As one of the first animals to be domesticated, sheep have lived alongside humans for nearly 11,000 years. Sadly, sheep and lambs have primarily been raised and used as a source of meat, wool and milk — despite the fact that they have distinctive personalities, rich emotional lives and strong family ties.
Our latest undercover investigation, the first look inside a U.S. lamb slaughterhouse, has exposed egregious abuse of lambs by the nation’s largest lamb producer (read the breaking story from The New York Times).These incredible animals deserve so much better.
Did you know February is Lamb Lovers Month? We’re putting a sweet spin on this industry-declared occasion by highlighting some of the many reasons to love lambs (and sheep), not eat them.
- Sheep have exceptional memories. They can recognize the individual faces of at least 50 other sheep — and remember them for two years. Scientists have shown that they have specialized areas in the brain for face recognition, much like humans.
- Sheep communicate. Despite the belief that animals can’t speak, sheep (and other animals) do, in fact, communicate vocally. They use different sounds to express different emotions, and also recognize emotions through facial expressions. They cry out when in pain, and — like humans — have an increase in cortisol (the stress hormone) during difficult, frightening or painful situations.
- Sheep are doting mothers. They form strong bonds with their lambs and can recognize the sound of their individual calls when they wander away.
- Sheep weren’t always wooly. Thousands of years ago, the ancestors of domestic sheep had hair (not wool), which shed naturally during the spring and summer. Today’s sheep were selectively bred for wool, which does not shed, continues to grow and can weigh the animals down, cause physical problems if they aren’t shorn on a regular basis (usually annually).
- Sheep are social. While male sheep typically hang out in herds of 5-50 sheep at a time, female sheep often live in herds of up to 100 sheep and lambs.
There are so many reasons to leave sheep and lambs out of our shopping carts and off of our plates. Please watch & share our new investigation.
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