Department of Education

Animal Ethics

Animal Ethics

Sheep


Varietal range difference

Breeds commonly used in Australia can be divided into the following categories:

  • Fine wools, including Merino and Merino Comeback;
  • Short wools, including Dorset, Ryeland and Suffolk;
  • Long wools, including Border Leicester and Lincoln;
  • Dual-purpose breeds, including Corriedale and Polwarth; and

Carpet wools, including Drysdale and Tukidale Woolless, e.g. the Wiltshire Horn, which sheds its fleece.

Schools and colleges that wish to maintain a sheep enterprise should restrict their choice to plain-bodied sheep, such as the dual-purpose breeds and first-cross ewes. They provide wool production but are less prone to fly strike.

Physical characteristics

Size at the shoulder, 600mm - 950mm, depending on breed
Weight 35kg - 90kg, but can be up to 150kg
Age at adult size approximately 2 years
Average life span 8-13 years
Weight at birth 2.5kg - 5kg on average; depends on age of ewe, feeding regimen, breed and whether birth is single or multiple
Gestation period 144-151 days
Number of offspring normally single; twinning does occur (in some breeds more commonly than others)
Weaning age approximately 5 months
Range of breeding ages puberty varies from 8-12 months; most ewes are mated from 18 months
Body temperature 39°C (=/- 0.5°C)
Heart rate 75 beats/minute (range 50-80)
Respiration rate 15-40 breaths/minute
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Sheep
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