Lamb and sheep are the same species; they are both kept and farmed for their meat and wool. Although many will use the word lamb and sheep interchangeably, they are different from each other! So what are the key differences between sheep and lamb?
The main difference between sheep and lamb is the age of the animal. A sheep is considered a lamb when it is less than a year old. Lamb meat is favored over mutton due to its tenderness and taste, while mutton contains more fat and tastes gamier. Lamb leather and wool are preferred over sheep.
Read on to discover the difference between sheep and lamb, the different types of lamb and mutton, and where their leather is used.
Is A Lamb The Same As A Sheep?
A Sheep and a lamb are the same breed of animal. A lamb is an offspring (baby) of a sheep; thus, a baby sheep is called a lamb. A female sheep is named a ewe, and a male is called a ram. A sheep must be younger than 12 months to be considered a lamb.
A lamb develops into a sheep when it is a year old (12 months). Even though the defining factor between a lamb and a sheep is their age, other individualities set them apart. It is these individualities that make lamb so much more popular than sheep.
What Is The Size Difference between Lamb And Sheep?
Lambs are sheep that are under a year old, so they are smaller and weigh much less than sheep. When a lamb is born, they weigh between 5 to 10 pounds and reach 110 to 140 pounds at 10 months old. Lamb becomes a sheep when they reach 12 months. A sheep can get 3 feet in height and weigh up to 350 pounds at 24 months.
Lamb (under 10 months)
Lamb (10 months old)
Ewe (female sheep)
Ram (male sheep)
13 to 70 lb.
70 to 120 lb.
220 to 290 lb.
260 to 350 lb.
Lamb vs. Sheep: Age and Weight
What Is The Difference Between Lamb And Mutton?
Sheep meat is called mutton, and lamb meat is called lamb. Mutton contains more fat, has a darker appearance, and has a stronger, gamey taste than lamb. Lamb has a milder texture and taste with a light to pale pink color.
Lamb meat is favored by many due to its soft, tender meat and milder taste. This is the reason for the vast price difference between lamb and mutton. Lamb is, on average, 60% more expensive than mutton. There are different types of lamb available, each with a unique flavor and texture.
The milk-fed lamb is between 4 to 6 weeks old and weighs 14 to 20 pounds. This lamb has not been weaned from its mother. The flavor and texture of a milk-fed lamb is finer and slightly sweeter than older lamb. This type of lamb can reach exceptionally high prices and is often sold as a whole carcass. It is popular during the Easter period when it is commonly spit-roasted.
The Spring lamb is a milk-fed lamb between 3 to 5 months old and weighs 40 to 60 pounds. These lambs are born in early spring to late winter. The Spring lamb is very tender and has a much milder taste than older lamb.
The Sucker lamb is a milk-fed lamb that is 7 to 8 months old that has not been weaned from its mother. This lamb has more meat than the Spring lamb and can weigh 60 to 100 pounds. The meat tastes similar to normal lamb, but it has more fat.
Yearling mutton comes from a sheep between 12 to 20 months old. It is not considered lamb, but it has a similar taste and texture with slightly more fat. A yearling sheep can weigh between 140 to 220 pounds.
4 – 6 weeks
3 – 5 months
7 – 8 months
10 – 12 months
12 – 20 months
20 months +
14 – 20 lb.
40 – 60 lb.
60 – 100 lb.
70 – 120 lb.
140 – 220 lb.
220 -350 lb.
Lamb vs. Sheep: Types of Lamb and Mutton
The Difference Between Lamb And Sheep Leather?
Lamb leather is commonly referred to as lambskin leather. The same goes for sheep leather; it’s called sheepskin leather. Both kinds of leather are made from the hides of young sheep (over 12 months of age) or lamb.
The key difference between the two kinds of leather is that lambskin leather is softer, lighter, and more flexible than sheepskin leather. Lambskin leather is more expensive and more delicate to work with compared to sheepskin leather.
Sheepskin leather is much thicker, stronger, and more durable than lambskin leather. However, it is heavier and less flexible, making it more difficult to shape and work with. Most customers will be unable to differentiate between the two types of leather. The same can be thought of for the marketing aspect of this leather. In many cases, lambskin leather and sheepskin leather are used interchangeably.
Common uses for sheepskin and lambskin leather are jackets, skirts, dresses, and pants. This leather is also commonly used in footwear, handbags, and other fashion accessories.
The Difference Between Lamb And Sheep Wool?
Lamb and sheep wool are obtained from the fleece of a lamb and sheep. The main difference amid the two types of wool is the age of the sheep it is taken from. Lamb wool comes from lambs between 8 to 12 months old, while sheep wool is taken from sheep older than 1 year.
Lamb wool is typically softer, lighter, and finer than sheep wool, which is often coarser and heavier. The texture of both types of wool is similar, with lamb wool being slightly more delicate.
The price of lamb wool is higher due to its softness and finer texture making it more desirable for luxury items such as clothing and accessories. However, the price of sheep wool can exceed the price of lamb wool. The price will be attributed to the quality, origin, and availability of wool.
The final influence on the price of wool is in manufacturing the wool itself, rather than if it’s from a lamb or sheep.
The difference between sheep and lamb is the age of the animal. Lamb meat is more sought after due to its tenderness and flavor, while mutton has more flavor and a more gamey taste. The same is for wool and leather, the lamb is more in demand. But it becomes harder to distinguish between lamb and sheep leather and wool as the manufacturing process plays a pivotal role in pricing.
The main reason that the price of lamb is so much more than sheep products is that a lamb is small, young, and all the products derived from it can only be crafted once. A sheep offers a few years of financial returns before it sees the slaughterhouse.