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Ag Mag

SHEEP Welcome to the Sheep Ag Mag!

We’re going to go on an adventure and discover the inside scoop on sheep.

Look for badges like this as we explore! Sheep help keep the environment healthy! • Sheep graze on brush and weeds in forests, which helps prevent forest fires3. They also graze on weeds in vineyards and other farmland acting as a natural weed controller so farmers can use less herbicides.

• Farmers work hard to make sure their sheep protect the environment. They do this by carefully grazing their sheep to protect water and avoid overgrazing. • While 2/3 of wool is used to make clothing, the rest of it has some other interesting uses4! • Wool is used to make blankets, insulation for home construction and even absorbent pads for cleaning up oil spills. • Wool is an excellent sponge for petroleum products. Just like you can soak up water on the counter with a sponge, wool can soak up oil from an oil spill. It can soak up over 12 times its weight in oil!

An agricultural magazine for kids.

Counting Sheep Sheep come in many different sizes, shapes and colors. Farmers classify sheep into different breeds based on their similarities. There are more than 1,000 different breeds of sheep in the world.1 That’s more than any other kind of livestock! In the United States we raise about 40 breeds of sheep, but some of the most popular ones are pictured to the right. 2


Since there are so many breeds of sheep worldwide, farmers also classify them by what they’re used for. For example there are meat breeds that are grown for their tasty American Lamb and wool breeds that are grown for their wool fibers.




Sheep products are everywhere! Besides wool and meat, sheep also provide humans with lanolin.5 Lanolin is also called wool wax. In nature it protects a sheep’s wool and skin from the elements. Humans use it in products to protect our skin as well! Almost all cosmetics, like lipsticks, mascara, lotions, shampoos and hair conditioners contain lanolin.

Fun Fact: Sheep are the oldest domesticated meat species. Humans domesticated them over 9,000 years ago!

Turning wool straight from sheep into fabric you can wear is quite a process. Let’s take a look!


Sheep are typically sheared in the spring, or before they lamb.6 They have their wool removed in one piece called a fleece. Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt –it’s just like getting a haircut!

Fleece is washed in big tubs to remove dirt, lanolin and grass in a process called scouring. The clean, dry wool is then combed to straighten the fibers. This is called carding.


Lastly, the yarn is knit or woven into fabric.

Knitting/ Weaving Now, the wool is spun into yarn. Coarser wool is spun into woolen yarn, which makes carpets or thick sweaters. Finer wool is spun into worsted yarn to make lightweight fabrics for dresses.


Activity: Making Wool Marbles

Now that we know how wool fibers get processed, let’s experiment with what we can do with wool by making felted wool marbles.7 Materials Needed Towels, mild soap or baby shampoo and wool roving in fun colors. 
 Steps 1. Cover the table or counter you’ll be working on with towels. 2. Fill a large bowl half full of warm water and add a spoonful of soap. 3. Tear the wool roving (bundle of fiber) into 3”4” lengths. 4. Put a few lengths in your hand and roll them into a tight ball. 5. Dip the ball in the bowl of soapy water until it is completely wet. 6. After the fibers are wet, remove the ball from


the water and gently roll it around in your hands. The wool ball will get smaller and tighter the more you roll it. 7. You can add more fiber and repeat the steps until your marble is as big as you want it! 8. When your marble is the size you want it, rinse it in cool water in the sink then roll it one more time to squeeze out extra water. 9. Let your marbles dry on a towel. 10. Use your wool marbles to play a fun game with your family and friends!

SHEEP An agricultural magazine for kids.

Sheep by the Numbers

Do you know your states? Look at the table that lists the top 10 sheep-producing states. Using the following code, color the map by how many sheep are in each state.

Color-code Less than 200,000 200,000-299,000 300,000-399,000 400,000-499,000 500,000-599,000 Over 600,000

Top 10 Sheep-Producing States State

Number of head


Number of head





















South Dakota


Who protects sheep? Several different types of animals guard sheep from predators who could harm them. Farmers commonly use: dogs, donkeys and even llamas!

Just a few reasons to have lamb for lunch 4 American Lamb is good for you and fits well into a healthy lifestyle!

4 Lamb cuts are lean; many have less than 200 calories. 4 American Lamb is an excellent source of Protein, Vitamin B12, Niacin and Zinc and a good source of Iron.

4 Protein is important for our bodies to build tissue and repair

worn out cells. One serving of lamb provides you with almost half of the protein you need in a day!

SHEEP An agricultural magazine for kids.

Activity: Research about a Guardian Animal Choose which guardian animal is the most interesting to you. With the help of an adult, go online and research some information about your animal. Capture your information in the space below. The website: is a great place to start!


Activity: Let’s cook! Crispy Lamb and Potato Stir Fry10 Ingredients: 4 large potatoes,
2 tablespoons olive oil,
 1 clove garlic,
3 teaspoons rosemary,
1 pound lamb sirloin, sliced Directions: (1) Wash, peel and cube potatoes. (2) Boil until just tender. (3) Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a fry pan over medium high heat. (4) Add potatoes and stir-fry until crispy and golden. (5) Remove and drain on paper towel. (6) Add remaining oil, garlic and rosemary, then add lamb slices in batches. (7) Stir fry about 2-3 minutes until lamb is tender and remove. Repeat until all lamb is cooked. (8) Add potatoes back in and stir well.


Career Spotlights The sheep industry creates tons of jobs. For every 1,000 sheep, 18 jobs are created! 11 Let’s check out a few and see if they interest you…

Range Managers

Textile Designers

Wool Broker


Range managers study and protect rangelands so humans can use their resources without damaging the environment. They work with soils, plants and animals and look at how they work together to form an ecosystem.12

Textile designers create designs that use different fabrics. They make designs for clothing, home furnishings or even industrial workers uniforms.

A wool broker acts on behalf of sheep farmers to help them sell their products and make the most money they can. If you like numbers and math, being a wool broker might be for you!

A shepherd manages the day-to-day care of a flock of sheep. With the help of a guardian animal, they protect the sheep from predators on the range. They may help with lambing, docking and shearing.

Now that we know a little bit about different careers, let’s meet a few people who actually work in the industry! Greg Ahart

Isaac Matchett

Stanley Strode

National Director, Producer Relations

Co-Owner Operator

Wool Manager

Matchett Sheep Farm

Mid-States Wool Growers Cooperative Association

Superior Farms Davis, Calif.

What do you do?

I work with sheep producers to figure out their “pain points”–things that make their job difficult. Other than price and weather, I work to try to make things easier for people who raise sheep. I do this by working with organizations, associations and by lobbying in Washington, D.C., for laws that support sheep farmers. To be successful in my job, you need to be able to work on many things at one time (multi-task) and use deductive reasoning.

What did you do when you were younger that helps you with your job now?

I raised sheep growing up, which caused me to have an interest in the industry. But it was really my inquisitive nature that brought me to this job. I wanted to learn about the process of the sheep industry. I wanted to learn about the entire operation, including marketing.

What is your favorite part about your job?

The direct interaction I have with producers is my favorite part. I also like knowing that I am working to make a positive difference for other people and for the sheep industry.

What do you want the public to know about the American sheep industry?

The American sheep industry is really cool! There is more than meets the eye when it comes to sheep. Sheep have a phenomenal story. They are unique because they generate food and fiber. They are so much cooler than most people realize. Standards Addressed The following standards identify general standard areas. Additional, specific standards that fall within these areas may also be addressed. Career Development, National Career Development Association K-6 3.0 Helping Pupils Understand Career Applications of Subject Matter (K-6th Grade)

Charlevoix, Mich.

What do you do?

What do you do?

What did you do when you were younger that helps you with your job now?

What subjects in school help you most at your job?

I farm with my father, Tim, and brother, Noah. I look after the health and well-being of the flock. I help when baby lambs are born and move sheep from one pasture to the next each day. I give medicine to ewes or lambs if they become sick. In the winter, when pasture is not available, I give the sheep hay and grain to make sure they have a healthy diet. We also farm the land and take care of equipment.

I use almost every school subject! Everything I do revolves around math. It is a very important tool to our business, whether it is bookkeeping, balancing a ration, figuring out how much seed to plant or determining the yield of a field after harvest. Science helps me to understand the plants and animals that I care for each day. I also use what I learned in English when I read a tractor repair manual or the latest article on lambing, or when I communicate with others.

What do you want the public to know about the American sheep industry? The greatest desire at the heart of any shepherd, when it comes to his or her sheep, is to properly care for the needs of their flock in a way that works in harmony with the environment that surrounds us.

National Social Studies and History Standards, National Geographic Society NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms National Fine Arts Standards, Consortium of National Arts Education Associations NA-VA.K-4/5-8.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques and Processes (K-8th Grade)

Sheep Info 101 (2011). Counting Sheep. American Sheep Industry Association. (2012). Learning about Sheep. 3 American Lamb Board. (2010). Fast Facts. 4 American Sheep Industry Association. (2012). Sheep and Waste Management. http://www. 5 Sheep Info 101 (2011). This Little Lamb Went to Market. html 6 American Sheep Industry Association (2012). Wool. 7 Wiley Crafts, John Wiley & Sons Inc. (2010). Felted Wool Marbles. 1 2


Canal Winchester, Ohio

I am responsible for getting wool from the farm to our warehouse, where we prepare the wool to be sent to mills. I arrange the trucking needed to move the wool. Once the wool is in the warehouse, I am responsible for grading and sorting it so that buyers get shipments of wool that are similar. Wool is classified into different grades, and I work to put wool of the same grade together.

Math is important because I work a lot with numbers, specifically when I am weighing wool. I also learned a lot from my agribusiness classes in high school. I was a member of the Morgan Local High School FFA Chapter in Morgan County, Ohio, and this helped me understand the agriculture industry in the United States. English is also very important because I often write letters and must use correct grammar.

What is your favorite part about your job?

My job is interesting because I like working with sheep producers and wool buyers. It is nice to get out and visit people who have the same interests that I do.

What do you want the public to know about the American sheep industry? Wool is a renewable fiber because sheep grow wool every year. It makes good, all-around clothing because it is non-flammable and keeps you warm, whether it is wet or dry.

NA-VA.K-4/5-8.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines (K-8th Grade) National Science Standards, National Academies of Science NS.K-4.3/5-8 Life Science (K-8th Grade) NS.K-4.6/5-8 Personal and Social Perspectives (K-8th Grade) Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts Writing Standards: Research to Build and Present Knowledge 7.0 (3rd, 4th, 5th Grade) Reading Standards: Foundational Skills, Phonics and Word Recognition 3.0 (3rd, 4th, 5th Grade)

8 United States Department of Agriculture, National Agriculture Statistics Service (2012). Sheep and Goat Report. 9 American Lamb Board. (2010). Nutritional Information. 10 Easy Kid Recipes (2011). Lamb Recipes for Kids. 11 American Sheep Industry Association. (2010). Sheep Industry Creates Jobs. http://www. 12 New York Ag in the Classroom Foundation. Ag Career Cards. resources/pdf/career/RangeManager.pdf

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