Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Sheep, a book-name for any individual of a genus (Ovis) of Hollow-horned Ruminants, closely allied to the Goats, from which they are distinguished by their convex spiral horns, beardless chin, the presence of sub-orbital glands and tear-pits, and of foot-glands in the hind as well as in the fore feet. Neither canines nor upper incisors are present. The male is called a ram, the female a ewe; the young are lambs, and their flesh is lamb; that of sheep is mutton. There are about a dozen species, chiefly Palaearctic, but ranging into the neighbouring parts of the Oriental region, and the Rocky Mountain Sheep (q.v.) is American. Central Asia is the chief home of Wlld Sbeep [ARGALI], whence they range to Northern India, eastward to Tibet, westward to Asia Minor, and northwards to Kanitchatka. There is one African species, the Aoudad (q.v.). Europe has two:- the Mouflon (O. musimon) from Corsica and Sardinia, and O. ophion almost extinct, from Cyprus. All frequent high and rocky ground, and are gregarious, a habit which subsists in the domestic species. The flocks are generally composed of females and young males, the older males usually living apart at a higher elevation. While the flock is feeding, sentinels are posted, and these give notice of the approach of danger by a sharp whistling sound, and then safety is sought in flight. At certain seasons desperate encounters take place between the males, which fight, as do those of the domestic species, by butting with the head. An old ram is a match for almost any dog. It has been suggested that a dog which had developed the bad habit of worrying sheep should be shut up in a ioose box with a sturdy ram, and that a few days of such confinement would probably cure him of any taste for mutton. No doubt the plan would answer except in the case of a bulldog, which would pin the ram by the nose and so prevent its butting. The Common Sheep (0. aries) was probably the first animal domesticated by pastoral man, and its origin is as obscure as that of the dog. We find it mentioned, however, in the oldest literature that has oome down to us; and the story of Cain and Abel - the tiller of the ground and the keeper of sheep - deals with an early stage of human culture. The sheep has been introduced from Europe into America and Austra1ia, and is now found wherever farming is carried on, though it attains its best development of flesh and fleece in the temperate regions of both hemispheres. In the wild sheep there is a short underwool beneath the straight hairy coat; though this generally is as rough on the surface as the wool itself and consequently felts. In the domestic sheep the outer clothing of hair is lost, and the underclothing of wool greatly developed. This is shorn yearly, generally in early summer, though the operation may be deferred till the middle of July, and in the autumn "dips" are applied to keep the sheep from parasites and promote the growth of the wool. Sheep, like other domestic ammals, have varied greatly. In the Highland and smaller Welsh Black-faced sheep both sexes bear horns, as do the Dorset sheep, though in the last-named breed the horns are small. In the Merinos, noted for their fleece, only the rams are horned. Most of the English breeds are hornless. In the Iceland sheep as many as eight horns are sometimes developed. An Asian breed, found also in Africa, has the tail greatly enlarged by fat, so that it often weighs from 70 to 80 lbs., and is supported by a kind of sledge; while in a Tartar breed the tendency to lay on fat is confined to the rump. The economic value of sheep is very great; their flesh serves for food; their fleeces are made into clothing; their skin into leather for bookbinding and gloves; cheese (eg. the well-known "Roquefort") is manufactured in some countries from ewe-milk; the fat is melted into tallow; from the intestines "catgut" is made; and horns, hoofs, and bones are also turned to some account.