Finding and Buying Sheep

How can I tell how old a sheep is?

 You can tell approximately how old a sheep is by looking at its teeth. Sheep have four pairs of incisors on their lower jaw, a dental pad (no teeth) on their upper jaw, and grinding teeth on the back part of their jaw.
  • When lambs are born, they have four pairs of baby or "milk" teeth.
  • When they are approximately one year old, the middle pair will be replaced by a pair of permanent incisors.
  • When they are two years old, they will have two pairs of permanent incisors.
  • By age 4, they will have four pairs of permanent incisors.
  • After age 5, their teeth will begin to spread apart, break, then fall out.
Teeth problems are one of the reasons ewes may be removed from a flock. A sheep with no teeth (approximately 10 years of age) is called a "gummer."

(Reprinted with permission by Susan Schoenian, Editor, Maryland Sheep and Goat Producers)