Sheep have 32 permanent teeth. Within two months of birth, sheep have 8 temporary teeth that are then replaced by permanent incisors that appear in pairs. Eventually, a fully mature sheep will have 32 teeth in total, which includes the 8 permanent incisors that have replaced the temporary teeth, along with 24 molars.
Sheep do not have teeth on their upper jaw. This area consists of a dense, hard, fibrous pad instead. But sheep do have teeth in their lower front jaw.
What Type of Teeth Do Sheep Have?
Sheep have teeth that are divided into two distinct sections. In the lower front jaw, there are eight permanent incisors. On each side of the upper and lower jaw, there are twenty-four molars that are divided into six.
A sheep’s incisors are what is known as a hypsodont tooth, which means that it has a long crown that continues to erupt from the gum after cutting, providing extra material for wear and tear.
How to Tell the Age of Sheep By Their Teeth
Looking at a sheep’s teeth will only give you a rough estimate of its age, but it can still provide a useful indication and is commonly used. You just need to keep in mind that when estimating the age of a sheep, whether the breed is early or late maturing is one of the most important factors to consider.
Other factors like the number, condition, and order of eruption of the permanent incisors are other key indicators that indicate age. Strain, environment, and nutrition can all affect the eruption of the permanent incisors.
Sheep Teeth Age Chart
When born, a lamb usually has no teeth. But as soon as a week after birth, milk teeth or temporary teeth start to appear in the front lower jaw. Within two months, 8 teeth in total erupt.
Permanent incisors then replace these temporary teeth. They appear in pairs, starting with the two central teeth, followed by one on either side at intervals. This occurs until all temporary teeth have been replaced.
- Birth-12 months (Lamb): 8 milk teeth
- 12-19 months (Two-tooth): 2 central incisors, 6 milk teeth
- 18-24 months (Four-tooth): 2 central incisors, 2 middle incisors, 4 milk teeth
- 23-36 months (Six-tooth): 2 central incisors, 2 middle incisors, 2 lateral incisors, 2 milk teeth
- 28-48 months (Eight-tooth): 2 central incisors, 2 middle incisors, 2 lateral incisors, 2 corner incisors
Sheep Teeth Facts
An interesting fact about sheeps’ teeth is that when their teeth are growing, sheep are referred to by the number of permanent incisors they have. So at 12-19 months, a sheep is referred to as two-tooth, or at 23-26 months, a sheep is referred as six-tooth.
Another interesting fact about sheep teeth is that the condition of their teeth can vary depending on the type of feed and where they graze. For example, on long, soft feed, the teeth do not experience much wear and will remain in good condition. On short feed, on the other hand, where close grazing is necessary, the teeth will wear down. This becomes even more true if the soil is sandy or gravelly.