Information about: Sheep

Index | Sheep

Note: Information is dated. Do not rely on it.

Sheep. The common name of the genus Ovis, belonging to the hollow-horned ruminant family. Naturalists are by no means agreed as to what was the original breed of this invaluable animal, which is in modern farming almost equally important for furnishing the farm with a dressing of manure, and the community at large with mutton, clothing, and other necessaries of life. The breeds of sheep are grouped as short-wooled, medium-wooled, and long-wooled. The Spanish Merinos are typical of the first class, the Southdown and Shropshire of the second, and the Leicester and Cotswold of the last. Wild sheep are found in both Asia and North America and are easily recognized from the fact that they are the only wild animals having circling horns. Central Asian species are the Argalia, Marco Polo's sheep, and the Siar sheep. In America six species are known, the most famous being the Bighorn, or Rocky Mountain shcep. In color it is gray-brown, with a large whitish patch near the tail. The horns of a full grown specimen have a length of forty inches and a spread of seventeen inches. The height of the shoulders is about forty inches, and its length, including tail, about five feet. They inhabit the wildest and most inaccessible parts of the Rocky Mountain system, and are larger than the largest varieties of domestic breeds. The horns of the male are of great dimensions, arising a short way above the eyes, and occupying almost the entire space between the ears, but without touching each other at their bases. The hair in this species resembles that of a deer, and is short, dry, and flexible in its autumn growth, but becomes coarse, dry, and brittle as the winter advances.