Are sheep and lamb the same? Looks like a situation where you wish to turn those pages in the textbooks back from school. Well, the answer to the question is both yes and no at the same time. If you ask whether sheep and lamb are the same, technically they are not, but biologically they belong to the same species. Lambs are the offspring of sheep, but they are known by a different name, like many animals and their young ones. And similarly, like most animals and their younger ones, they too are different in many ways.

Before going into the similarities and differences between sheep and lamb, let us get to know some facts regarding the sheep species. The fluffy animal that has been serving us with milk and wool for centuries was among the first animals to be domesticated on the planet earth. There are several breeds of sheep across the world, and they are commonly raised in flocks rather than kept as pets. They have the tendency to obey and follow a single leader, be it a person or another sheep, or even another animal, making it all the easier to manage them. After 12 months from birth, sheep are no longer lambs and get assigned their genders. Female sheep are called ewes, and male sheep are called rams. Now, let us get into the differences between sheep and lamb.

Physical Differences Between Sheep and Lamb

Physical differences between lamb and sheep

Since lambs are the offspring of sheep, obviously they are smaller in size than their parents. And the size difference is so large that distinguishing between a sheep and a lamb is no big task. Sheep are huge animals, weighing about 150 to 300 pounds, with the wild ones more likely to be in the heavier category, whereas lambs weigh from 5 to 12 pounds only. An endangered species called the argali sheep is a wild variety of sheep that is the largest among the lot. When fully grown, they could stand up to 4 feet tall and can even weigh up to 700 pounds!

Another distinguishable physical feature is the visible difference in the texture and thickness of their coats. Lambs’ coats are soft and fluffy, as compared to that of sheep. This increases the demand for their coats by creating softer and comfier yarns and blankets. A lamb can be sheared from 6 months of age, and it is quite popular for its soft wool.

Another very noticeable feature is the presence and absence of horns. Lambs usually lack horns, and sometimes male lambs might spot small bumps where horns are supposed to be, whereas adult male sheep or rams have big curly horns on either side of their heads. These horns start growing when they reach 2 to 3 years of age and continue to grow throughout.

Do Lambs and Sheep Have Similar Diets?

Lamb, sheep and their diet

Lambs, as they are called, till they reach 12 months of age, survive over their mother’s milk, the ewes, for the first few weeks from their birth. Soon after that, they start consuming what the adult sheep have, like grasses and legumes. After starting on the herbivorous diet, they no longer go back to milk or dairy products.

Do Lambs and Sheep Have Similar Characters?

Both lamb and sheep are sociable animals, with slight exceptions to rams, which could turn aggressive at times. Lambs, during the early stages of life, spend most of their time with their mother and siblings, while sheep spend most of their time among their flock. Wild sheep are found to be more unsociable than domesticated ones and can often be seen moving alone.

In terms of their interactions with people and other animals, lambs are gentle animals who get along with people and other animals easily. Lambs are often bottle-fed, which tricks them into considering the human feeding them as their mother, strengthening the bond between them. These friendly animals are fun to keep around and are sometimes kept as pets.

Sheep too, are gentle animals, rarely causing trouble to the one owning them. Their meekness is a bonus that helps the shepherds to control them, making them great for keeping as livestock. They are also great followers, which means that the shepherd would only have to train the dominant one among the flock to manage the whole flock. This dominant one may not always be a sheep; it could be a person as well.

Sheep or Lamb; Which Is Easier to Keep?

When it comes to keeping and maintaining lambs and sheep, there are some factors that you must look into beforehand. Lambs and sheep are generally gentle animals easy to feed and manage. But when it comes to keeping lambs as pets, house training them will be a difficult task. Apart from that, lambs are the perfect entertainers that can provide you company and are easy to be around. If looking from a business point of view too, lamb wool and leather are in superior demand compared to that of sheep, but with only one drawback, lambs won’t stay lambs for longer periods.

Coming to sheep, they are great animals to keep and feed, even in small areas. You can accommodate around 6 to 10 sheep in an acre of grass. The ease to control and manage them too are factors that make them a favorite among farm animals. One exception will be the aggressiveness of rams, which could also be managed and controlled with some effort. Otherwise, they are the perfect animals that will also provide you with a steady income from their milk and wool.


So, are sheep and lamb the same? If you have read till now, you must have got the answer and an idea about the differences and similarities between lambs and sheep. Isn’t it amazing how much difference just 12 months of a gap in their lives make!


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