Hello humans! It’s ME!! CHRISTOPHER!!! And in addition to my duties as Flock Spokes-sheep on Facebook, I am now allowed to talk to you all on our very own website!! Facebook friends will know who I am, but for those who don’t, I shall explain. But to do this, you will have to learn some shepherding language! If you are going to follow us, though, this might be useful to you. So, starting off with who I am. I am a four-tooth Cotswold cross Lleyn wether – that means I have four adult teeth in the front of my mouth, my dad is a Cotswold sheep and my mum is a Lleyn sheep, and I am a castrated male (a wether). Phew! It’s such a lot of different things to be!
Some other terms you might hear: a ram is an adult male sheep, an uncastrated one. A lot of people might call him a tup, too. A ewe is an adult female sheep. In northern England, she might be referred to as a yow. A lamb is a sheep, male or female, under a year old – we have ram lambs, wether lambs, and ewe lambs. A hogg or hogget is between one and two years old – so is a shearling. Then there are terms we don’t use in Wiltshire all that much. A gimmer is a ewe who hasn’t had a lamb yet. A teg is a young ewe.
As for the teeth, sheep have eight teeth in the lower jaw at the front (we don’t have upper teeth at the front at all). Every year from 1-4 years old, we shed a pair of teeth and grow an adult pair. I am 2 years old, so I have FOUR adult teeth. When sheep get very very old, they start to lose their teeth, and are described as BROKEN MOUTHED. Luckily for us, at our farm, the grass is so rich and soft that even sheep with no teeth at all can eat perfectly well; so all our old ladies and gentlemen are fat and glossy.
So being a sheep is very complicated, and there are many different types of sheep – I haven’t even gone into the different breeds of sheep that there are (and in Britain, there are over 60!) That’ll be for another time.