The name “sheep” applies to many species, but it almost always refers to Ovis aries. Numbering a little over 1 billion, domestic sheep are the most numerous species in their genus.

Sheep are most likely descended from the wild mouflon of Europe and Asia. One of the earliest animals to be domesticated for agricultural purposes, sheep are raised for fleece, meat (lamb, hogget or mutton) and milk.

A sheep’s wool is the most widely used animal fiber, and is usually harvested by shearing.Ovine meat is called lamb when from younger animals and mutton when from older ones.

Sheep continue to be important for wool and meat today, and are also occasionally raised for pelts, as dairy animals, or as model organisms for science.

Sheep husbandry is practised throughout the majority of the inhabited world, and has been fundamental to many civilizations. In the modern era, Australia, New Zealand, the southern and central South American nations, and the British Isles are most closely associated with sheep production.


The following articles have been sourced as quality information on Sheep. To make the information easier to find, we have grouped the articles into subject groups. To examine these articles, please click on the associated Links.

Sheep business planning

Wool production

Lamb & sheepmeat production

Sheep pastures

Sheep genetics

Sheep animal health

Sheep management