Of all the baby animals out there in the world, baby sheep are probably the most precious. Those little, perfect wooly bodies, adorable faces, and those tiny hooves… they’re so cute!
These baby sheep are extremely important to farmers and homesteaders the world over. Not only do they wool but they are also vital for expanding the size of the flock!
Speaking of the flock, just what is a baby sheep called, anyway?
Baby sheep are called lambs. Lambs are called lambs until they reach 1 year of age, when they are referred to as sheep or hoggets depending on the country.
Lambs are the most adorable part of owning sheep, no doubt about it, but as cute as they are, they are still important members of the flock, and they grow quickly.
There is a lot more to learn about lambs, and I will tell you all about it just below.
A Lamb is a Lamb Until it is 1 Year Old
A lamb is considered a lamb, regardless of any other qualities, until it reaches one year of age. After that, it’s generally considered just a sheep (or a hogget, depending on where you live).
The term hogget is common enough in the UK and some other countries, while in America these year-old lambs are usually just referred to as sheep, but sometimes called yearlings.
Lambs Grow Quickly, and Appear Fully Grown Around 6 Months of Age
Lambs start off tiny, fuzzy and incredibly precocious but they grow surprisingly fast.
In fact, one of the most fascinating things about lambs and sheep generally is how quickly they grow and develop.
Lambs are born small, weak and nearly helpless, weighing only around 10 pounds or a little less.
However, they grow surprisingly fast, and by the time they’re just six months old, they appear fully grown and almost indistinguishable from adults of their breed!
You might be even more surprised to learn that lambs grow faster than any other common livestock animal.
During their first few weeks of life, they gain an average of half a pound of weight a day. By the time they’re three months old, they generally weigh anywhere from 50 to 75 pounds- again depending on the breed.
So even though an 8 month old lamb might still be considered a lamb, it isn’t too far off to say that they are lambs in name only: they look and act like fully grown sheep at this point!
Male and Female Lambs Don’t Get Special Names
In several livestock species, young animals have more special names depending on the sex of the animal in question.
For instance, with chickens, a young female is called a pullet and a young male is called a cockerel.
You already know that adult chickens are called hens and roosters, respectively. Both young birds might technically still be chicks, but there’s an additional distinction.
But with lambs, the difference in sex doesn’t get them a neat name of their own as we will learn.
What is a Male Lamb Called?
Male lambs are called simply ram lambs, just like the true adults in the flock. Ram lambs are prized in some countries, especially the UK.
They’re often used for showing or breeding, but they can also be slaughtered for meat as well.
Once the young ram lamb grows up and hits a year of age, he will simply be referred to as a ram, nothing more!
What is a Female Lamb Called?
In the same way as the boys, female lambs are called ewe lambs. Again, this is the same name as the female adults in the flock, and in the same ways these young sheep are often used for showing, breeding and meat.
Do Lambs Have Any Nicknames?
Yes, a few. Sometimes a male lamb or adolescent young male will be called a tup, which is derived from an ancient British word.
Similarly, you will sometimes hear them called bucks, which is not technically correct. But there is no harm in it and most seasoned keepers will know what you are talking about…
What is a Spring Lamb?
A spring lamb refers to any lamb born sometime during the winter, or early spring, and one that is subsequently sold before July 1st.
This term sounds sweet, but is usually in reference to a lamb sold for meat!
What is a Castrated Lamb Called?
A castrated lamb is referred to as a wether. Castration is usually done so that the lamb can be kept with other sheep without creating territorial fights or breeding.
Keeping two breeds of sheep together can be challenging to say the least if you don’t “fix” them!
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.