George's tail was docked when he was a baby lamb.
He wishes somebody would put it back, because
sometimes his hiney gets cold.

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Not all sheep need to have their tails docked.

It is not customary to shorten the tails of lambs from the hair sheep breeds: Katahdin,
American Blackbelly, Barbados Blackbelly, St. Croix, Wiltshire Horn, Pelibüey, Santa Inês, and Royal White®.

Katahdin ram lamb
Katahdin ram lamb

lambs in feedlot
Hair sheep ram lambs in Barbados

Some wooled sheep have naturally short tails or thin, woolless tails that do not require docking. These breeds are called Northern European short-tailed sheep or "rat-tailed" breeds. They inlcude Finn Sheep, East Friesian, Shetland, Icelandic, Romanov, and Soay. These breeds originate from Northern Europe.

Using some of these short-tailed breeds as a basis, scientists in Australia and New Zealand are hoping to breed sheep with short tails that do not need docked (shortened) and make the sheep less prone to fly strike. Years ago, researchers tried to breed "tailless" sheep. They found that the tailless trait was linked to a deadly gene, as with Manx cats.


Finn Sheep
Finn Sheep



East Friesian ewe
East Friesian ewes

Photo courtesy of Crane Creek
Some sheep have "fat" or broad tails or rumps. It is not customary to remove their tails. The fat tail is considered to be a delicacy. Sheep-tail fat is called allyah (in Arabic). Though other fats and oils have largely replaced sheep-tail fat, it is still used in modern Arabic cookery, especially in rural, mountaineous areas. Historical religious text (Hadith) claims that sheep-tail fat was a "cure" for sciatica (lower back and leg pain caused by irriation of the sciatic nerve).

Awassi breed
Awassi ram in Kazakhstan

Rahmani ewe
Rahmani ram in Egypt

. . New Words . .

Delicacy - a choice food.

Hadith - the teachings of the Prophet Muhammed (Muslim religion)

Manx - a breed of cat with a naturally short tail.

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