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Sheep Products

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Sheep Products

  • Meat
  • Wool
  • Lanolin
  • Skins
  • Persian Lambskin
  • Dairy
  • Science
  • Medicine
  • Landscape Management
  • Meat - Sheep meat and milk were one of the earliest staple proteins consumed by human civilization after the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture. Sheep meat prepared for food is known as either mutton or lamb. "Mutton" is derived from the Old French moton, which was the word for sheep used by the Anglo-Norman rulers of much of the British Isles in the Middle Ages. This became the name for sheep meat in English, while the Old English word sceap was kept for the live animal. Throughout modern history, "mutton" has been limited to the meat of mature sheep usually at least two years of age; "lamb" is used for that of immature sheep less than a year.

    World meat consumption
    40 percent
    32 percent
    22 percent
      Lamb and mutton
    6 percent

  • Wool - Domestic sheep provide a wide array of raw materials. Wool was one of the first textiles, although in the late 20th century wool prices began to fall dramatically as the result of the popularity and cheap prices for synthetic fabrics. For many sheep owners, the cost of shearing is greater than the possible profit from the fleece, making subsisting on wool production alone practically impossible without farm subsidies. Fleeces are used as material in making alternative products such as wool insulation.

  • Lanolin - Raw wool contains 10 to 25 percent grease or "lanolin," which is recovered during the scouring process. Lanolin consists of a highly complex mixture of esters, alcohols, and fatty acids and is used in adhesive tape, printing inks, motor oils, and auto lubrication. Lanolin is also used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Virtually all cosmetics and beauty aids, such as lipsticks, mascara, lotions, shampoos, and hair conditioners, contain lanolin.

  • Skins - Sheepskin is used for making clothes, footwear, rugs, and other products.

  • Persian Lambskins - It is typically used in full-fur garments, such as coats and skirts, and as trimming, edging, lining, and for accessories.

  • Dairy - Though sheep's milk may be drunk rarely in fresh form, today it is used predominantly in cheese and yogurt making. Sheep have only two teats, and produce a far smaller volume of milk than cows. However, as sheep's milk contains far more fat, solids, and minerals than cow's milk, it is ideal for the cheese-making process. It also resists contamination during cooling better because of its much higher calcium content. Well-known cheeses made from sheep milk include the Feta of Bulgaria and Greece, Roquefort of France, Manchego from Spain, the Pecorino Romano (the Italian word for sheep is pecore) and Ricotta of Italy. Yogurts, especially some forms of strained yogurt, may also be made from sheep milk. Many of these products are now often made with cow's milk, especially when produced outside their country of origin. Sheep milk contains 4.8% lactose, which may affect those who are intolerant.

  • Science - Sheep are generally too large and reproduce too slowly to make ideal research subjects, and thus are not a common model organism. They have, however, played an influential role in some fields of science. In particular, the Roslin Institute of Edinburgh, Scotland used sheep for genetics research that produced ground-breaking results. In 1995, two ewes named Megan and Morag were the first mammals cloned from differentiated cells. A year later, a Finnish Dorset sheep named Dolly, dubbed "the world's most famous sheep" in Scientific American, was the first mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell.

  • Medicine - Domestic sheep are sometimes used in medical research, particularly for researching cardiovascular physiology, in areas such as hypertension and heart failure.] Pregnant sheep are also a useful model for human pregnancy, and have been used to investigate the effects on fetal development of malnutrition and hypoxia.

  • Landscape Management - While sheep are been use for centuries to control unwanted vegetation, grazing as a fee-service is a relatively new phenomenon. Along with goats, sheep are the best livestock to use to control unwanted vegetation, such as fuel breaks, noxious weeds, and invasive plants.

Livestock Products