Ewe lambs and ewes

What Is A Female Sheep Called? And Other Sheep Fun Facts

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If you plan to raise sheep successfully, it’s essential to know the terminologies for female sheep. Like other animals, these sheep terminologies are the basis for defining gender, characteristics, and relationships between flock members. In addition, these unique terminologies will help you buy, raise, and care for your animals. So, what is a female sheep called?

A female sheep is called a ewe. The term usually refers to adult female sheep ready for breeding and those actively breeding.

If you intend to understand more about the female sheep, this article is for you. Keep reading!

female sheep grazing

A Deeper Look into Female Sheep Terminologies

“Ewe” (pronounced as ‘you’ in American English) is the official term for female sheep between the ages of seven months and until they die of old age or are sold for meat.

In other words, the term refers to female sheep mature enough to breed within breeding and post-productivity ages.

You could also encounter the terms gimmer and yow when researching female sheep. Both terms refer to the female sheep, but gimmer is more unofficial and uncommon, while yow is a slang term referring to a girl sheep that have bred before.

Female sheep can start breeding at seven months, but most will be bred from one year of age. If an adult female sheep will be used for breeding, it’s called a brood ewe.

Once the ewe has lambs, it’s referred to as the dam of its lambs. You’ll frequently hear the term dam when breeders discuss mother-lamb relationships in sheep or pedigree and registration.

While sheep can live well into their teens, their average lifespan is 10 to 12 years. For most sheep, signs of old age start at around age seven, and their productivity declines sharply.

Most breeders will retire their female sheep from breeding at around 7-8 years old. When a ewe gets too old to produce, it’s called a cull ewe or cull yow.

READ ALSO: Super Cute Sheep Names for Your Flock

What is a baby female sheep called?

A young female sheep is called a ewe lamb. The young female lamb retains the name from birth to the age it’s ready to breed. For most sheep breeds, the time ranges from birth to around 7 months but can go up to 1 year.

Though the ages could overlap, a sheep moves from a baby to young status when it’s weaned. Even so, it will retain its name as a ewe lamb until it matures to breeding age of seven months to one year.

These younglings live on their mother’s milk for several weeks after birth but may nibble at the grass as they age. At this stage, the ewe lamb entirely depends on the milk for nutrients, and you should ensure the mother is well fed to produce enough.

Also, younglings need enough milk to be at least 45 pounds by the time they achieve the weaning age of 60 days. To ensure the ewe lambs transition well into post-suckling life, most breeders wean them at 60 days or weighing at least 45 pounds.

Even so, it’s upon the breeder to decide if the ewe lambs are ready for weaning or not. Once weaned, the ewe lambs depend on grass and other forage types for their nutrients.

You should provide salt licks for young sheep and offer clean drinking water for your ewe lambs. If well fed, the ewe lambs should be strong and healthy enough for breeding from seven months to a year of age.

Usually, breeders wait until the female lambs attain a year or get the appropriate weight and health status.

And typically, most sheep breeds achieve favorable breeding status between a year and two years of age. Therefore, a female sheep between a year and two years is called a yearling ewe.

Ewe lambs and ewes

The Lifecycle of Female Sheep

The maturity age for sheep breeds usually starts at 8 months to the end of their life. However, a mature sheep will be healthy enough to produce from eight months to when it clocks seven years

Within that age, the female sheep will produce lambs and heavy wool as expected as long as it’s well fed and healthy. Also, it will achieve the maximum weight expected for the specific sheep breed.

For instance, the female Suffolk sheep can gain up to 300 pounds, while Babydoll sheep average 60-120 pounds.

Adult female sheep undergo an estrus cycle after about 14 to 17 days. During the heat period, the ewe shows extra interest in flirting with a ram, and some will become extra aggressive.

If serviced, the ewe will be pregnant for about 150 days. As the pregnancy progresses, experts advise that you separate the pregnant ewes from the flock to better care for them.

Their diet also should include grains, nutrient supplements, mineral salts, and extra forage to sustain their nutrients during gestation.

A female sheep will become too old and unhealthy to breed past eight years, and it’s now called a cull ewe.

READ ALSO: Over 100 Catchy Sheep Farm Names Ideas


Sheep rearing can be fun and profitable, but you must first understand the unique terminology used in the sheep world.

The major ones among the primary vocabularies you should know are the sheep’s gender names and how they change at various stages. Now that you know a female sheep is called a ewe, what are your favorite pet sheep names?

Let us know in the comments section below. And if you are looking for cute sheep names, check out this article. Are you going big on your sheep farming? Here is a list of sheep farm name ideas to inspire you.

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