Did you know . . . amazing facts about sheep!

Did you know…

…that their wool never stops growing? In 2004 a Merino sheep named Shrek became famous because he managed to evade shearing for 6 years by hiding in caves. When he was found he was unrecognizable under 27 kg of fleece. His fleece contained enough wool to make suits for 20 grown men. He was sheared on New Zealand’s national television and made many charity appearances. He even got to meet the Prime Minister of New Zealand at the time.

…that they have an estimated field of vision between 270 and 320 degrees? They have their rectangular pupils to thank for that. And it really does come in handy because they are the prey of many creatures.

…that sheep are actually quite smart? Contrary to popular belief, sheep are smart and intelligent animals. They are capable of problem-solving and many scientists are placing them on a similar IQ level as cattle and on a nearly similar level as pigs. Find out more here.

…that some sheep can live for over 20 years? The life expectancy of a domestic sheep on normal pasture is 10 to 12 years. Sheep with exceptionally good care can live up to 15 years, but it mostly depends on the sheep breed. However, there are many documented examples of sheep living for over 20 years. Find out more here.

…that sheep can make friends? They can remember at least 50 individual sheep (and humans) for years and are also able to display emotions (fear, joy, boredom, anger, and happiness to name just a few). They are friendly and can form very strong bonds with other animals (not just other sheep, but even goats and humans). Not only do they form bonds but they stick up for each other in fights and they grieve upon losing a friend. They can communicate their emotions with different vocalizations and even display and recognize emotion through facial expressions.

…that sheep are excellent mothers? Sheep mothers form deep bonds with their baby lambs. They explore the pasture together, eat together, and even cuddle up together. They recognize their little lambs by their unique scent and they can recognize their call (bleat) if they wander too far away from them.

…that sheep can self-medicate? If they’re not feeling well they seek out plants that make them feel better. They eat specific plants that can cure them. This behavior is called Zoopharmacognosy. It is described as a behavior where non-human animals ingest or apply plants, soils, or insects to self-medicate whether as a preventative or therapeutic measure.