Encyclopedia > Sheep

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Scientific classification
Binomial name
Ovis aries

A sheep is any of several wooly ruminant quadrupeds, but most commonly the Domestic Sheep, Ovis aries, which is thought to be descended from the wild Urial[?] of south-central and south-west Asia. For other types of sheep and their close relatives, see goat antelope.

Female sheep are called ewes, males are called rams, yearlings are called hoggetts[?], and younger sheep are called lambs. There are many breeds of sheep. The Finnish Landrace[?] sheep is known for multiple births.

For centuries, sheep have represented in many cultures, especially in the Mediterranean area, the most common alternative to agriculture, being the most frequent object of breeding[?]. A wide symbology regards them in ancient art, traditions and culture, and the same Roman Catholic Church uses sheep-related metaphors, like for the bishop's Pastoral.

Sheep breeding has been a relevant activity in ancient economies, given that this animal can give milk (and all the derivative products, first of all cheese), wool and meat. In some places, like Sardinia, sheep-breeding has become the principal and characteristic activity. Even now, including reproduction gains, sheep are able to yearly render up to the 400% of their cost.

The sheep (or goat) is one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. It is thought that each animal is associated with certain personality traits.

Sheep meat prepared as food is commonly known as mutton. The meat of immature sheep, also termed lamb, is generally regarded as tenderer and is more widely eaten in western countries. Mutton is more flavorful but often tougher and fattier.

See also: Dolly the sheep

External Links

A Christian rock band of the early 1960s Jesus Movement in Europe, singing in English and Finnish.

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