When does a lamb become a sheep? A female lamb becomes a sheep at 12 months of age. While they are young, they are very gentle and easy to tend. Lambs do not mind being led by their shepherd. They stay together in a flock and are very susceptible to danger because of their relaxed nature and innocent behavior. They are easy prey unless there is a shepherd around to protect them or safeguards set up by the farmer.
As lambs grow, they soon turn into what is called a hogg. This is not the same thing as a pig; a lamb is called a hogg when it becomes weaned from its mother's milk. Farmers speed up this time by separating the lambs from their mothers. It usually takes 60 days or longer for a lamb to wean from its mother and turn into a hogg.
Next, the hogg becomes a shearling or gimmer at about two years of age. This means they have had their first shearing of their fur. The fur is shaved off and sold to be used in clothing and many other things.
Finally, the shearling or gimmer gives birth. Only after she has given birth to two sets of lambs does she earn the title of ewe. Some people call the ewe a yow instead. A female sheep usually gives birth to her first set of lambs at age two. So, the term ewe describes a three-year old female sheep.
Ewes give birth to two lambs at a time. Occasionally, they will produce one lamb too many. This is called a blackbelly or a bum. Whenever this occurs, it is the farmer's responsibility to raise the lamb, as the mother will kick one of the three lambs away. The reason she does this is because she cannot feed more than two lambs successfully.
A call will go out for someone willing to raise a baby lamb on a bottle. This is a very time-consuming task but a very rewarding one as well. With humans helping the process along, all of the lambs will usually survive.