You might have a beautiful sheepskin rug in your home or be partial to a roast lamb dinner on a Sunday but, you would be forgiven for thinking that aside from that, sheep just make certain parts of our country look picturesque. In fact, sheep are unique, endearing and contribute more to our way of life than we give them initial credit for. As a result, different breeds of sheep have been reared and used for numerous reasons and products for thousands of years.

Meat

An obvious but delicious one. Lambs have been bred and sold as meat for humans to eat for countless years. Although the meat from sheep only accounts for around 6 percent of the worlds meat consumption, it remains a popular choice for meat eaters everywhere. Lamb is the meat from a sheep which is less than one year old, whereas mutton comes from sheep over one year and above. This kind of meat is rich in the vitamins and proteins humans need to stay healthy.

Dairy

Sheep are not widely known for their dairy products but they remain very popular in the US. Sheep based dairy products are made into ice cream, butter, yoghurt and cheese, which is made from the milk of the sheep. Sheep based cheeses include feta and ricotta . Sheep produce a smaller amount of milk than cows because they don’t produce milk all year round and sheep milk is mineral rich and fattier in comparison, aiding to specialist cheese production.

Science & Beauty

Whatever your beauty routine, it is highly likely you have used sheep based products in your daily regime. Lanolin is a natural greasy substance found in the raw wool of a sheep and is used in anything from lipsticks and face creams to shampoo and mascara along with a host of other beauty products. Lanolin is also used in the production of adhesives, printing inks and lubrication for machinery and engines.

Wool & Sheepskin

 The most common use for a sheep is for it’s skin and wool. Sheep are known for producing a very soft and supple leather and their skins are used to make chamois leather cloths. Sheep wool has a huge range of different uses including insulation, clothing, blankets, bedding, upholstery and tennis ball and pool table coverings. The wool from a sheep absorbs moisture and keep things cool in summer and warm in winter, making wool blankets and sheets perfect for babies. A certain amount of sheepskin is preserved with the wool still attached, these are then made into sheepskin rugs.

The Environment

Along with being extremely versatile, sheep are also good for the environment and landscape. As the sheep graze, they remove unwanted vegetation, weeds and plants. Sheep also contribute to solar farming by controlling the vegetation which grows underneath the solar panels.

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