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Sheep

Sheep have very good memories. They can remember at least 50 individual sheep and humans for years.

Sheep's

Facts about sheep

  • Sheep have very good memories. They can remember at least 50 individual sheep and humans for years. They do this by using a similar neural process and part of the brain that humans use to remember.
  • Sheep have ben shown to display emotions, some of which can be studied by observing the position of their ears.
  • Contrary to popular misconception, sheep are extremely intelligent animals capable of problem solving. They are considered to have a similar IQ level to cattle and are nearly as clever as pigs.
  • Like various other species including humans, sheep make different vocalisations to communicate different emotions. They also display and recognise emotion by facial expressions.
  • Sheep are known to self-medicate when they have some illnesses. They will eat specific plants when ill that can cure them.
  • Sheep are precocial (highly independent from birth) and gregarious (like to be in a group).
  • Female sheep (ewes) are very caring mothers and form deep bonds with their lambs that can recognise them by their call (bleat) when they wander too far away.
  • Wild sheep tend to be larger than domesticated species, the largest (Argali) being 1.2m tall. They also have longer horns which they use to defend themselves from predators.
  • Egyptians believed that sheep were sacred. They even had them mummified when they died, just like humans.
  • The ancient Sumerians (4000 – 2000 BCE), who are thought to have developed the first form of writing (Cuneiform script), immortalised sheep in the form of gods in their religion.
  • Sheep are one of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. Sheep are seen to represent righteousness, sincerity, gentleness, and compassion.
  • The meat of sheep is widely eaten by people across the world. Sheep milk is also drunk and used to make other products such as cheese. Many people who consume animal products would like to choose products from animals kept in higher welfare systems. However welfare labelling on products can be confusing. Find out more about OneKind's campaign for Better Food Labelling.
  • Sheep are used in experiments in the UK. Find out more about OneKind's Let's not turn back the clock on cruelty campaign to ensure welfare standards in the UK are not lowered.

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Quick Facts

  • Type: Mammal
  • Diet: Herbivore
  • Life span: 5-10 years
  • Size: 90-140 cm
  • Weight: 40-130 kg
  • Habitat: Grass plains and mountains
  • Range: Originated from Europe and Asia, domesticated breeds now common in the Americas and Australasia
  • Scientific name: Ovis Aries
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