What’s the Difference Between Lambs and Sheep
Some people use lamb and sheep interchangeably to identify the animal, but they aren’t exactly the same thing. Learn some of the differences between the two.
Some people use lamb and sheep interchangeably to identify the animal, but they aren’t exactly the same thing. So, what’s the difference between them? Yes, lambs are baby sheep -- that’s the main distinction. But here are some other differences between the two:
Lambs are less than 12 months old. Adult sheep are 12 months and older. Adult females are called ewes. Adult males are called rams.
Lambs typically weigh between 8 and 12 pounds. Adult sheep weigh 200 pounds or more and stand between 2 and 4 feet tall.
Lamb wool is soft and fine with a luxurious feel and lustrous shine. Sheep wool is coarser and denser but still soft to the touch. Tropical or hair sheep have no wool but are the same species (Ovis aries).
Lambs are born toothless. They develop small teeth, called milk teeth, that are comfortable for nursing mother sheep. Weaning begins between 10 weeks and 3 months, and the milk teeth fall out. By age 1, sheep have two large teeth. They develop a full set of eight adult teeth between 3 and 4 years old.
Lambs and sheep are both friendly. Lambs are more docile, which combined with their small size, makes them easier to handle, especially for animal showmanship. Adult sheep are social and move around in flocks.
Lambs drink only milk until they are weaned. Adult sheep are herbivores, with diets made up of grasses, hay, grains, or commercial concentrates.
Lambs don’t have horns, and most domesticated sheep don’t have horns. Wild sheep begin to grow horns at 1 year old when visible knobs appear above their ears. These horns continue to grow until they are around 8 years old. In some breeds, both male and female sheep have horns.
Lamb meat is tender and mild in flavor. Sheep meat, often referred to as mutton, is tougher and features a stronger gamey and earthy flavor.
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