Recent years have seen dramatic changes in the American wool industry. Sheep’s wool, while still the most prominently used, has been joined by llama, alpaca, goat, and even rabbit wool in terms of popularity. Organic wool has also experienced a marked increase in demand. The United States is the third largest producer of wool in the world with about a fifth of the total production annually.
Wool is often seen as superior to petroleum-based synthetic fibers and there has been a large movement toward having (more…)
A fuzzy barnyard favourite, sheep have been featured in popular books through the ages. Possibly most significantly, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White includes a pair of sheep – a lamb and its much older counterpart – as two of the characters that Wilbur, the porcine lead, speaks to most frequently. Similarly, in Dick King-Smith’s The Sheep Pig, more widely known for its movie adaptation, Babe, the main character interacts frequently with sheep despite being a pig. In King-Smith’s novel, though, the pig is actually trained by a stock dog to herd (more…)
If you’re new to sheep-raising and have a limited amount of pasture available, you might be tempted to start with just one sheep. Perhaps you want to spin wool but can’t imagine spinning more than a sheep’s worth, or maybe the idea of a single sheep “pet” is more appealing than a whole flock.
It is a mistake, however, to think of sheep in terms of singles or individuals. Sheep are flock animals, which means not only that they prefer company–although they certainly (more…)
When you think of home security, you think of sites like www.quortek.com and video cameras and motion sensors and alarms, right? You don’t think of sheep – cuddly fluffy sheep – when you hear the words “home security.” However, it might surprise you to know that some countries actually look to these wooly friends for peace of mind and it’s for more than just counting.
For all their faults, sheep have exceptional hearing as well as a stubborn sense of place. They know the way things should be and even the slightest disturbance or change – say, a person standing somewhere they’re not supposed to be – will set them off. Ever hear over a hundred sheep naying and braying at once? It’s cacophonic and can wake up even the most sound sleeper.
Some sheep, especially the kind with newborn lambs, can be extremely territorial too and despite the notion that they are in constant danger and need a shepherd, sheep have been known to defend themselves. Some sheep have even worked as a team to ram into and chase off trespassers looking to steal a few from the flock.
A lot of this behavior, however, has to do with the breed. Not all sheep are this proactive.
Sheepdogs are animals we often see herding sheep, though some are not put to work. Those that are display an uncanny cleverness. They are able to perform a job that a human would perform otherwise and they do it well. How do they learn to keep sheep grouped together and/or move them and how do they react so well to brief, simple human commands?
Sheepdogs are bred to herd livestock. What the dogs are displaying is effective hunting behavior without the (more…)
The history of the American West would not be complete without a discussion of the great Range Wars involving cattle ranchers who attempted to prevent sheepherders from sharing the land. By the time sheepherders began to move across the western United States beginning around 1870, cattle ranchers had already established a huge presence and a flourishing beef trade. The cowboys had no wish to share the range, and fought aggressively to keep the sheep out.
Part of the issue really did hinge on land rights. A rancher (more…)
At one time, sheep were considered to be farm animals. Today, many people are keeping sheep as family pets or companion animals. Certain breeds of sheep, especially miniature sheep, make excellent family pets.
Believe it or not, sheep are very social and loving. In addition, they respond very well to commands and can be trained. If you would like to keep a sheep as a pet, there are some things that you may want to consider.
Ewes and neutered males make the best pets.
The most friendly pet sheep are those that are raised as (more…)
When people think of animals that helped shape the American west, they generally imagine sturdy cow ponies, long-horned cattle and faithful dogs. Sheep rarely enter in anyone’s mind picture when thinking about animals that settlers introduced to the area west of the Rocky Mountains. However, sheep were an important part of the lives of many families and individuals who set down roots in the untamed regions of the western half of the United States. Sheep ranching was lucrative and (more…)
Cuddly dogs and sarcastic cats often appear on the big screen, but sometimes other animals gain the spotlight. Fans of sheep will enjoy a few movies where these baaing stars are heroes, villains and everything in between.
The charming lead in “Babe” is a pig who wants to be a sheepdog, but the pig and his owner could succeed without the help of sheep. “Babe” questions conventions by turning a pig into a loyal family member instead of supper and (more…)