Lamb and sheep are two terms that we often come across when it comes to animals that are commonly raised for meat, wool and milk production. However, not many of us know the difference between the two. While they are both similar in many ways such as appearance and diet, there are some differences that distinguish one from the other.
What is a lamb?
Lambs are young sheep that are less than one year old. In general, lambs are raised for their meat, which tastes tender, juicy and mild in flavour. They are born after a gestation period of 145-155 days and weigh about six to twelve pounds when they are born. Lambs continue to nurse from their mothers for a few months before they are weaned and begin to eat grass. Depending on the breed, lambs can be ready for slaughter at four to twelve months old.
What is a sheep?
Sheep, on the other hand, are adult animals that are over one year old. They are raised for both meat and wool production and are commonly used in various agricultural practices such as grazing, land management and weed control. Sheep are social animals that form small herds and are known for their calm and docile nature.
Differences between lamb and sheep
Appearance: The most noticeable difference between a lamb and a sheep is in their physical appearance. Lambs are smaller in size, and their meat is tender and mild in flavor. Sheep, on the other hand, are larger and more muscular, and their meat has a stronger flavor.
Age: The age difference is a crucial aspect when it comes to lamb and sheep. A lamb is a sheep that is less than one year old and has not yet reached maturity. A sheep is a mature animal that is over one year old, and in most cases, has already had lambs. By the time sheep reach three years of age, their meat becomes tougher and is referred to as mutton, which is less commonly consumed.
Meat: As mentioned earlier, lambs have tender and mild-flavored meat that is preferred by many people. The meat of sheep, on the other hand, is more muscular and has a stronger taste, which not everyone enjoys.
Breeds: Another difference between lamb and sheep is in the breeds. There are specific breeds that are designated for meat production, while others are ideal for wool production. Lamb breeds include the Dorset, Hampshire and Suffolk, while sheep breeds include the Merino, Lincoln and Corriedale.
Uses: The uses of lamb and sheep also differ. Lambs are raised primarily for their meat, while sheep are raised for both meat and wool production. Sheep wool is used to make various products such as clothing, blankets, and carpets and has been used for centuries.
Diet: The diet of lambs and sheep is another aspect in which they differ. Lambs primarily consume milk from their mother and can later transition to consuming grass and other plants. Sheep, on the other hand, consume a diet primarily made up of grass, though they may also eat hay and grain.
In conclusion, the primary difference between lamb and sheep is their age and the intended use; lambs are younger and raised primarily for meat production, while sheep are used for both meat and wool production. Other differences between the two include appearance, breed, meat, diet, and uses. Understanding the differences between them can help you make informed choices when it comes to the type of meat you prefer.