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Ewe vs. Sheep: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 7, 2024
A "ewe" is a female sheep, while "sheep" refers to the species, encompassing both genders and all ages.

Key Differences

Ewe specifically refers to adult female sheep. It's used when distinguishing gender within the sheep species. In contrast, sheep is a general term that includes males, females, and young of the species.
In farming and animal husbandry, understanding the difference is crucial. Ewes are primarily kept for breeding and wool production, while the term sheep can include rams (males) and lambs (young sheep).
The word ewe denotes the reproductive role in the flock, as they give birth to lambs. On the other hand, sheep is a broader term that encompasses the entire group irrespective of their roles or ages.
When observing a flock, one might identify ewes by their physical characteristics and behaviors, especially during lambing season. Sheep, in its broader application, refers to the whole group seen grazing in a field.
Linguistically, ewe serves a more specific function in English, often used in agricultural and rural contexts. In contrast, sheep is a more universally understood term, used in both specific and general contexts.

Comparison Chart


Female only.
Includes both males and females.


All ages, from lambs to adults.

Role in Flock

Primarily for breeding and wool.
Includes breeding, wool, and meat.

Linguistic Usage

Specific, used in farming context.
General, used in various contexts.

Physical Characteristics

Often smaller than males, no horns.
Varies, includes all physical types.

Ewe and Sheep Definitions


An adult female sheep.
The ewe is nursing her lamb.


Includes both rams and ewes.
The flock of sheep is diverse.


Part of a breeding pair in sheep farming.
They bought a new ewe for the flock.


A source of meat (lamb/mutton).
Sheep are also raised for their meat.


A grazer in pastures.
The ewe grazes alongside the rams.


A wool-bearing livestock.
They raise sheep for wool.


A wool-producing animal.
The farmer sheared the ewe.


A domesticated ruminant animal.
The sheep are in the field.


A mother to lambs.
The ewe is protecting her young.


Used metaphorically for followers.
He called them his sheep.


A female sheep, especially when full grown.


A domesticated ruminant mammal (Ovis aries) having a thick coat, raised in many breeds for its wool, edible flesh, or hide.


A member of a people inhabiting southeast Ghana, southern Togo, and southern Benin.


Any of various wild ruminant mammals related to and resembling the domestic sheep, such as the aoudad, bighorn sheep, and mouflon.


The Gbe language of the Ewe people.


A female sheep, as opposed to a ram.


The female of the sheep, and of sheeplike animals.


A member of a people living in southern Benin and Togo and southeastern Ghana


A Kwa language spoken by the Ewe people in Ghana and Togo and Benin


Female sheep


Can ewes have horns?

Generally, ewes are hornless, but some breeds may have small horns.

What is a ewe?

A ewe is an adult female sheep.

What's the primary role of a ewe?

Ewes are primarily for breeding and wool production.

Can a ewe be a lamb?

No, a ewe is specifically an adult.

Is "sheep" used in singular and plural?

Yes, "sheep" can be both singular and plural.

Do all ewes have lambs every year?

Most ewes breed annually, but it can vary based on health and breed.

Can sheep recognize individual humans?

Sheep can recognize and remember individual human faces.

Are all sheep ewes?

No, sheep include males (rams) and young (lambs) too.

How do you identify a ewe in a flock?

Ewes are usually smaller and gentler than rams.

What does the term sheep encompass?

Sheep refers to the entire species, including males, females, and young.

Are all sheep used for wool?

Most sheep are raised for wool, but some breeds are primarily for meat.

Are sheep intelligent animals?

Yes, sheep are known to be quite intelligent and have good memories.

Do ewes need special care compared to rams?

Ewes require specific care, especially during pregnancy and lambing.

Are all sheep white?

No, sheep come in various colors, including black, brown, and spotted.

How are sheep beneficial to humans?

Sheep provide wool, meat, and even milk, contributing to various industries.

What's the lifespan of a ewe?

Ewes typically live around 10-12 years.

How many lambs can a ewe have at once?

Ewes usually have 1-3 lambs at a time.

How do farmers distinguish ewes from rams?

Besides physical differences, farmers may use tags or markings.

What are the common breeds of sheep?

Popular breeds include Merino, Suffolk, and Dorset.

Do ewes participate in flock leadership?

Yes, older ewes often lead flocks due to their experience.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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