Domestic sheep are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals kept as livestock. Like most ruminants, sheep are members of the even-toed ungulates. Although the name sheep applies to many species in the genus Ovis, in everyday usage it always refers to Ovis aries. Numbering a little over one billion, domestic sheep are the most numerous species of sheep. An adult female sheep is referred to as a ewe, an intact male as a ram or a tup, a castrated male as a wether, a younger sheep as a lamb. Sheep are most descended from the wild mouflon of Europe and Asia. One of the earliest animals to be domesticated for agricultural purposes, sheep are raised for fleeces and milk. A sheep's wool is the most used animal fiber, is harvested by shearing. Ovine meat is called lamb when from younger animals and mutton when from older ones in Commonwealth countries, lamb in the United States. Sheep continue to be important for wool and meat today, are occasionally raised for pelts, as dairy animals, or as model organisms for science.
Sheep husbandry is practised throughout the majority of the inhabited world, has been fundamental to many civilizations. In the modern era, New Zealand, the southern and central South American nations, the British Isles are most associated with sheep production. Sheepraising has a large lexicon of unique terms which vary by region and dialect. Use of the word sheep began in Middle English as a derivation of the Old English word scēap. A group of sheep is called a herd or mob. Many other specific terms for the various life stages of sheep exist related to lambing and age. Being a key animal in the history of farming, sheep have a entrenched place in human culture, find representation in much modern language and symbology; as livestock, sheep are most associated with pastoral, Arcadian imagery. Sheep figure in many mythologies—such as the Golden Fleece—and major religions the Abrahamic traditions. In both ancient and modern religious ritual, sheep are used as sacrificial animals; the exact line of descent between domestic sheep and their wild ancestors is unclear.
The most common hypothesis states. Sheep were among the first animals to be domesticated by humankind. C in Mesopotamia; the rearing of sheep for secondary products, the resulting breed development, began in either southwest Asia or western Europe. Sheep were kept for meat and skins. Archaeological evidence from statuary found at sites in Iran suggests that selection for woolly sheep may have begun around 6000 BC, the earliest woven wool garments have been dated to two to three thousand years later. Sheep husbandry spread in Europe. Excavations show that in about 6000 BC, during the Neolithic period of prehistory, the Castelnovien people, living around Châteauneuf-les-Martigues near present-day Marseille in the south of France, were among the first in Europe to keep domestic sheep. From its inception, ancient Greek civilization relied on sheep as primary livestock, were said to name individual animals. Ancient Romans kept sheep on a wide scale, were an important agent in the spread of sheep raising.
Pliny the Elder, in his Natural History, speaks at length about wool. European colonists spread the practice to the New World from 1493 onwards. Domestic sheep are small ruminants with a crimped hair called wool and with horns forming a lateral spiral. Domestic sheep differ from their wild relatives and ancestors in several respects, having become uniquely neotenic as a result of selective breeding by humans. A few primitive breeds of sheep retain some of the characteristics of their wild cousins, such as short tails. Depending on breed, domestic sheep may have no horns at all, or horns in both sexes, or in males only. Most horned breeds have a single pair. Another trait unique to domestic sheep as compared to wild ovines is their wide variation in color. Wild sheep are variations of brown hues, variation within species is limited. Colors of domestic sheep range from pure white to dark chocolate brown, spotted or piebald. Selection for dyeable white fleeces began early in sheep domestication, as white wool is a dominant trait it spread quickly.
However, colored sheep do appear in many modern breeds, may appear as a recessive trait in white flocks. While white wool is desirable for large commercial markets, there is a niche market for colored fleeces for handspinning; the nature of the fleece varies among the breeds, from dense and crimped, to long and hairlike. There is variation of wool type and quality among members of the same flock, so wool classing is a step in the commercial processing of the fibre. Depending on breed, sheep show a range of weights, their rate of growth and mature weight is a heritable trait, selected for in breeding. Ewes weigh between 45 and 100 kilograms, rams between 45 and 160 kilograms; when all deciduous teeth have erupted, the sheep has 20 teeth. Mature sheep have 32 teeth; as with other ruminants, the front teeth in the lower jaw bite against a hard, toothless pad in the upper jaw. These are used to pick off vegetation the rear
Sheep shearing is the process by which the woollen fleece of a sheep is cut off. The person who removes the sheep's wool is called a shearer; each adult sheep is shorn once each year. The annual shearing most occurs in a shearing shed, a facility designed to process hundreds and sometimes more than 3,000 sheep per day. Sheep are shorn in all seasons, depending on the climate, management requirements and the availability of a woolclasser and shearers. Ewes are shorn prior to lambing, but consideration is made as to the welfare of the lambs by not shearing during cold climate winters. Shorn sheep tolerate frosts well, but young sheep will suffer in cold, wet windy weather. In this event they are shedded for several nights; some sheep may be shorn with stud combs which leave more wool on the animal, giving greater protection. Sheep shearing is considered a sport with competitions held around the world, it is done between spring and summers The wealth of ancient Knossos, Europe's oldest city, derived from its sheep wool industry.
The largest group of Linear B tablets is the great archive principally of shearing records though of sheep breeding. The medieval English wool trade was one of the most important factors in the English economy; the main sheep-shearing was an annual midsummer event in medieval England culminating in the sheep-shearing feast. It had always been conventional practice to wash sheep. Australia's fine woolsIn Australia, until the 1870s, squatters washed their sheep in nearby creeks prior to shearing; some expensive hot water installations were constructed on some of the larger stations for the washing. Australian growers were influenced by the Spanish practice of washing their fine wool after shearing. There were three main reasons for the custom in Australia: The English manufacturers demanded that Australian woolgrowers provide their fleeces free from excessive vegetable matter, soil, etc. so they could be processed in the same way as any other raw wool The dirty fleeces were hard to shear and demanded that the metal blade shears be sharpened more often.
Wool in Australia was charged by weight. Washed wool did not cost as much to transport; the practice of washing the wool rather than the sheep evolved from the fact that hotter water could be used to wash the wool, than that used to wash the sheep. When the practice of selling wool in the grease occurred in the 1890s, wool washing became obsolete. Australia and New Zealand had to discard the old methods of wool harvesting and evolve more efficient systems to cope with the huge numbers of sheep involved. Shearing was revolutionized by the invention of Frederick York Wolseley, his machines made in Birmingham, England, by his business The Wolseley Sheep Shearing Machine Company were introduced after 1888, reducing second cuts and shearing time. By 1915 most large sheep station sheds in Australia had installed machines, driven by steam or by internal combustion engines. Shearing tables were invented in the 1950s and have not proved popular, although some are still used for crutching. In the US, the worldwide shortage of shearers is becoming a consideration for those wanting to expand wool production.
With sheep numbers declining in that country the profession sees less interest in becoming a qualified shearer. Importing labour during the Australian off-season has become problematic because of delays in obtaining work visa and because shearers numbers are limited worldwide. Today large flocks of sheep are mustered and treated for parasites such as lice before shearing can start. Then shorn by professional shearing teams working eight-hour days, most in spring, by machine shearing; these contract-teams consist of shed hands and a cook. Their working hours and wages are regulated by industry awards. A working day starts at 7:30 am and the day is divided into four "runs" of two hours each. "Smoko" breaks are a half-hour each and a lunch break is taken at midday for one hour. Most shearers are paid on a piece-rate per sheep. Shearers who "tally" more than 200 sheep per day are known as "gun shearers". Typical mass shearing of sheep today follows a well-defined workflow: remove the wool throw the fleece onto the wool table skirt and class the fleece place it in the appropriate wool bin press and store the wool until it is transported.
In 1984 Australia became the last country in the world to permit the use of wide combs, due to previous Australian Workers' Union rules. Although they were once rare in sheds, women now take a large part in the shearing industry by working as pressers, wool rollers, wool classers and shearers. A sheep is caught by the shearer, from the catching pen, taken to his "stand" on the shearing board, it is shorn using a mechanical handpiece. The wool is removed by following an efficient set of movements, devised by Godfrey Bowen in about 1950 or the Tally-Hi method developed in 1963 and promoted by the Australian Wool Corporation. Sheep struggle less using the Tally-Hi method, reducing strain on the shearer and there is a saving of about 30 seconds in shearing each one; the shearer begins by removing the belly wool, separated from the main fleece by a rouseabout, while the sheep is still being shorn. A professional or "gun" shearer removes a fleece, without marking or cutting the sheep, in two to three minutes, depending on the size and condition of the sheep—less than two minutes in elite-comp
Wassail is a beverage of hot mulled cider, drunk traditionally as an integral part of wassailing, a Medieval Christmastide English drinking ritual intended to ensure a good cider apple harvest the following year. The word wassail comes from Old English was hál, related to the Anglo-Saxon greeting wes þú hál, meaning "be you hale"—i.e. "be healthful" or "be healthy". Wassail is a hot, mulled punch associated with Yuletide, drunk from a'wassailing bowl'; the earliest versions were warmed mead into which roasted crab apples were dropped and burst to create a drink called'lambswool' drunk on Lammas day, still known in Shakespeare's time. The drink evolved to become a mulled cider made with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, topped with slices of toast as sops and drunk from a large communal bowl. Modern recipes begin with a base of wine, fruit juice or mulled ale, sometimes with brandy or sherry added. Apples or oranges are added to the mix, some recipes call for beaten eggs to be tempered into the drink.
Great bowls turned from wood, pottery or tin had many handles for shared drinking and decorated lids. Hence the first stanza of the traditional carol the Gloucestershire Wassail dating back to the Middle Ages. Wassail! wassail! all over the town,Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown. At Carhampton, near Minehead, the Apple Orchard Wassailing is held on Old Twelfth Night as a ritual to ask the Gods for a good apple harvest; the villagers form a circle around the largest apple tree, hang pieces of toast soaked in cider in the branches for the robins, who represent the'good spirits' of the tree. A shotgun is fired overhead to scare away evil spirits and the group sings, the following being the last verse, Old Apple tree, old apple tree. Lamb's wool or lambswool is a variety of wassail made from ale, baked apples and spices. Next crowne the bowle full ofWith gentle Lambs wooll,Adde sugar and ginger,With store of ale too,And thus ye must doeTo make the Wassaile a swinger. Irish antiquarian Charles Vallancey proposed that the name "lambswool" was a corruption of the name of a pagan Irish festival, "Lamas Ubhal", during which a similar drink was had.
Alternatively, the name may derive from the drink's similar appearance to the wool of lambs. Ale is replaced by ginger ale for children around Halloween and New Year; this drink would be equivalent to beer or wine in many contemporary Western cultures. People drank it at social gatherings. "Come butler, come fill us a bowl of the best/... please God send our master a good cask of ale..." sung throughout the towns of the Germanic nations, sending good luck to one's master in the new year. In the cider-producing counties in the South West of England or South East England as well as Jersey, Channel Islands; the purpose of wassailing is to awaken the cider apple trees and to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the Autumn. The ceremonies of each wassail vary from village to village but they all have the same core elements. A wassail King and Queen lead the song and/or a processional tune to be played/sung from one orchard to the next. In some counties the youngest boy or "Tom Tit" will stand in for the Queen and hang the cider soaked toast in the tree.
An incantation is recited. A folktale from Somerset reflecting this custom tells of the Apple Tree Man, the spirit of the oldest apple tree in an orchard, in whom the fertility of the orchard is thought to reside. In the tale a man offers his last mug of mulled cider to the trees in his orchard and is rewarded by the Apple Tree Man who reveals to him the location of buried gold. British folk rock band Steeleye Span opened their third album "Ten Man Mop or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again" with an extended, minor-key version of "Gower Wassail," Tim Hart singing the traditional verses and the others joining the chorus; the British rock band Blur released a cover of the song, with each member taking a verse. The release was limited to 500 7-inch pressings, which were given out at a concert in 1992; the version of'The Wassailing Song' performed by Blur was adapted in a recording by The Grizzly Folk, who have stated that the arrangement bears a close resemblance to the'Gloucestershire Wassail'. In her song'Oh England My Lionheart', on the 1978 album Lionheart, Kate Bush sings "Give me one wish, I'd be wassailing in the orchard, my English rose."
The alternative rock band Half Man Half Biscuit from Tranmere, England included a song named'Uffington Wassail' on their 2000 album'Trouble over Bridgwater'. With its references to the Israeli transsexual Eurovision contestant Dana International, the Sealed Knot English Civil War re-enactment society, to the skier Vreni Schneider, the meaning of the songs title in this context is a little obscure. In 2013 Folk Rock musician Wojtek Godzisz created an arrangement of the traditional Gloucestershire Wassail wor
A textile is a flexible material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibers. Yarn is produced by spinning raw fibres of wool, cotton, hemp, or other materials to produce long strands. Textiles are formed by weaving, crocheting, knotting or tatting, felting, or braiding; the related words "fabric" and "cloth" and "material" are used in textile assembly trades as synonyms for textile. However, there are subtle differences in these terms in specialized usage. A textile is any material made of interlacing fibres, including carpeting and geotextiles. A fabric is a material made through weaving, spreading, crocheting, or bonding that may be used in production of further goods. Cloth may be used synonymously with fabric but is a piece of fabric, processed; the word'textile' is from Latin, from the adjective textilis, meaning'woven', from textus, the past participle of the verb texere,'to weave'. The word'fabric' derives from Latin, most from the Middle French fabrique, or'building, thing made', earlier as the Latin fabrica'workshop.
The word'cloth' derives from the Old English clað, meaning a cloth, woven or felted material to wrap around one, from Proto-Germanic kalithaz. The first clothes, worn at least 70,000 years ago and much earlier, were made of animal skins and helped protect early humans from the ice ages. At some point people learned to weave plant fibers into textiles; the discovery of dyed flax fibres in a cave in the Republic of Georgia dated to 34,000 BCE suggests textile-like materials were made in prehistoric times. The production of textiles is a craft whose speed and scale of production has been altered beyond recognition by industrialization and the introduction of modern manufacturing techniques. However, for the main types of textiles, plain weave, twill, or satin weave, there is little difference between the ancient and modern methods. Textiles have an assortment of uses, the most common of which are for clothing and for containers such as bags and baskets. In the household they are used in carpeting, upholstered furnishings, window shades, coverings for tables and other flat surfaces, in art.
In the workplace they are used in scientific processes such as filtering. Miscellaneous uses include flags, tents, handkerchiefs, cleaning rags, transportation devices such as balloons, kites and parachutes. Textiles are used in many traditional crafts such as sewing and embroidery. Textiles for industrial purposes, chosen for characteristics other than their appearance, are referred to as technical textiles. Technical textiles include textile structures for automotive applications, medical textiles, agrotextiles, protective clothing. In all these applications stringent performance requirements must be met. Woven of threads coated with zinc oxide nanowires, laboratory fabric has been shown capable of "self-powering nanosystems" using vibrations created by everyday actions like wind or body movements. Textiles are made from many materials, with four main sources: animal, plant and synthetic; the first three are natural. In the 20th century, they were supplemented by artificial fibres made from petroleum.
Textiles are made in various strengths and degrees of durability, from the finest microfibre made of strands thinner than one denier to the sturdiest canvas. Textile manufacturing terminology has a wealth of descriptive terms, from light gauze-like gossamer to heavy grosgrain cloth and beyond. Animal textiles are made from hair, skin or silk. Wool refers to the hair of the domestic sheep or goat, distinguished from other types of animal hair in that the individual strands are coated with scales and crimped, the wool as a whole is coated with a wax mixture known as lanolin, waterproof and dirtproof. Woollen refers to a bulkier yarn produced from carded, non-parallel fibre, while worsted refers to a finer yarn spun from longer fibres which have been combed to be parallel. Wool is used for warm clothing. Cashmere, the hair of the Indian cashmere goat, mohair, the hair of the North African angora goat, are types of wool known for their softness. Other animal textiles which are made from hair or fur are alpaca wool, vicuña wool, llama wool, camel hair used in the production of coats, ponchos and other warm coverings.
Angora refers to the long, soft hair of the angora rabbit. Qiviut is the fine inner wool of the muskox. Wadmal is a coarse cloth made of wool, produced in Scandinavia 1000~1500 CE. Sea silk is an fine and valuable fabric, made from the silky filaments or byssus secreted by a gland in the foot of pen shells. Silk is an animal textile made from the fibres of the cocoon of the Chinese silkworm, spun into a smooth fabric prized for its softness. There are two main ty
Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and other animals, including cashmere and mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, from hide and fur clothing from bison, angora from rabbits, other types of wool from camelids. Wool consists of protein together with a few percent lipids. In this regard it is chemically quite distinct from the more dominant textile, cellulose. Wool is produced by follicles; these follicles are located in the upper layer of the skin called the epidermis and push down into the second skin layer called the dermis as the wool fibers grow. Follicles can be classed as either secondary follicles. Primary follicles produce three types of fiber: kemp, medullated fibers, true wool fibers. Secondary follicles only produce true wool fibers. Medullated fibers share nearly identical characteristics to hair and are long but lack crimp and elasticity. Kemp fibers are coarse and shed out. Wool's scaling and crimp make it easier to spin the fleece by helping the individual fibers attach to each other, so they stay together.
Because of the crimp, wool fabrics have greater bulk than other textiles, they hold air, which causes the fabric to retain heat. Wool has a high specific thermal resistance, so it impedes heat transfer in general; this effect has benefited desert peoples, as Tuaregs use wool clothes for insulation. Felting of wool occurs upon hammering or other mechanical agitation as the microscopic barbs on the surface of wool fibers hook together. Wool has several qualities that distinguish it from hair/fur: it is crimped and elastic; the amount of crimp corresponds to the fineness of the wool fibers. A fine wool like Merino may have up to 100 crimps per inch, while coarser wool like karakul may have as few as one or two. In contrast, hair has little if any scale and no crimp, little ability to bind into yarn. On sheep, the hair part of the fleece is called kemp; the relative amounts of kemp to wool vary from breed to breed and make some fleeces more desirable for spinning, felting, or carding into batts for quilts or other insulating products, including the famous tweed cloth of Scotland.
Wool fibers absorb moisture, but are not hollow. Wool can absorb one-third of its own weight in water. Wool absorbs sound like many other fabrics, it is a creamy white color, although some breeds of sheep produce natural colors, such as black, brown and random mixes. Wool ignites at a higher temperature than some synthetic fibers, it has a lower rate of flame spread, a lower rate of heat release, a lower heat of combustion, does not melt or drip. Wool carpets are specified for high safety environments, such as trains and aircraft. Wool is specified for garments for firefighters and others in occupations where they are exposed to the likelihood of fire. Wool causes an allergic reaction in some people. Sheep shearing is the process. After shearing, the wool is separated into four main categories: fleece, broken and locks; the quality of fleeces is determined by a technique known as wool classing, whereby a qualified person, called a wool classer, groups wools of similar gradings together to maximize the return for the farmer or sheep owner.
In Australia before being auctioned, all Merino fleece wool is objectively measured for micron, staple length, staple strength, sometimes color and comfort factor. Wool straight off a sheep, known as "greasy wool" or "wool in the grease", contains a high level of valuable lanolin, as well as the sheep's dead skin and sweat residue, also contains pesticides and vegetable matter from the animal's environment. Before the wool can be used for commercial purposes, it must be scoured, a process of cleaning the greasy wool. Scouring may be as simple as a bath in warm water or as complicated as an industrial process using detergent and alkali in specialized equipment. In north west England, special potash pits were constructed to produce potash used in the manufacture of a soft soap for scouring locally produced white wool. In commercial wool, vegetable matter is removed by chemical carbonization. In less-processed wools, vegetable matter may be removed by hand and some of the lanolin left intact through the use of gentler detergents.
This semigrease wool can be worked into yarn and knitted into water-resistant mittens or sweaters, such as those of the Aran Island fishermen. Lanolin removed from wool is used in cosmetic products, such as hand creams. Raw wool has many impurities; the sheep's body yields many types of wool with differing strengths, length of staple and impurities. The raw wool is processed into'top'.'Worsted top' requires strong straight and parallel fibres. The quality of wool is determined by its fiber diameter, yield and staple strength. Fiber diameter is the single most important wool characteristic determining price. Merino wool is 3–5 inches in length and is fine; the finest and most valuable wool comes from Merino hoggets. Wool taken from sheep produced for meat is more coarse, has fibers 1.5 to 6 in in length. Damage or breaks in the wool can occur if the sheep is stressed whil