Sheep provide meat, milk and from their wool, clothing.
Sheep are classed by their age. The classifications aren’t universal, though, and can vary by country.
|America||Under 12 months||12 to 24 months, called “yearlings”|
|Australia||Under 12 months, no incisors at all; if male, castrated.|
|France||Less than 14 months||Over 14 months|
|New Zealand||Under 12 months; no incisor teeth in wear; male or female||No more than 2 incisor teeth in wear; if female, still unbred.||3 or more incisor teeth in wear; male or female.|
|UK||10 to 42 weeks old.||Slaughtered at 40 to 50 weeks old, before any permanent incisor teeth have erupted.||Over 2 years old; 4 adult teeth.|
Some breeds of sheep:
- Merino — around 75% of all sheep in Australia are Merino sheep (as of 2006.)
- Suffolk Sheep — has a bare, black face, legs also black. Male doesn’t develop horns. Most common breed of sheep in America
- Romney Marsh — raised in Sussex and Kent, England.
See: Lamb, mutton, sheep’s milk cheeses.
Sheep in the Middle Ages were only half the size that they are now. One sheep could have provided no more than 25 to 30 kg (55 to 65 pounds) of meat.
Sheep were first brought to North America by the Spanish in 1519.
Attempted mass introduction into the American west caused feuds with cattle herders.
The Cotswold breed of sheep was introduced into England by the Romans, and into America in 1832. The first purebred line of sheep to be registered in America were Cotswold.
During the Second World War, everyone ate sheep in the form of mutton: at the front and on the home front. By mutual agreement, everyone swore off it when the war ended.
In Wales, mutton ham would be made from a sheep’s hind leg.
Ovella: Catalan for “sheep.”
Dag: Australian word for the wool around the sheep’s rear end, which is too stained to be used as wool. In Australia, considered a somewhat derogatory term to call someone, meaning somewhat “useless”.
Jean-Louis Flandrin & Massimo Montanari, Eds. Food: A Culinary History. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999, page 170.