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  • Welcome 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.

  • About the 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.

  • Susan Schoenian
    Sheep & Goat Specialist
    W. MD Research & Education Center
    University of Maryland Extension - (301) 432-2767 x343

Katahdin ewe


 Corriedale ram
Corriedale ram

 My dad, the shepherd

Sheep farm in Mexico
A sheep farm in Mexico

    Sheep terminology

  • Sheep and lambs
    Sheep are over one year of age. They have usually produced offspring. Lambs are less than one year of age. They have usually not produced offspring.

  • Lamb and mutton
    Lamb is also the term for the flesh of a young domestic sheep eaten as food. The meat from a sheep that is older than 12 months is called mutton.

  • Wool
    The fiber that most sheep grow is called wool. The wool from one sheep is called a fleece. Many fleeces from the same farm, wool pool, region, or state are called a clip.

  • Ewes
    A female sheep is called a ewe. Yoe is a slang term for ewe. A young female is called a ewe lamb. The process of giving birth to lambs is called lambing. Another word for birthing is parturition. Another word for pregnancy is gestation.

  • Rams
    A male sheep is called a ram. Buck is the slang term for ram. A young male is called a ram lamb. In parts of the United Kingdom, a ram is called a tup and the mating season is called tupping.

  • Wethers
    A castrated male sheep is called a wether. Wethers are less aggressive than rams. George is a wether.

  • Yearling
    A yearling is an animal between 1 and 2 years of age that may or may not have produced offspring. In other countries, a yearling ewe is called a hogget, shearling, gimmer, theave, or teg.

  • Flock
    A group of sheep is called a flock. Larger groups of sheep are called bands or mobs.

  • Shepherd
    A shepherd is a person who cares for sheep.

  • Sheepherder
    A sheepherder is a herder of sheep (on open range). It is someone who keeps the sheep together in a flock. In the U.S., the sheepherder is not usually the owner of the sheep.

  • Farm (n)
    A farm is an area of land, including various structures, devoted primarily to the practice of producing and managing food. It usually includes cultivated land for producing crops

  • Ranch
    A ranch is a farm consisting of a large tract of land along with facilities needed to raise livestock.

  • Abattoir
    An abattoir is a building where animals are slaughtered and processed into meat products. It comes from the French word, abattre, "to strike down."