• Chapter Ten: Handling and Restraint of Small Ruminants

      McLennan, Krista M.; Chapman, Stella; University of Chester; University Centre Hartpury (Wiley, 2017-11-03)
      Sheep (Ovis aries) were one of the first mammals to be domesticated by humans; however the exact timeline of events has been unclear. The use of mitochondrial DNA testing has recently made it possible to trace back the ancestry of many animals including cattle, horses, pigs and goats and evidence suggests that the number of wild progenitors for these species is limited; however, with the sheep this is not the case and it is thought that a large number of wild ancestral species and subspecies exist (Hiendleder et al. 2002). Archaeological findings have traced the sheep back to 11000 and 9000 BC in Mesopotamia, with the most common hypothesis being that Ovis aries descended from the Asiatic (Ovis orientalis) species of mouflon. Many studies have looked at the ancestry of sheep and there has been conflicting evidence with regards to the numbers of ancestors. It is now thought that three major groups of Eurasian wild sheep (mouflon, urial and argali) are the ancestors of the domestic sheep and it is these groups that are believed to have contributed to specific breeds (Hiendleder et al. 2002).