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Can Sheep Swim?

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As adorable animals that are commonly kept as livestock, sheep are one of the first animals that were domesticated by humans. This animal is smart, and known to have equal brainpower with monkeys.

On any day, you may usually see them feeding on grass, and like most livestock, they may drink water from the river.

However, you may be wondering, what if they accidentally slipped and fell in the water? Will they be able to swim? We’ll find the answer in this article.

Can sheep swim?

Sheep can swim and float in water, but it would be uncomfortable especially if they have a full coat of wool. So, if they accidentally slip and fall in the water, they can manage to keep their head above the water, while their legs continuously move.

flock of sheep near the river

If, in any case, the water rises in the area where they rest, they will assemble together and swim as a flock.

How far can sheep swim?

There is no exact data of how far sheep can swim mostly because they aren’t really born to be swimmers. They don’t even compete in any swimming activities. Lol. Rather, they only swim if they really need to.

One thing is certain: these animals are not long-distance swimmers. Their bodies are not built for swimming, and they may easily tire out from paddling, which can cause them to drown.

Do sheep like to swim?

As mentioned earlier, sheep can swim, but they don’t like it. It’s not because they’re afraid of water, but mainly because they’re not good at it. Unlike dogs who love playing in the water, sheep spend most of their time munching on green pastures.

Sheep would not swim for fun, instead, only when necessary.

Some reasons why they would swim is when they need to escape threat or danger, when they want to move from one place to another, when they find a better pasture, when they’re led by their shepherd or herded by a sheepdog, and when they see a prospective mate and would want to go closer to her.

Are sheep good swimmers?

By now, you know that sheep are not good swimmers, although they can do some strokes, such as the basic horse trot or the dog paddle. In addition, they can also float.

However, their fluffy thick coats can make it hard for them to move in the water, which adds up to the challenges they face when swimming.

Are sheep waterproof?

Sheep are waterproof mainly because they produce lanolin – a natural oil substance that acts as a lubricant. Lanolin protects their wool from tangling and matting.

Because the lanolin repels water, sheep won’t easily absorb water from the rain. However, when swimming, the sheep’s wool can get soaked, which may cause danger especially if they have heavy wool on.

sheep at the beach

Do sheep shrink when they get wet?

Perhaps you have a wool jacket or a sweater that you use during cold weather. You may notice that it shrinks whenever it gets wet, so you try very hard to clean it with care.

Now, you’re probably thinking that sheep shrink when they get wet. After all, the wool that’s used for your jacket comes from their coat. However, that is not the case.

Clothing that’s made up of wool shrinks because during the production, the lanolin present on the wool is removed and separated. Unlike in sheep, whose coats are intact and repel rain since the lanolin is still present in their wool.  

Can sheep drown?

Although they do know how to swim, like all other animals, sheep can also drown. Possible reasons why they would drown are:

  • if they get exhausted while swimming
  • if their thick wool gets too heavy because of the water
  • if the currents are too strong for them to handle
  • if their body or wool gets stuck on the rocky part of the waterway
  • they are not natural swimmers

With that being said, if you see a sheep swimming, you might need to know why they are doing that since they are not really fond of swimming, and therefore they might need your help.

And that’s it for today’s article. I hope you found this article helpful and if you did, feel free to share it with your family and friends. Who knows, maybe you, or they, can save a sheep’s life!