In like a lion, out like a lamb. A wolf in sheep's clothing. Ruminants seem to have a hold on our collective imagination, but what exactly is the difference between them? Let's get to the bottom of lamb vs. sheep mysteries.
What Is a Lamb?
A lamb is simply a baby sheep (Ovis aries). Lambs nurse from their mothers until they are four or five months old, at which point their milk teeth fall out. Lambs sexually mature between 1 and 2 years of age, around which point their adult teeth form.
People generally use the word lamb to refer to sheep under 1 year old.
A young male sheep may be called a ram lamb, while a young female sheep may be called a ewe lamb.
What Is the Difference Between a Lamb and a Sheep?
A lamb and a sheep are the same species, just at different ages. Baby sheep are called lambs, and mature sheep are called sheep.
What Is a Sheep?
Domesticated sheep (Ovis aries) are ruminants (cud-chewing animals) which humans use for meat, milk and wool. Sheep were domesticated from wild sheep around 5000 BCE; sheep wool, milk and meat remain important products for humans.
Adult sheep go by several names:
An adult female sheep is called a ewe.
An adult male sheep is called a ram.
A castrated male sheep is called a wether.
At the Butcher Shop
Although a lamb and a sheep are the same animal, sheep meat tastes different depending on how old the animal was when it was slaughtered.
Lamb refers to meat from a young sheep, slaughtered at less than one year of age.
Meat from an adult sheep is called mutton. Mutton is known for having a more gamey flavor than lamb meat.
It's not uncommon for meat from the same species to have different names. For example, beef from a very young cow is known as veal. Meat from baby animals has a milder flavor and a more tender texture.
Original article: Lamb vs. Sheep: Do You Know the Difference?
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