The Ultimate Guide: What is a Male Sheep Called and Sheep Terminology Explained

Whether you are interested in raising sheep, have a kid asking you all kinds of “why” questions, or are simply curious about these animals I’ve got you covered.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced shepherd, understanding the terminology related to sheep and their genders any slang term you might hear is so important to finding your way around, being able to ask the right questions, and if we are being honest sounding like you know what you are talking about.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the world of sheep and explore the key question: What is a male sheep called? As well as some other terminology that could be helpful for you to know.

What is a Male Sheep Called?

A male sheep is called a ram. 

Rams are easily recognizable by their large powerful physique. But let me also say that the ah hem adult male sheep parts that hang between the rear legs are HUGE. Like bigger than a mature ewe’s milk sack. 

You can’t rely on a sheep having horns to tell you if it is a male sheep or not because some breeds of sheep both adult females and males have horns. Different breeds of sheep can also look larger.

If you have not been around a group of sheep very often and you don’t think you would recognize a male sheep your best bet to tell if it is a ram is by looking for the family jewels like mentioned before. You can’t miss them. 

male sheep in the bushes

Understanding Sheep Age and Gender Lingo:

To fully grasp the terminology associated with sheep and their ages and genders, it’s important to familiarize yourself with some key terms. Let’s explore them:

  1. Ewe: A female sheep is called an ewe. Ewes play a critical role in the flock as they are responsible for giving birth to lambs and nurturing them.
  2. Lamb: A lamb is a young sheep. It is typically less than one year old. Lambs are usually born in the spring and are known for their playful and curious nature.
  3. Ram Lamb: A ram lamb is a young male sheep. It is 12 months of age or less and has not yet reached sexual maturity. Ram lambs are future rams and will grow up to lead their own flock one day. While I know we are talking about the fellas its helpful to know that a ewe Lamb is you guessed it. A female sheep under one year.
  4. Yearling Rams are just what they sound like. Male sheep that are just around one year old.
  5. Teaser Ram is a male that is put in with a flock of ewes to trigger the females to come into season so the mating season can start a bit early. This is important if you are in an area where the winters can be really bad and you don’t end up with lambing in the snow during late winter. Which can happen the ewes don’t come into season in early spring. 
  6. Hogget: A hogget is an intermediate stage between lamb and adult sheep. This term is commonly used in countries like Australia and New Zealand. Hoggets are typically between one and two years old and are sexually mature.
  7. Yearling: A yearling is a sheep that is exactly one year old. They have passed the lamb stage and are still developing before they reach adulthood. Yearlings can be either male or female.
  8. Teg: A teg is a young female sheep that has not yet given birth to a lamb. It is a term commonly used to refer to young ewes.
  9. Wether: A wether is a castrated male sheep. Castration is performed to prevent unwanted breeding or to improve the temperament of the sheep. Wethers are often raised for meat and are known for their docile nature.
  10. A herd is what a large groups of sheep are called.
flock of sheep

Benefits of Understanding Sheep Age and Gender Terminology:

Knowing the correct terms for different stages of a sheep’s life and their gender is not only useful for communication within the farming community, but it also helps you make informed decisions in sheep husbandry. Here are some benefits of understanding sheep terminology:

  1. Breeding Management: Understanding the terms “ram” and “ewe” is essential for effective breeding management. Breeding rams should be selected based on their desirable traits, such as good conformation, genetic health, and temperament.
  2. Flock Health: Recognizing the age of a sheep helps in assessing its nutritional needs and potential health issues. For instance, lambs have different dietary requirements than adult sheep, and yearlings may require additional support to ensure proper growth.
  3. Marketing and Sales: When selling sheep, using accurate terminology can attract potential buyers. For example, highlighting the desirable traits of a ram lamb can make it more appealing to other shepherds looking to improve their flock. 

Understanding sheep age and gender terminology is crucial for anyone involved in sheep husbandry. From knowing what a male sheep is called (a ram) to comprehending the various stages of a sheep’s life, accurate terminology helps shepherds communicate effectively and make informed decisions.

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