Glossary of Sheep Terms
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Abattoir -a facility where farm animals are harvested and processed
into meat products.
Abomasum - the fourth compartment of the stomach of a ruminant;
the one where digestion takes place.
Abortion - premature loss of a pregnancy.
Accelerated lambing - when a ewe lambs more often than once a
ADF - acid detergent fiber
AFO - Agricultural operations where livestock are kept and raised
in confined situations. Some states regulate AFOs.
Afterbirth - the placenta and fetal membranes that are expelled
from the uterus after the lambs are born.
Amino acid - one of the building blocks of protein.
Anemia - a lower than normal number of red blood cells.
Animal unit (AU) - a unit represented by one mature cow or horse, or
by as many animals as consume an equivalent amount of feed, such
as 7 sheep.
Animal unit month (AUM) - The quantity of forage required by one
mature cow and her calf (or the equivalent, in sheep or horses,
for instance) for one month.
Annual plant - a plant that usually germinates, flowers and dies
in one year.
Anthelmintic - a medicine which kills certain types of intestinal
Antibiotic - a drug that kills bacteria and other germs.
Antibodies - proteins produced by the immune system to fight specific
bacteria, viruses, or other antigens.
Anti-toxin - an antibody that can neutralize a specific toxin.
Artificial Insemination (AI) - process whereby semen is placed
within a female's uterus by artificial means i.e. other than sexual
ASI - American Sheep Industry Association. Federation of state
Banding - the process of applying rubber bands to the tail or
scrotum for docking and castrating.
Bellwether - sheep that leads the herd often wearing a bell .
Bloat - excessive accumulation of gases in the rumen of an animal.
Bottle jaw - Edema or fluid accumulation, under the jaw. A sign
of infection with Haemonchosis in sheep.
Breech birth - a birth in which the lamb is presented backwards
with its rear legs tucked under and only its tail near the opening.
Browse - parts of woody plants, including twigs, shoots, and leaves.
Buck - slang term for a male sheep.
Bummer - slang term for an orphan lamb.
Burdizzo - castration method that uses a large clamp to crush
the blood vessels leading into the testicles.
CAFO - cconfined animal feeding operation having at least 1,000
animal units. Governed by federal and state laws.
Carding -process involving the movement of natural fibres between
two surfaces covered with wire pins in order to detangle and align
the fibres in preparation for spinning.
Castrate - removal of testicles or influence of testicles.
cc - cubic centimeter. Same as a millileter (ml).
Cellulose - component of plant cell walls that is not digestible
by most animals (lignin)
Cervix - the lower section of the uterus which protrudes into
the vagina and dilates during labor to allow the passage of the
Cryptorchidism - failure of one or both testes to descend
Coccidiostat - any of a group of chemical agents mixed in feed
or drinking water to control coccidiosis in animals.
Colostrum - first milk a ewe gives after birth. High in antibodies,
this milk protects newborn lambs against diseases.
Composting - process whereby organic wastes decompose naturally.
Combing - the straightening or parallelizing of fibers using combs.
Also includes the removal of short fibers and other impurities.
Concentrate - feed that is high in energy, low in fiber content,
and highly digestible.
Conception - in reproduction, the point at which a sperm fertilizes
Continuous grazing - livestock remain on a grazing unit the entire
time in which grazing is allowed.
Cool season plant - a plant that generally makes most of its growth
during the late fall, winter, and spring.
Corpus Luteum - the mass of cells that form once the egg has been
released from the ovary. The corpus luteum produces progesterone.
Also called "yellow body."
Cost share - a subsidization, by different governmental agencies
and some private industries.
Crimp - the natural waviness of the wool fiber.
Culling - the process that determines which animals in a herd
will not be bred.
Creep feeding - to provide supplemental feed to nursing lambs.
Creep grazing - the practice of allowing young animals to graze
areas their dams cannot access at the same time.
Crossbreeding - the mating of animals of different breeds.
Crutching - the removal of wool from around the tail and between
the rear legs of a sheep.
Cud - food of a ruminant regurgitated to be chewed again.
Dags - wool contaminated with feces, which is either adhering
to or has been clipped from the posterior of sheep.
Dam - mother.
DE - digestible energy
Diarrhea - increased frequency, fluidity, or volume of fecal
Dock - to remove the tail (v) or the shortened tail of a sheep
Drench - a method of giving liquid medicine.
Dressing percentage - the percentage of the live animal that
ends up as carcass.
Dystocia - difficulty in giving birth or being born.
Eid - annual Islamic festival. There are two major Eids in the
Elastrator - instrument used to apply heavy rubber bands (elastrator
rings/bands) to the tail and scrotum for docking and castration.
Embryo - an animal in the early stage of development before
Embryo Transfer - implantation of embryos or fertilized eggs
into a surrogate mother.
EPD (expected progeny difference) - the expected difference
between the performance of an animal's progeny and the average
progeny performance of all the animals in the breed.
Epididymitis - tiny tube where sperm collect after leaving the
Estrogen - female sex hormone produced by the ovary. Responsible
for the estrus cycle.
Estrus - the period when the female is fertile and receptive
to the male. Also called heat.
Estrus Cycle - the reproductive cycle of the female.
Ewe - female sheep
Extra label - use of a drug in a manner for which it was not
FAMACHA© - a parasite control regime for controlling and
treating Haemonchus contoritus in small ruminants. Uses an eye
Fat-soluble vitamins - vitamins that dissolve in liquid fat
or fatty oils, in addition to water. They include Vitamin A,
D, E and K. They are manufactured in the rumen.
Fatten - feed for slaughter. Make fleshy or plump.
Fecal egg count (FEC) - number of worm eggs in a gram of feces.
Also called EPG (eggs per gram).
Feedlot - an area where lambs are confined and fed carefully
mixed, high-concentrate feed to fatten them.
Fertilizer - any one of a large number of natural and synthetic
materials, including manure and nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium
compounds, spread or worked into the soil to increase its fertility.
Fleece - the wool from a single sheep in the shorn grease state.
Flerd - a mixed group of sheep and cattle.
Fodder - crops grown for animal feed.
Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) - hormone produced by the
pituitary gland which stimulates the production of follicles
by the ovary.
Foot bath - chemical and water mixture that sheep stand in,
used for the prevention and/or treatment of foot rot and foot
Footrot - contagious disease of sheep caused by specific bacteria
Forage - grasses, small shrubs and other plant material that
can be used as feed for livestock. Edible parts of plants.
Forb - broadleafed herbaceous plant (e.g., dandelion).
Forward grazing - one group of animals is allowed access to
a paddock ahead of another group.
Genotype - the genetic constitution of an individual.
Gestation - the length of pregnancy.
Gimmer - female sheep over one year of age.
Grade - a measure of quality (n).
Graft - transfer a lamb to a ewe that is not its mother.
Grain - the seed part of cereal crops such as corn, oats, barley,
Grass - a group of plants having narrow leaves with parallel
veins, small flowers, and basically hollow stems with joints
where the leaves are attached.
Grass-based - pasture or grassland play a significant role in
the life or diet of the animal.
Green chop - freshly cut forage fed to livestock.
Ground water - water that does not run off, and is not taken
up by plants, but soaks down into an aquifer; a supply of fresh
water under the earths surface which forms a natural reservoir.
Is frequently used for drinking.
Gummer - a sheep so old that it has lost all of its teeth.
Haemonchosis - infestation with or disease caused by nematode
Haemonchus (esp. H. contortus)
Halal - a set of Islamic dietary laws which regulate the preparation
Hand spinner - a person who spins wool (twists fibers into yarn)
Hay - grass mowed and cured for use as fodder.
Haylage - grass silage
Heat - estrus. The period when the female is fertile and receptive
to the male.
Heavy use area - an outdoor area where livestock are primarily
sustained by imported feed.
Hectare - metric unit of area equal to 10,000 square meters,
or 2.471 acres
Heterosis - an increase in the performance of hybrids over that
of purebreds, most noticeably in traits such as fertility and
Heritability - the extent to which a trait is influenced by
our genetic makeup.
Hogget - a British term for a yearling sheep that has not yet
Hoop house - building with an arched metal frame and fabric
cover, used to house livestock.
Hormone -a substance that is made by one part of the body but
affects another part of the body.
Hull - the dry outer cover of a fruit, seed, or nut.
Hybrid vigor - an increase in the performance of hybrids over
that of purebreds, most noticeably in traits such as fertility
Hypothermia - a condition of characterized by low body temperature.
Immunity - a natural or acquired resistance to a specific disease.
Inbreeding - Mating or crossing of individuals more closely
related that average pairs in the population.
Intramuscular (IM) - into a muscle.
Intraperitoneal (IP) - administered or withdrawn from within
the abdominal cavity.
Intravenously (IV) - entering through a vein.
Islam - the religious faith of Muslims, literally, "submission"
Jug - a pen where a ewe and her newborn lambs are put to bond.
Jugular - vein in the neck that returns blood from the head.
Ked - wingless fly that is an external parasite on sheep.
Ketone - acidic substance produced when the body uses fat, instead
of sugar for energy.
Ketosis - metabolic disorder where ketones build up in the body.
Kosher - food prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary laws.
Lactation - the secretion (production) of milk. When the ewe
is giving milk.
Lamb - a young sheep (n). To give birth to a lamb (v). The meat
from an animal less than one year old (n).
Lanolin - wool "grease." Also called yolk.
Larvae - the immature form of many animals, which hatches from
the egg and often differs in appearance from the adult form.
Leader-follower grazing - two classes of livestock having distinctly
different nutritional needs are grazed successively in a pasture.
Legume - a plant whose roots form an association with soilborne
bacteria that can capture atmospheric nitrogen.
Libido - sexual desire.
Lignin - a component of the cell walls of plants that occurs
naturally, along with cellulose.
Linebreeding - the mating of individuals within a particular
Live vaccine - a vaccine in which live virus is weakened through
chemical or physical processes in order to produce an immune
response without causing the severe effects of the disease.
Lutenizing hormone (LH) - The hormone that normally triggers
ovulation and stimulates the corpus luteum to secrete progesterone.
In the male, it stimulates testosterone production.
Macromineral - an element essential in large quantities. Includes
Ca, Mg, P, Na, Cl, and K.
Mastitis - Inflammation of the mammary glands.
ME - metabolizable energy
Meat and bone meal - the rendered production from animal tissues,
Microminerals - an element needed in very small quantities.
Also called trace minerals. Includes Fe, Co, Cr, Cu, I, Mn,
Se, Zn, and Mo.
Micron - one millionth of a meter. Measurement unit for wool
Milliliter (ml) - a unit of liquid volume in the metric system
equivalent to one thousandth of a liter or approximately .03381
fluid ounces in the English system.
Mixed grazing - grazing by two or more species of grazing animals
on the same unit of land . Also called multi-species grazing.
Mob - a group of sheep that have been run under exactly the
same conditions for the entire growing season.
Moorit - brown.
Morphology - the size and shape of sperm.
Motility -the ability of sperm to move by themselves.
Mottled-faced - having spots or patches of color on the face.
Muslim/Moslem - a member of the Islamic faith.
Mutton - the meat from an older sheep.
NAIS - National Animal Identification System.
NDF - neutral detergent fiber
NE - net energy
NSIP - National Sheep Improvement Program. A computerized genetic
evaluation program for sheep.
Necropsy - a postmortem examination.
Nematode - roundworm.
Nutrient management - identifying how the major plant nutrients
(nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium) are to be annually managed
for expected crop production and for the protection of water
Omasum - the third part of the ruminant stomach located between
the reticulum and the abomasum.
Orf - a viral skin disease affecting sheep and goats. People
can contact this disease.
Organic matter - the part of the soil that includes the decomposing
remains of plants and animals, as well as the product of complete
decomposition, known as humus.
Orthodox - referring to the Eastern Church.
Ova - female sex egg. Also called ovum, oocyte.
Ovine - of, pertaining to, resembling, or being a sheep
Ovis - a taxonomic genus wthin the sub family caprinae -- the sheep
Ovulation - the release of mature eggs from the ovary.
Oxytocin - a naturally secreted hormone that is important in
milk letdown and the contraction of the smooth uterine muscles
during the birthing process.
Paddock - an enclosed area for grazing animals.
Parturition - the act of giving birth.
Pedigree - line of descent of a purebred animal.
Pelt - the skin of a sheep with the wool on.
Perennial plant - plant that lasts three seasons or more.
Periparturient - around the time of giving birth.
pH - a value that indicates the acidity of something (e.g. rumen, soil).
Phenotype - the observable characteristics of an individual.
Photoperiod - the relationship between the length of light and
dark in a 24-hour period.
Pinkeye - condition in which the conjunctiva (membranes lining
the eyelids and covering the white part of the eye) become inflamed
or infected. Also called conjunctivitis.
Pizzle - the penis of an animal.
Placenta - the organ that nourishes the fetus(es) in the uterus.
Pneumonia - an infection in the lungs.
Polled - the abscence of horns.
Predator - an animal that lives by killing and eating other
Probiotic - living organisms used to manipulate fermentation
in the rumen.
Progeny - the offspring of an individual.
Progesterone - a female hormone secreted by the ovary. Produced
in large quantities by the placenta during pregnancy.
Prolific - producing offspring in abundance.
Protozoa - the first animals; the lowliest forms of life, all
Purebred - wholly of one breed or line (as opposed to crossbred).
Raddle - color pigment that is applied to the ram's brisket to mark females he mates.
Ram - uncastrated adult male sheep
Ram effect - stimulating non-cycling ewes to ovulate by the
sudden introduction of a ram or teaser ram.
Refugia - worms that have not been exposed to anthelmintics
and therefore are susceptible to drug treatment.
Reticulum - the second chamber of the ruminant digestive tract,
used for sorting out fine plant particles for further fermentation.
RFID - radio frequency identification. Refers to the technology
that uses devices attached to objects that transmit data to
an RFID receiver.
Ringwomb - failure of the cervix of a ewe to dilate during parturition.
Rotational grazing - a grazing scheme where animals are moved
from one grazing unit (paddock) to another.
Roughage - feed that is high in fiber, low in digestible nutrients,
and low in energy (e.g., hay, straw, silage, and pasture).
Roundworm -unsegmented worms with elongated rounded body pointed
at both ends.
Rumen - the first compartment of the stomach of a ruminant animal.
Tts bacteria and protozoa break down cellulose.
Ruminant - an animal with a multiple stomach that is able to
Safe pasture - pasture that is not infected with worm larvae.
Scouring - the actual separation of dirt, grease, and foreign
matter from grease wool.
Scours - diarrhea in livestock.
Scrapie - the TSE of sheep and goats. A fatal brain disease.
Scrotum - pouch in which the male's testicles are suspended
outside the body.
Scurs - little horns that have broken the skin, but not grown.
Second cuts - short tufts of wool cut at least twice by the
Selection - choosing of favorable offspring as parents for future
Selection differential - the difference between the mean of
the individuals selected to be parents and the mean of the overall
Selection index - a linear combination of phenotypic information
and weighting factors used for genetic prediction.
Semen - the combination of sperm, seminal fluid, and other male
Sharps - needles, syringes, scalpel blades, slides, pipettes,and anything else that can puncture the skin.
Shear - the act of cutting wool.
Sheath - an enveloping structure or covering enclosing an animal
organ or part.
Shed lambing - Housing ewes and newborn lambs in pens or sheds
to provide food, shelter, and medical care during and immediately
Silage - fodder (livestock feed) prepared by storing and fermenting
green forage plants in a silo.
Sire - father.
Skirting - removing the stained, unusable, or undesirable portions
of a fleece.
Slime graft - rubbing the fetal fluids and membrane of a ewe's
lamb onto a lamb that you wish to graft onto her.
Smut-faced - blackface x whiteface
Somatic cell count - the number of white blood cells per milliliter
of milk or measurement of the number of somatic cells present
in a sample of milk.
Sperm - male reproductive cells.
Spermatogenesis - sperm production
Spin - work natural fibers into thread or yarn.
Staple - refers to the length of a lock of shorn wool; in the
trade, "staple" refers to the longer length wools
within a grade.
STAR© System - accelerating lambing system in which ewes
produce five lamb crops in a three year period.
Stillborn - showing no signs of life at birth.
Stocking density - the relationship between the number of animals
and area of land at any given time.
Stocking rate - the number of specific kinds and classes of
animals grazing a unit of land for a specified period of time.
Stockpiled forage - forage that is allowed to accumulate for
Straw - the stems of wheat, barlely, or oat plants which are
cut and baled and often used for animal bedding. Sometimes,
straw is fed to animals.
Strip grazing - confining animals to an area of grazing land
to be grazed in a relatively short period of time.
Stun - make senseless.
Subcutaneous (sub-Q, SQ) - under the skin.
Sustainable agriculture - an approach to growing food and fiber
which is profitable, uses on-farm resources efficiently to minimize
adverse effects on the environment and people, preserves the
natural productivity and quality of land and water, and sustains
vibrant rural communities.
Tapeworm - ribbonlike flatworm that is parasitic in the intestines
Teaser - ram that have been surgically altered in a way that
prevents him from reproducing.
Testosterone - a hormone that promotes the development and maintenance
of male sex characteristics.
Top - a strand of longer fibers that have been straightened,
made parallel and separated from the shorter fibers by combing.
Top dress - a process that means apply to the top.
Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN) - standard system for expressing
the energy value of feeds.
Tup - British term for an uncastrated adult male sheep.
Udder - the milk secreting organ of a cow or sheep.
Ultrasound -a procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound)
are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes.
Urea - chief end product of mammalian protein metabolism.
Uterus - the organ in the female in which the fetuses develop.
Vaccine - injection given to animals to prevent or cure diseases.
Vagina - the canal that forms the passageway from the uterus
to the outside of the body. The birth canal.
Vegetable matter - any material of plant origin found in the
fleece, such as burrs, stickers, chaff and seed heads.
Vegetative - in developmental stages of plant growth. Non-reproductive
plant parts, i.e. leaf and stem; in contrast to reproductive
plant parts, i.e. flower and seed.
VFA - volatile fatty acid
Warm season plant - a plant that makes most of its growth during
late spring, summer, or early fall and is usually dormant in
Weaning - removal of young mammals from their source of milk.
Weed - a plant that is growing where it is unwanted.
Wet graft - immersing the lamb to be grafted, along with the
ewe's own lamb, into a saturated salt solution.
Wether - a castrated male sheep.
Withdrawal period - the time when a drug must not be administered
prior to marketing to insure that no drug residues remain in
the meat or milk.
Wool pool - a collection point for many producers to sell their
Woolen - yarn made from fibers that are one to three inches
in length and that have been carded only. Fabrics of woolen
yarn are characterized as being fuzzy, thick, and bulky.
Worsted - wool yarn of long staple with fibers that have been
combed prior to spinning. Combing produces more parallel fibers
Yearling - an animal between 1 and 2 years of age.
Yeast - single-cell fungi that improve food digestion by stimulating microbial activity.
Yoe - slang term for an adult female sheep.
Zero grazing - a method of raising livestock in pens or small
corrals where most of their fodder is grown elsewhere and carried
to the pen.
Zoonoses - a disease that is transmissible between humans and
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