INCISORS ENABLE YOU TO TELL A SHEEP’S AGE
QIs it true that you can age sheep by their teeth, or is it just a myth?
Kingsley says: It is perfectly true that sheep are aged by their teeth. The average life expectancy of a sheep is 10 to 12 years, although some sheep may live as long as 20 years, but I haven’t come across any that have reached this admirable milestone. Sheep have molars along the sides of their jaw, top and bottom, but they only have incisors at the front bottom of their mouths — they have no top front teeth. It is these incisors that enable you to tell the age.
When a lamb is born, it already has teeth emerging through its gums, and one or two temporary incisors can be felt or will be visible. By the time the lamb is six weeks old it will have eight milk incisors. From a year to around 18 months of age the two central incisors fall out and are replaced with larger permanent teeth and the sheep is known as two-tooth. From approximately 18 months to two years the next two baby teeth will fall out and the sheep will have four large incisors, and is known as a four tooth. From two to three years the sheep will have six large incisors and is a six tooth. By the time a sheep is four years of age all its baby teeth will be eight large incisors and it is full-mouthed. Over time a sheep is likely to lose some incisors and it is called broken mouthed. Buying broken mouthed sheep can be a cheap option for smallholders who may get one or two crops of lambs from them, but be sure that they are in good body condition and are able to eat properly to get enough nutrition for themselves and their lambs.
Sheep incisors are at the front of the mouth