Sheep Talk

May 31, 2016


It can appear to be a foreign language and a barrier to understanding what's going on. Here are some of the terms relating to sheep husbandry:

Cull ewe - sheep culled because of their age; not suitable for breeding and sold for meat

Clipping/Clip – cutting off the wool/all the wool from a flock

Crimp – the natural wave in wool. The closer the crimp the finer the wool

Drench – an oral veterinary medicine administered using a drenching gun

Flushing – providing especially nutritious feed in the few weeks before mating to improve fertility, or in the period before birth to increase lamb birth-weight

Fly strike or myiasis – infestation of the wool, skin and eventually flesh with blowfly maggots, rapidly causing injury or death. Usually (but not always) occurs where the wool has become contaminated by dung or urine, or at the site of an injury

Foot rot – infectious pododermatitis, a painful hoof disease

Gimmer – young female sheep, before their first lambs

Hogg – a young sheep of either sex from about 12 to 24 months of age (until it cuts two teeth)

Lanolin – a thick yellow greasy substance in wool, secreted by the sheep's skin

Mule – a type of cross-bred sheep, both hardy and suitable for meat. Usually bred from a Bluefaced Leicester ram on a hardy ewe, perhaps a Swaledale

Pour on - an externally applied medicine, applied along the backline of a freshly shorn sheep to control lice or other parasites

Raddle – coloured pigment used to mark chest of a ram, to mark the backs of ewes he mates

Scab or sheep scab – a type of mange in sheep, a skin disease caused by attack by the sheep scab mite Psoroptes ovis, a psoroptid mite

Scrapie – a wasting disease of sheep and goats, a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE, like BSE of cattle) and believed to be caused by a prion

Shearling – a yearling sheep before its first shearing

Store – a sheep (or other meat animal) in good average condition, but not fat. Usually bought by dealers to fatten for resale


Tup/Tupping - A ram/The period when the ram, usually housed separately, is kept with the ewes of the flock


Wether – a castrated male sheep.


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