Banner Sheep

Natural History

Domesticated sheep (Ovis aries) have been used in agriculture for thousands of years for their milk, meat, and wool. They originated in Mesopotamia around 10–800 B.C. and spread throughout Europe and eventually to the New World. As sheep spread worldwide, different breeds were developed depending on climate, terrain and type of industry for which they were used. Today, there are 1,000 breeds worldwide, with 50 breeds in the United States alone.

Maymont is home to Blackface sheep, which you would find on a Virginia farm. The Blackface sheep is an old breed also originating from Scotland; today, they make up the majority of sheep in the United Kingdom and are known for their ability to produce higher volumes of milk, meat, and, most importantly, preferred wool for the textile industry.

Ovis aries



Grasses, grains and plant material

Rams are 150-175 lbs & about 4 ft long. Ewes are 115-130 lbs and about 4 ft long.

Agricultural areas worldwide

Fun Facts

  • Maymont's sheep enjoy being fed the feed that is available to purchase at the Maymont Farm.
  • Sheep will learn their names and come when you call them.
  • They have four ‘stomachs’! Sheep are ruminants which means they are able to digest tough plant materials.
  • Sheep manure is great for gardening because it has more nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium than cow or horse manure.
  • Many European cheeses are made from sheep’s milk: roquefort, romano, and pecorino are a few.
  • A female sheep is known as an ewe. A male is called a ram and a castrated male is called a wether. A young sheep (usually less than 14 months old) is called a lamb.
  • Domestic sheep live about 10-12 years.
  • Maymont is home to Blackface sheep, which is a breed of sheep originating from 12th century Scotland. Today, Blackface sheep make up about 35% of the sheep in the United Kingdom.

Adopt an Animal

Did you know it takes $500,000 each year to feed and care for the animals at Maymont? Your support of the Maymont Adopt an Animal Program helps provide food, care and enrichment to keep the rescued animals active, healthy and engaged.