The secret lives of sheep.

Learn more about the secret lives of sheep.
Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated 8 December 2021

From frolicking lambs, to escape artist sheep — if you look beneath their woolly exterior you’ll find these unique individuals are full of character and a few surprises…

[A] study showed that ewes fall in love with rams, have best friends and feel desolate when those close to them die or are sent for slaughter.
Jonathan Leake
Science Editor

Leake continues: “The discovery could have important implications for the way farm animals are treated.”

1. Sheep are clever

Like dogs, sheep can learn their own name and even do tricks. Australian researchers have discovered sheep can solve mazes, and get quicker at doing so the more they practice. Amazingly, a flock of sheep in the UK even figured out how to cross a hoof-proof grid by rolling over it to reach tastier grass on the other side!

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2. Sheep are playful

Lambs love leaping, head-butting and running around with friends. Much like the ‘play-bow’ dogs use, lambs have their own special signal when they want to have fun. They’ll kick their back legs in the air as if to say “let’s play!”

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3. Sheep have great memories

Sheep can recognise at least 50 individuals’ faces and remember them for years. They can also tell if other sheep (and humans) are happy, or sad, stressed or calm by reading facial expressions!

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4. Sheep have best friends

Sheep have unique personalities and some get along better than others — just like we do. Not only will a sheep form special friendships with other individuals, researchers believe she may even spend time thinking about her friends when they’re not around.

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5. Sheep may be more like us than you think

Author, Jeffrey Masson, recounts the story of Rammo — a young ram he met in Missouri, who became the guardian for a blind calf named Whisper. He would graze next to his friend and guide her around. When Whisper died, Rammo stood by her body, calling and calling.

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Sheep and lambs need your help!

Thanks to the actions of a brave whistleblower, the world now knows the extent of routine, extreme suffering endured by sheep and lambs on-board live export ships.

Join hundreds of thousands of people who are speaking out for these gentle, affectionate animals here.