|Sheep: (Ovis aries) There are a number of different theories regarding the origins of domestic sheep. However, most sources agree that they originated from Mouflon (middle photo). There are two wild populations of Mouflons still in existence: the Asiatic Mouflon which is still found in the mountains of Asia Minor and Southern Iran and the European Mouflon which is found in Sardinia and Corsica. These two species are closely related with the only difference being the redder coloration and different horn configuration of the Asiatic Mouflon.
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|Some sources even hypothesize that the European Mouflon actually developed from the first domestic sheep in Europe being allowed to become feral and that all sheep are actually descendants of the Asiatic Mouflon. Sheep were among the first animals domesticated. An archeological site in Iran produced a statuette of a wooled sheep which suggests that selection for woolly sheep had begun to occur over 6000 years ago. The common features of today's sheep were already appearing in Mesopotamian and Babylonian art and books by 3000 B.C. Selection for wool type, flocking instinct and other economically important traits over the centuries has resulted in more than 200 distinct breeds of sheep occurring worldwide. Modern breeding schemes have also resulted in an increasing number of composite or synthetic breeds which are the result of a crossing or two or more established breeds. The Mouflon (Ovis musimon) is thought to be one of the two ancestors for all modern sheep breeds. It is red-brown with a dark back-stripe, light coloured saddle patch and underparts. The males are horned and the females either horned or polled. They now rare but have been successfully introduced into Central Europe, including Germany, Austria, Czech Repulic, Slovak Republics and Romania.
Goats: (Capra hircus) The goat, along with sheep, were among the earliest domesticated animals. Goat remains have been found at archaeological sites in Western Asia, such as Jericho, Choga, Mami, Djeitun and Cayonu, which allows domestication of the goats to be dated at between 6000 and 7000 B.C. However, unlike sheep, their ancestry is fairly clear. The major contributor of modern goats is the Bezoar goat which is distributed from the mountains of Asia Minor across the Middle East to Sind. Unlike sheep, goats easily revert to feral or wild condition given a chance. In fact, the only domestic species which will return to a wild state as rapidly as a goat is the domestic cat. The goat is managed for the production of milk, meat and wool, particularly in arid, semitroical or mountainous countries. There are more than 460 million goats worldwide presently producing more than 4.5 million tons of milk and 1.2 million tons of meat besides mohair, cashmere, leather and dung; more people consume milk and milk products from goats worldwide than from any other animal. Cheese production, e.g., from goat milk even in France, Greece, Norway and Italy is of economic importance. Goat milk is more easily digested than cow's milk and is valued for the elderly, sick, babies, children with cow's milk allergies, patients with ulcers and even preferred for raising orphan foals or puppies. Breeds of goats vary from as little as 20lb mature females up to 250lb. Goats can be genetically horned or polled, they can be short haired, long haired, curly hair, silky or coarse wool. Goats come in almost any colour, solid black, white, red, brown, spotted, two or three colours, blended shades, distinct facial stripes, black and white saddles, all depending on the breeding.