10 interesting facts about Merino sheep that will take you by surprise
Want to know more about Merino sheep? Here are 10 exciting facts about them that will surprise you!
- Merino sheep are a breed of domestic sheep whose scientific name is Ovis aries.
- According to different historical theories, they are believed to originate in Spain, somewhere around the 12th or 13th century. These days, most of these animals live in Australia and New Zealand, but also in other countries such as the United States or Ireland.
- Merino sheep are herbivore mammals and they mostly eat grass, legumes, and pasture plants, buy during the winter time when there is no fresh grass they can also be fed hay and grain. Similar to cows, deer, and goats, they are ruminants, which means that their stomach has 4 chambers!
- Thanks to evolution, Merino sheep have a 360-degree vision, which means that they can see who is approaching them from behind without turning their head! Other animals and birds that have such a type of line of vision include the chameleon, the American woodcock, and dragonflies.
- Merino sheep are most known for their wool. Due to the natural conditions that they grow and live in, with hot summers and freezing cold winters, these sheep have developed an incredibly thick woolen coat that helps them regulate their body temperature and survive during the sudden changes in the outside degrees.
- Their wool is so thin and luxurious, that back in the day Spain, being its country of origin, had monopoly over it, and those who exported or even tried to sell those sheep or their wool outside the country risked death penalty.
- In the same order of ideas, the famous Spanish traveler Christopher Columbus was descended from a family of wool merchants and it was exactly the country’s successful wool trade that funded his mission to discover the New World.
- Merino sheep don’t moult, which means that they need to be shorn regularly in order to live a normal life. Back in 1998, a sheep which was later named Shrek ran away from its farm in New Zealand and when it was finally caught in 2004, its fleece weighed 60 lb, which was enough to make 20 large sweaters for men.
- Speaking of sweaters, they are the most popular and sold clothing made of Merino wool all over the world. Especially popular are the Irish sweaters made of the wool of Merinos from Ireland. Due to the properties of the wool, these garments are resistant to water, odor, UV rays, as well as soft and comfortable, unlike the ones made of regular wool that tend to be very itchy. As Aran sweaters are authentic Irish garments and as they come in various colors, including green, they would make wonderful St. Patrick’s Day gift that will be cherished by your Irish friend. You can check more St. Patrick’s Day gifts here, including Aran sweaters. Other popular products made of this fiber include coats, scarves, hats, socks, as well as elements of home decor such as blankets, throws, and carpets.
- Last, but not least, there are around 34.2 million Merino sheep in New Zealand, and when compared to the country’s population of around 5 million people, there are almost 7 sheep for every New Zealander.