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Sentient Sheep: Page One

To add interest I have interspersed this commentary with thought provoking quotations from Religious Sacred scripture, philosophers, ethicists, and other notable thinkers both past and present.

For ease of reading all quotations appear in a purple font

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Sentient Sheep Page Two

During the course of a Sunday lunch we happened to look out of the kitchen window at our young lambs playing happily in the fields. Glancing at our plates, we suddenly realized that we were eating the leg of an animal who had until recently been playing in a field herself. We looked at each other and said, "Wait a minute, we love these sheep--they're such gentle creatures. So why are we eating them?" It was the last time we ever did.
Linda and Paul McCartney

This section of the gallery is a little different as I have selected photographs which I hope convey the fact that sheep, like all animals, are sentient. As with all the pages in the photograph gallery, along with quotations and short commentary, there is a selection of wallpaper and other photographs for you to download. Before downloading please read instructions and conditions of use if you have not already done so. At the present time there are two pages of photographs and comments in this section more, will be added as they become available.

Firstly what is sentience?

Here are some definitions of sentience:

The possession of consciousness or sensory awareness. Sentience is the ability to feel or perceive subjectively. The term is used in philosophy (particularly in the philosophy of animal ethics and in eastern philosophy) ...  A living being which is capable of experiencing pain and suffering.
Self-aware, choice-making consciousness. It is unethical to cause a sentient to feel pain needlessly.

More definitions:
Define:sentience - Google Search


The life spark in my eyes is in no way different than the life spark in the eyes of any other sentient being.
Michael Stepaniak

Recently whilst surfing the net I came across a shocking article in the Times:
Japanese scientist claims breakthrough with organ grown in sheep

“We have made some very big advances here. There has historically been work on the potential of sheep as producers of human blood, but we are only slowly coming closer to the point where we can harvest sheep for human organs,”
Professor Hanazono quoted in The Times

I am against  animal abuse of any kind and to my way of thinking there is something quite sickening about this.

In addition to my shock at such an atrocity against another species was the fact that among the fifty or so comments on the forum from where I located the link to the article there was only one person who thought that this was unethical. Moreover, amidst the silly jokes many of the comments stated that as sheep were not sentient, using them to grow human spare parts was therefore acceptable.

Are sheep sentient? Of course they are, look at these photographs, if a sheep was not sentient would he or she look back at you, would your eyes meet, would he or she recognise you as someone who brought her food last winter and follow you about as was the case of a sheep recently.

Below you will find a gallery of photographs of Sheep who are clearly sentient such as this delightful creature who followed us around hoping for some food. You can read more about her here


The soul is the same in all living creatures, although the body of each is different.

Look at the photographs which follow, these animals are aware and indeed as curious about us as we are about them. Sheep show affection for one another and have best friends. Sheep can be defensive particularly when protecting their lambs and have been known to challenge dogs, even sheep dogs as we once witnessed recently when a farmer had to come to the dog's rescue from a ewe defending her lamb.


Rough fell sheep live in some of the bleakest parts of the country in hilly or mountainous terrain. The two sheep in the photograph graze in the low fell pastures in Cumbria a few miles from the town of Kirkby Stephen. We often visit here and take photographs and with few exceptions sheep will turn their attention your way as you photograph them. If you park your car they may approach with curiosity.


Click the graphic to access a larger image 

but the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own morsel, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter
The Bible: Samuel 12.3


Mothers defend their lambs quite vigorously, sometimes when taking photos all ewes in the field will turn our way and approach us with loud and persistent bleating. Most certainly they are aware of our existence and consider us a threat.

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There is no difference between the pain of humans and the pain of other living beings, since the love and tenderness of the mother for the young are not produced by reasoning, but by feeling, and this faculty exists not only in humans but in most living beings.
Maimonides: Guide for the Perplexed

Here again sheep are certainly sentient enough to know how to acquire a tasty snack. This ewe circled the car peering in hoping for a tasty treat.

It is really not considered good for sheep to be fed on bread and similar food as it can give them diarrhoea. But she is difficult to resist and at the time we were not aware of this problem.

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There is not an animal on the earth, nor a flying creature on two wings, but they are people like unto you.
Qur'an, Al-An`am 6:38

Four New Photographs: Affectionate Sheep

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Affectionate Sheep

Sheep have friends, they show affection for one another in many ways such as one sheep laying his head upon the back of another sheep. We observed these two sheep who were obviously friends for they kept close company. At one time as they were sitting side by side in the afternoon sun of one of the companions laid his head upon the back of his friend. This is quite a common occurrence.

You can download this photograph sized as desk top wallpaper

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Sheep often display affection by rubbing heads as in the case of these two Swaledale Rams who shared a field with the Blue faced Leicester rams above

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You will also find more photographs of these friendly couples at full size included in our flickr photostream: sheep rub heads to show affection on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Monogamous ram.
Firstly the red ochre is applied to the
chest of a ram so that  he will leave a mark on the ewes who he breeds with so the farmer is able to tell which have bred and may bear lambs in the spring.

At the time this photograph was taken none of the other ewes in the field had this red mark.  The ram it appears has eyes only for this ewe and like a faithful husband he remained with her following her everywhere totally ignoring about a dozen other ewes


Here they sit side by side

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I saw a muskrat come out of a hole in the ice ... While I am looking at him, I am thinking what he is thinking of me. He is a different sort of man, that's all.

I saw deep in the eyes of the animals the human soul look out upon me. I saw where it was born deep down under feathers and fur, or condemned for a while to roam four-footed among the brambles I caught the clinging mute glance of the prisoner and swore that I would be faithful.
Henry David Thoreau

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Shame on such a morality that is worthy of pariahs, and that fails to recognize the eternal essence that exists in every living thing, and shines forth with inscrutable significance from all eyes that see the sun!
Arthur Schopenhauer


Important please note:

I am not an animal expert of any kind just your average person who loves animals, all animals, and feels deeply about the plight of many of our fellow creatures. Neither am I a writer, or any other expert. Therefore please keep in mind that the information included in this website has been researched to the best of my ability and any misinformation is quite by accident but of course possible.

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