You might not give much thought to sheep, probably only when you’re wearing wool or driving past them in their fields. Lambs are very cute, yes, with their furry little faces, super soft fleece and sweet bleats. There so sweet they make an ideal gift for animal lovers. We don’t mean an actual live sheep, but maybe a Sculptures from Gill Parker who creates Animal Sculptures and would discuss your needs and personalise one just for you. However, there is a secret life of sheep and they harbour some fascinating facts! Here are some unusual things you might not know about sheep:
- A sheep’s wool would grow forever
There was an infamous sheep from New Zealand back in 2004 who hid in a cave for six years to avoid being sheared. When he was finally caught and given his overdue haircut, there was enough wool to make 20 men’s suits! In neighbouring Australia, one sheep called Chris provided a whopping 89 pounds of wool! Wild sheep will shed naturally but domestic breeds will have wool that just keeps on growing. Just one pound of wool can make 10 miles of yarn.
- Sheep have almost 360 vision
Unusually, sheep have rectangular pupils which provides them with incredible peripheral vision. This is crucial when you’re prey to numerous other animals and need strong surround vision for protection. Their field of vision is 270 to 320 degrees whereas an average human only has 155 degrees. At least that would have aided the shepherd in his task of keeping an entire flock safe from harm.
- The upper lip of a sheep has a groove separating right and left called a philtrum
It’s not true that sheep will eat anything that grows. They are actually very selective eaters and far prefer grass blades and leaves over stems. The pronounced groove in their upper lip helps them to get closer to the ground which gives them access to the choicest bits they seek. This is a significant advantage for sheep who can get far lower than other ruminants.
- A sheep on its back can’t get up
Those who are overweight, heavily pregnant or carrying around a big load of heavy fleece struggle greatly in getting themselves up if they somehow fall and land on their backs. Such sheep are known as cast sheep. If you ever see a sheep in this predicament, they are likely very stressed and scared. Find a farmer and help to roll them back over.
- There are historical ties between sheep and U.S Presidents
U.S Presidents love their sheep! Presidents who enjoyed raising sheep include George Washington, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. At the swearing in ceremony of James Madison, he wore a coat made from wool from his own sheep. A flock of sheep lived on the grass of the White House during World War One to keep the grass neat and trimmed as a cost-cutting exercise to support the war effort.