HOW TO ESTIMATE AGE OF GOATS & SHEEP
Figuring out the general age of goats and sheep can be accomplished in a couple of ways. The breeder can tell you when the goat or lamb was birthed or you can look at their teeth!
If you look inside your goat or lamb’s mouth, you’ll be surprised to see that they do not have teeth on the top gum! But amazingly, this top gum is pretty tough and they are able to browse around and nibble on leaves and branches with ease.
Goats and lambs both have a total of 32 teeth. Most of the teeth are in the back of their mouth used for grinding up their feed.
Another surprise is that goats & lambs are born with teeth (also known as milk teeth). They will begin to lose their milk teeth around age one. These small teeth are an easy indicator of age and this is why the veterinarian at the fair health check will examine the mouth to see the teeth. This is how they determine the age and ensure that your project is not too old to compete. Most fairs have age limits on the market animals. If you are asked to show your goat or lamb’s teeth in a class, this is how you open the mouth to show the teeth.
The teeth of goats, sheep and horses continue to grow with age. There is an old saying “Yea….they were a little long in the tooth” which is another way to say that they are old!
AVERAGE LIFE SPAN
- Does & Ewes= 11-12 years is the average age if the doe is bred continually. Our doe was retired from breeding around age 10 when we saw that she was having a tough time kidding. It appeared to be really hard on her. It is said that these does with good health can live up to 16-18 years.
- Wethers= 11-16 years average age
- Bucks & Rams = 8-10 average age – bucks usually live shorter lives due to the stresses of breeding season (also known as rut).