There are basically 4 categories (based on their purpose) of sheep: meat, milk, wool and pasture. The Domestic sheep (Ovis aries), is a four-limb ruminant bred for wool. It probably evolved from a wild mouflon of Central or Southeast Asia. This species is of great importance to the economy. Sheep and goats have a common name – small cattle. Nowadays, there are different kinds of sheep. Some are wild others are domestic (genus Ovis).
Mouflons (Ovis musimon) from Sardinia and Corsica were successfully domesticated in many parts of Europe – even in Slovenia. The Shapo or urial (O. Orientalis) lives on areas from Anatoli to Himalaya. Central Asia houses the largest sheep (O. ammon). In Pamir, a special kind of sheep evolved – Marco Polo Sheep (O. ammon polii). Two kinds of sheep live in the rocky mountain ranges of North America. Bighorn sheep (O. canedensis) was once commonly found in areas from Canada to the north of Mexico. Today they only live in inaccessible areas of nature reserves. Dall sheep (O. dalli) lives in areas from Alaska to the British Columbia.

Domestic sheep and goats are still important to people (wool, meat, milk…). We assume that they originate from the Southwest mountains of Asia. They changed the outlook of areas around the globe. In the Mediterranean, they had an important role of keeping the forest from spreading to pastures. In the wide open spaces of Australia and New Zealand, they still help to maintain pastures. All domestic sheep is categorized as one kind (O. aries) which branches into different breeds. Merimo sheep is famous for its quality wool. They originate from Spain but are currently spread around the entire world. In Slovenia, the Jezersko-Solčava, Bovec and the Romanov sheep (increasing the fertility and the number of lambs). We also know the Istrian pramenka.

Dusan Kreslin
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