Many people are unable to distinguish the difference between lamb and sheep. Many in fact, even think that these two are different kinds of animals.
Understanding the difference between lamb and sheep should not be too confusing. Sheep are ovis aries species. The term sheep is just the generic name for the species. There are, however, different categories of sheep, and one of them is the lamb. Hence a lamb is a sheep.
The Different Categories of Sheep
As mentioned, sheep are divided into several categories. A lamb is a young sheep that has not reached the age of one. Rams are male sheep that are more than a year old and un-castrated. On the other hand, female sheep that are more than one year old are called Ewes. Castrated male sheep that are old are referred to as wethers.
Despite the categories of sheep, they share some common traits among them. For one, they all are herbivores. Sheep love eating legumes and grasses. Lambs, however, do not have the incisors that the older sheep have. This is why lambs cannot survive alone on eating greens. They have to have their mother’s milk for food in order to survive.
Sheep in general also thrive on being together. They are often found huddled together, sometimes following a leader. It’s probably easy to see which is the group leader, as the whole flock follows their leader wherever it goes. Sheep even become weak if they are left on their own as they are social animals that love interaction.
Why Know the Difference Between Lamb and Sheep?
Many people ask why there is a need to know the different categories of sheep. Well, for one, knowing the category of a sheep is important for commercial purposes. This is especially true for sheep breeders who want to make high profits from raising sheep.
Lambs are much-preferred food compared to other categories of sheep. In fact, in the meat trade, lambs sell much more than other sheep meat. This is probably because lamb meat is more tender, unlike older sheep meat or more commonly known as mutton, which is harder.
Lamb-lovers would actually know the difference between lamb and sheep meat as the difference in texture can be discerned easily.
In many countries, the meat of the lamb is the most desirable and most expensive among sheep meat. Many countries also only sell the mutton legs or chops.
Other Commercial Purposes of Sheep
However, it is not safe to say that there are no other practical uses for older sheep. One of the main difference between lamb and sheep is that sheep’s coat can be used for garment manufacturing. Jackets and coats made of sheep wool are very popular, and fetch high prices in the market.
Aside from their meat and coats, sheep also provide good milk. So, a sheep farmer can either sell the lamb, the coats for the garment, or the milk.