10 Surprising Facts About Sheep

With lambing season right about to start, we figured it was appropriate to present some fun and surprising facts about sheep. Hope you enjoy!

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a sheep?

Despite a recent decline in domestic sheep production within the US. The US still imports around 40% of its lamb and mutton from abroad. Most of the 162 million pounds of imported meat actually comes from down under! That’s right, most of our meat is imported from Australia and New Zealand, the two largest lamb and mutton exporters in the world.

Oh give me a home! Where the sheep and lamb roam!

In the U.S the states with the highest number of sheep per capita are Texas, Wyoming, and California. However, more than two-thirds of domestic sheep call the Southern Plains, the Mountain and Pacific regions their homes.

Where’s the mutton?

Did you know that lamb is the least amount of meat consumed in the US? The average American consumes 86 pounds of chicken, 65 pounds of beef, 50 pounds of pork, and only 1 pound of lamb per year. I guess why the saying is “where’s the beef?” and not “where’s the mutton?”

Like A Steel Trap

Sheep have amazingly good memories. They can remember at least 50 different people and other sheep. They’re able to do this using a similar neural process and part of the brain that humans use to remember people.

I’m not as dumb as I look

Contrary to popular belief, sheep are actually extremely intelligent for their species. They’re capable of problem solving and have a similar IQ level to cattle, and are nearly as clever as pigs. Looks can be deceiving, a farm is a smarter place than most people realize.

More sheep than people

Currently, there are approximately 34.2 million sheep on New Zealand. That’s enough to outnumber the humans living there seven to one! That’s quite the population, good thing sheep aren’t predators. However, back in the 80′s, this figure was even higher, with sheep outnumbering people 22 to 1! That’s a lot of sheep.

Top-notch vision

Sheep have amazing peripheral vision. Their large, rectangular pupils allow them to see in almost perfect 360 degree vision. They can even see behind themselves without even turning their heads. At least they never have to wonder if they have something on their back.

Spanish Sheep

In the 15th century, Spanish Merino wool was so highly prized, that the wool trade is what funded the conquistador expeditions, including Christopher Columbus’ expedition to the new world. Because this wool was so highly prized, exporting Merino sheep from Spain was punishable by death.

A Bond Between a Ewe and a Lamb

Female sheep, known as ewes (pronounced You-s) are very caring mothers and form deep bonds with their offspring. A ewe can recognize her lamb’s bleats when they wander too far away from the herd.

A gourmand’s best friend

Mutton and lamb is widely eaten around the world and is often used in gourmet dishes because of the delicateness of its taste. Additionally, sheep’s milk is widely used in gourmet cheeses (such as feta and romano).

 

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