Quick Guide to Sheep Terms

Some of these terms are very old fashioned – but aren’t they wonderful!

Do you know any other terms we haven’t included? Let us know, and we’ll add them in.





  • Apern – Apron


  • To Back, To Cast – To get on its back and be unable to rise
  • To Belt, To Dag – To clean out withshears
  • Belt – Sheep scab
  • Bields – Shelters
  • Billy – Machine used in carding wool
  • Bing – Feed passage
  • Blackloss – Unaccountable losses
  • Blast – Blown (ie bloat or hoven)
  • Bleb – Tapeworm cyst as in Gid
  • Blindquarter – Nonfunctional udder
  • Bolting – Bundle of straw
  • Boost – Instrument for marking sheep (usually with hot tar), often bearing the owner’s initials
  • Bound Stock – Sheep acclimatised to a hirsel
  • Bratting – Put a jacket on sheep, usually hoggs, to protect them from cold in winter
  • Braxy – An intestinal infection arising from the sheep gorging themselves with food when newly weaned, or suddenly placed on rich or indigestible pasture
  • Breeding-in-and-in – In-breeding
  • Brokenmouthed – Some teeth missing
  • Brocket – Mottled
  • Buchts – Gathering pens (Border District)
  • Buisted – Marked (eg with tar) after shearing
  • Bursenbelly – Dropped belly


  • Cade – Hand reared lamb
  • Caroirich Big (“Little Sheep”) – Four-horned sheep indigenous to the Highlands
  • Cast Ewes – Old breeding ewes which are sold off hill farms to lower ground farmers who take one more crop of lambs off them
  • Chines – Part of the sheep’s body
  • Clarts – Dung attached to fleece, clags, dagging
  • Clatting – Removing wool from inside of thighs and around udder prior to lambing, also clag
  • Claughty Soil – Sticky soil
  • Claveau – Sheep pox
  • Clees – Claws
  • Cling – Diarrhoea
  • Co-fer – Food-chest
  • Collop – Stock unit for letting grazing – equal to three yearling cattle or one yearling plus one two-year old bullock or four sheep
  • Cotting – Faults in coarse wool fleece. Used in two ways, either clothing sheep to give winter protection or felting of the fleece; folding
  • Couples – Ewes and lambs
  • Crones – Old ewes
  • Crutch – Twist
  • Crues – Sheep folds
  • Cuckoo Lambs – Lambs born after middle of April (late-born lambs)
  • Cull Ewe - Finished ewes culled out for slaughter 


  • Dagging – Removing fleece from the udder or inside thighs, prior to lambing
  • Dal-o’-Goyt – Early name for Derbyshire Gritstone
  • Dartars – A disease of lambs
  • Diamond, Dinmont Ram, Dinmont Tup – Shearling ram
  • Dipper – Dipbath
  • Dipstick – Stick for measuring bath contents
  • Dishley, Dartmore, Notts, Heath, Dunfaced – Original breeds of sheep (Dishley has become today’s Leicester)
  • To Draw Lambs – To assist in delivery
  • To Draw Ewes – To select for making up groups
  • To Dock – To cut the tail or clean out the rear parts
  • Double, Couples – Twins
  • Drove, Droving, Drover – Flock, driving, driver
  • Dunt – Gid


  • To Ean, To Yean – To give birth to a lamb
  • Eild or Yeld Ewes – Barren ewes
  • Euk, Suint, Yokr, Yolk – Yolk (yellow soap material secreted by the skin into the fleece)
  • Ewe - Female sheep of breeding age, may be qualified as maiden ewes, not yet bred, or ewe lambs, up to one year 


  • Faggs – Ticks
  • Fanks – Gathering pens (Mid-west Scotland)
  • Fank – Sheep pens
  • Farwelted – When a sheep is stuck on its back
  • Fat Lambs - Finished ready for slaughter from approx four months old onwards
  • Flyblown – Fleece laden with maggot-fly eggs
  • Foresters – Type of black-faced mountain sheep found in Wales and West
  • Fors – Hairs mixed with wool in the fleece
  • Forsing – Dressing “fors” out of wool
  • Fountain – Iron pot fitted with brass tape for supplying hot water 


  • Gaffer, Guv’nor, Maister – Master
  • Gentles – Maggots
  • Gid – A disease od sheep, characterised by vertigi; the staggers.  Caused by the presence of the Cnurus, a larval tapeworm, in the brain.
  • Gig, Goggles, Turn, Turnstick Dunt, Thorterill, Pendro – All terms for Gid
  • Gigots, Braxy Hams = Hams from sheep infected by braxy
  • Gimmer – Regional term for a young ewe that has not yet born a lamb
  • Gin – Trap
  • Glat – Gap in hedge
  • Glatting – Repairing gaps
  • Gleamy and Dagley – Maggoty weather
  • Goggles – Gid
  • Gostrel – Small cider barrel for daily supply
  • Grimetface, Mule – Greyface


  • Haggerill Heeder – Ram lamb
  • Half Long – Cheviot ram x Blackface ewe
  • Hammel – Some sort of small shed, Ram lamb
  • Heft – Part or section of Hirsel (about five Hefts in each Hirsel)
  • Higham striking – Another name for “Putrid” fever
  • Hindering weather – Damp
  • Hirsel – Piece of ground and flock looked after generally by one shepherd
  • Hog, Hogg, Hoggerel, Hogget – Castrated male sheep usually 10 to 14 months old. Also used to describe an uncastrated male pig
  • Hoggerel, Tup-Hog – Hogget
  • Hovel – Stock building 


  • Inbye – Land fenced between fields and open hill
  • Intake – Improved pasture taken in and fenced from hill 


  • Jobbers – Dealers 


  • Kades, Kaids – Keds (skin parasite)
  • Keds - skin parasite
  • Kemps – Coarse hairs
  • Kindly bred – Term used of superior Shetland Island sheeptop


  • Lachan – Light brown colour of sheep in the Highlands
  • Laid Sheep – Sheep which have been salved
  • Laid wool – Wool discoloured by the use of salves containing tar
  • Lamb Bed, Wither, Wether – Terms for uterus
  • Lambs - Young sheep still with its dam (mother) or up to five months of age. Qualified as ewe lamb or ram lamb
  • Laughton, Loghtan – Term used to describe colour of Isle of Man sheep (brown colour)
  • Leaf – A disease of lambs
  • Ley – a field covered with grass or herbage and suitable for grazing by livestock
  • Linton – Alternative name for Heath sheep
  • Lugmark – Ear mark
  • Lunky – A hole in a wall large enough to admit one sheep at a time (see Smout) 


  • Maid – A ewe teg that has been to the ram but has proved barren
  • Marden layers – Young leys
  • Mardy – Stupid, off-colour, sickly
  • Milk-clipping – Shearing the milking ewes
  • To Mind – To remember
  • Mugg, Mugs – Breed of Northumberland sheep, early name for Wensleydales
  • Mule – Cross bred sheep, sired by Bluefaced Leicester
  • Murret, Murrett – Moor red colour of fleece
  • Mutton - The meat of older sheep, including cull ewes 


  • Parrot-Mothed – Malformation of the mouth
  • Paterish – Gid
  • Pinning – Scouring
  • Pirls – Small knots of woolas in Wensleydale
  • Pug – Teg
  • Pinds – Sheep folds


  • Raett – Fold for sheep
  • Ram - Entire male animal that has reached sexual maturity at around six months
  • Ray – Sheep scab
  • Rigwelted - sheep - overturned. A heavily pregnant, broad backed ewe may roll over and be unable to right herself. She is rigwelted
  • Rise - A sign that sheep are ready for shearing. The previous winter's greasy wool is lifted away from the skin by new wool that is much easier to cut. The Rise is seen as a yellowish line
  • Rounds – Circluar walls built t o protect sheep from snow drifts
  • Rubbers – Sheep scab 


  • Salving, Smearing – Treating sheep with a mixture usually tar and butter, to protect against cold (or parasites)
  • Scouring – to have diarrhoea
  • Set-to – A “set-to” is an orphan lamb given to a foster mother
  • Shab – Sheep scab
  • Shearling – A young sheep between its first and second shearing
  • Sheeder – Female lamb
  • Shots – Culls or small lambs
  • Shuttle-Cobbed – Malformation of the mouth
  • Smout - A hole in a wall large enough to admit one sheep at a time (see Lunky)
  • South Dum – South Devon sheep
  • Speaning - Northern term. Weaning, especially of lambs.
  • Spiv Ewe – A ewe in low condition that willnot fatten
  • Staggers – Gid
  • Stell – Circular stone wall, roofless shelter
  • Stells - Circular stone wall, roofless shelter (Northumberland)
  • Store Lambs - Lambs not sold during the summer for slaughter may be kept for sale or feeding on as store lambs
  • Stretch or hurdles – Five or six wattle hurdles with stakes and shackles
  • Sturdy – Gid
  • Swaddles – Swaledale sheep 


  • Tag – Sheep scab
  • Teg - A young sheep in its second year or before its first shearing
  • Theaves - Regional term for a young ewe up to first lambing
  • Thrunter – Three year old ewe
  • Thorter III – Gid
  • Tup – Male sheep, usually an entire breeding male ram
  • Turnstick – Gid
  • Twinter – Two year old ewe


  • Under-Hung - Malformation of the mouth 


  • Vanquish, Vinquist – Pining or pine disease (a cobalt deficiency resulting in weight loss) 


  • Wether, Wedder – Male sheep castrated at an early age before secondary sexual characters have developed
  • Wick – Maggots
  • Wrees – Gathering pens (SW Scotland) 


  • Yel or Yale Ewe – South Scotland term for barren ewe (see also Eild or Yeld Ewe)
  • Yow - A slang term for a female sheep




For further sheep husbandry and management information, see our DVD series 'Sheep on Your Smallholding'.