Difference Between Lamb And Sheep (FAQ)

Whether you are a sheep farmer or just occasionally eat lamb, you may have wondered what the differences between sheep and lamb are. 

While sheep and lamb are similar in some ways, there are also several key differences we’ll cover in this article to help you understand how lamb and sheep are different. 

The critical difference between lamb and sheep is simply: lambs are young sheep, while adult sheep are simply called ewes or rams. Main differences also include size, coat, diet, meat, and overall price.

Read on to learn more about how sheep are different from lambs and vice versa. 

difference between lamb and sheep

What Are the Differences Between Lamb and Sheep? 

Size: Lamb Vs. Sheep

Another difference between lamb and sheep is simply their size. 

Lambs are far smaller than sheep and may weigh between 5 and 10 pounds at birth. 

Fully grown sheep typically range from 100 to 300 pounds, with some growing up to 4′ feet tall. 

Coat: Lamb Vs. Sheep

While both lambs and sheep produce wool, lambs’ wool is softer and more delicate than wool from adult sheep. 

Diet: Lamb Vs. Sheep

Young lambs typically eat only their mother’s milk or special formula designed for feeding lambs. 

Sheep feed on grasses, legumes, and flowers once they are older. 

Related: Can baby sheep drink cow’s milk?

Meat: Lamb Vs. Sheep

Meat from lambs is simply called lamb meat, while meat from fully grown sheep is called mutton. 

While people eat both, lamb meat tends to be more tender, while mutton tends to have a more robust flavor. 

Lamb meat has a milder flavor and is more pink than mutton. 

Price: Lamb Vs. Sheep

The final difference between lamb and sheep is how lambs typically sell for less money than adult ewes or rams. 

They are not experienced breeders and typically are sold only for meat or sheared for wool. 

Check out our cost of sheep buying guide.

What is a Sheep? 

A sheep, or Ovis aries, is a woolly ruminant mammal kept for its wool, meat, and milk by humans. They are typically very furry or wooly because of the heavy wool coats they grow on their bodies. 

Sheep are often brown, black, or white with various markings. 

They can grow pretty large, with most reaching 100-300 pounds, although some are as large as 700 pounds. 

What Do People Keep Sheep and Lamb For? 

People keep sheep for many reasons. Sheep’s wool is an excellent material used for crafting clothing and bedding, so sheep are often kept for their wool production. Humans widely eat lamb meat. Finally, sheep are milked, and their milk is drunk or turned into cheeses. 

Lambs are primarily kept for their meat production and wool production, as they do not produce the milk that adult ewes do. 

For more info on where to sell sheep wool and other questions, check out our article at the link.

Is A Sheep and Lamb the Same?

While sheep and lambs are the same species, they are not entirely alike. Lambs are immature sheep, while adult sheep are called ewes or rams. 

Lambs are smaller than adult sheep, have more delicate wool, and have more tender meat. 

Lambs and sheep are raised for different purposes as well. 

While both lambs and sheep produce wool and meat, lamb wool and meat are more valuable than mature sheep meat or sheep wool. 

Meat from sheep who are adults is often tougher and more strongly flavored than meat from lambs. 

Additionally, while ewe milk is harvested and turned into cheeses and spreads, lambs do not produce milk. 

Does a Lamb Become a Sheep?

Lambs eventually grow up to be mature sheep. They spend time developing from the time they are born until they are fully grown as adult sheep. Lambs spend their early months feeding on their mother’s milk, later being weaned off sheep milk and let loose to pasture. 

Once at pasture, the lambs eat grasses and legumes to fill their nutritional needs. 

When Does a Lamb Become a Sheep? 

Typically, lambs are considered sheep once they have reached 12 months of age. Until they are a year old, sheep are called lambs because of their young age. 

Why Do We Eat Lamb and Not Sheep?

Why Do We Eat Lamb and Not Sheep

While humans eat meat from adult sheep, called mutton, we primarily eat meat from lambs because it is more tender and delicately flavored than mutton. This being said, mutton is an excellent addition to any stew. 

Is a Leg of Lamb from a Baby Sheep?

A leg of lamb does indeed come from a baby sheep, which may be shocking for some people. It is sometimes unnerving to know your food came from a baby animal, but it is essential to be aware of where your food is coming from. 

To ensure you are eating ethically, it is vital to purchase your lamb meat from locally-owned farms which treat their lambs with respect and kindness. 

Is Lamb Meat Healthy For You?

Lamb meat has a very high protein content, making it an excellent addition to the diets of people who need more protein in their lives. Protein is an essential part of any diet, especially for people who have anemia. 

Getting enough protein in your diet is essential for keeping yourself healthy. 

Does Lamb Meat Taste Good? 

Lamb meat has a lovely, delicate flavor and adds to any dish. There is a reason it is such a popular meat, and the reason is its flavor and texture. 

Many traditional dishes are made with lamb, especially in India and Central Asia, where other red meats are sometimes unavailable or avoided due to religious reasons. 

Lamb is an integral part of many peoples’ diets, and there is a large economy associated with lamb meat. 

Is a Sheep Male or Female?

Sheep are either male or female, depending on their genitalia. Male sheep are called rams, while female sheep are called ewes. Young sheep are called lambs. 

Is a Ram a Goat or a Sheep?

Rams may actually be either goats or sheep. “Ram” is a word for a male sheep or goat and is used interchangeably between the two species. 

How Do You Tell How Old a Sheep Is?

It is possible to tell the age of the sheep based simply on the number of teeth it has in its mouth. While lambs have small milk teeth aligned in the front of their mouths, older sheep have larger teeth that grow in gradually. 

The more large teeth a sheep has, the older it is. 

Sheep with just two large front teeth are typically 12-18 months old, while sheep with four large front teeth are up to two years old. 

Finally, 2-3 years old sheep have six large front teeth, and fully grown sheep have even more. 

What is a Ewe Lamb?

A ewe lamb is a young, unweaned, female lamb. They are called ewe lambs because they are young and female. These lambs have never had babies and typically have not been mated. 

Ewe lambs are typically some of the cheapest sheep to buy because they are sexually immature and not yet ready to mate and produce offspring. 

They are also inexperienced breeders with little breeding history, meaning they may not do well-giving birth or raising young. 

Ewe lambs are typically a hundred or a few hundred dollars cheaper than adult ewes. 

How Fast do Lambs Grow?

Weaned lambs fed on only pasture can gain 0.25 to 0.35 pounds per day, so lambs grow pretty fast. If they are fed a grain diet, they grow even faster, gaining at least 0.75 pounds per day. 

It is essential to feed your lambs a healthy diet matching your goals. 

When raising them to be meat lambs, a grain diet will make them put on more weight more quickly.

When raising them as breeders or wool lambs, it is okay to feed them simply on pasture. 

When Do Lambs Reach Market Weight? 

Market weight for lambs is around 120-150 pounds, meaning if a lamb grows at 0.35 pounds per day, it takes just about a year to reach market weight. Market weight is the weight at which a lamb is typically exhibited at county fairs and then slaughtered for meat. 

Market weight is an essential concept for first-time sheep farmers because it dictates when your sheep are shown and sold. 

If your sheep are not up to their market weight, it is difficult to gain entry to shows and hard to sell them for their meat, as buyers look at weight as one factor when deciding where to buy lambs. 

Why Are Lambs Cheaper Than Ewes?

Lambs are cheaper to purchase than ewes because they are inexperienced breeders. While lamb meat is typically more expensive than the meat of fully grown sheep, lambs themselves draw lower prices when being sold for breeding because they do not have breeding experience and may not mother or birth their young well. 

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Growing up amidst the sprawling farms of the South, Wesley developed a profound connection with farm animals from a young age. His childhood experiences instilled in him a deep respect for sustainable and humane farming practices. Today, through Farmpertise.com, Wesley shares his rich knowledge, aiming to inspire and educate others about the joys and intricacies of rural life.

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