, beginning shepherds, and the general public
about sheep, their products, how they are raised, and their
contributions to society. The site uses simple language and
pictures to illustrate the various topics. To begin learning
about sheep, click on a link in the menu bar or choose a topic
from the drop down menu above.
author. The author of Sheep 101 is Susan
Schoenian, Sheep & Goat Specialist at the University
of Maryland's Western Maryland Research & Education Center.
Susan has been with University of Maryland Extension since 1988. She raises Katahdin sheep on her small farm, called
The Baalands, in Clear
Spring, Maryland. Susan has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Animal Science degrees from Virginia
Tech and Montana State University, respectively.
Sheep & Goat Specialist
W. MD Research & Education Center
University of Maryland Extension
email@example.com - (301) 432-2767 x343
Horned vs. Polled While originally all rams had horns, sheep can have horns
or not, depending upon their breed, sex, and genetics. In some
sheep breeds, both sexes are horned. In some breeds, only the
rams have horns. Rams usually have larger, more striking horns
than ewes. When neither sex is horned, the breed is said to
be polled or naturally hornless.
Some sheep breeds have both a horned and
polled strain. Partial or undeveloped horns are call scurs.
While horns are sometimes removed from cows or goats for safety
and management ease, horns are seldom removed from sheep unless
they pose a danger to the animal.
A sheep's horns are hollow, consisting of a keratinous sheath
overlying a bony core that is attached to the skull. Horns will
grown through a sheep's lifetime, with the most rapid growth
occuring during the first two to three years of life.
Sheep horns tend to curl and spiral, whereas goat horns grow
straight out or up. Some rams have such beautiful horns that
they are raised as "trophy" animals. Horns can be
made into knife handles, hair combs, powder horns, and horse
Four horns Rare genetics allow some sheep to have four or more horns.
Horns are useful to wild sheep, but don't have much of a purpose
in commercial sheep production systems. Horns can make handling
sheep, especially rams more difficult and dangerous, and more
time consuming. Horned animals can get the heads stuck in fences,
feeders, and equipment. As a result, selection has been for
polled animals over the years.