The Sheep Project: recent results on skeletal maturation and morphometric variation in unimproved Shetland sheep

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  • The Sheep Project: recent results on skeletal maturation and morphometric variation in unimproved Shetland sheep

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Title


The Sheep Project: recent results on skeletal maturation and morphometric variation in unimproved Shetland sheep

Subject

S5-2, S6-3, General session, oral

Description

Abstract:

The sheep project was set up in order to investigate the effect of castration, breeding age and nutritional plane on measurements, epiphysial fusion and tooth eruption and wear in the sheep skeleton. The project, a collaborative venture between English Heritage and the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC), aimed at investigating the origins of the medieval wool industry, focuses on a population of 356 unimproved Shetland sheep evenly distributed between ewes bred at different ages, rams and wethers, raised on high and low nutritional planes. This paper discusses variation in bone measurements between sex and nutritional cohorts, age related change in bone growth, and the effect of breeding age and nutrition in ewes. The analyses show that metric variability (variance) is strongest in rams, with little difference evident between females and wethers, and with nutrition having less influence on variance in any sex cohort. The correlation between age and growth is lowest for females and highest for wethers, and more correlations are evident in low nutrition animals than in the high nutrition groups. The effect of nutrition varies between limbs and bone dimensions in the sex cohorts and between female breeding groups. Fusion consistently occurs first in ewes, then rams and is delayed in wethers relative to both. The influence of sex, nutrition and breeding on the archaeological interpretation of sheep husbandry from skeletal remains is critically discussed.

Authors:

POPKIN Peter1, BAKER Polydora2, WORLEY Fay3, HAMMON Andy4, PAYNE Sebastian5

Affiliations

1 4 St. Davids Road, Portsmouth, P05 1QN, ppopkin@gmail.com
2 Environmental Studies, English Heritage, Fort Cumberland, Fort Cumberland Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO4 9LD, UK, polydora.baker@english-heritage.org.uk
3 Environmental Studies, English Heritage, Fort Cumberland, Fort Cumberland Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO4 9LD, UK, fay.worley@english-heritage.org.uk
4 English Heritage Yorkshire and Humber Regional Office, 37 Tanner Row, York Y01 6WP, andy.hammon@english-heritage.org. uk
5 Waterhouse Square, 138-142 Holborn, London, EC1N 2ST, sebastian.payne@english-heritage.org.uk

Creator

Popkin, Peter
Baker, Polydora
Worley, Fay
Hammon, Andy
Payne, Sebastian

Date

August 2010

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Citation

Popkin, Peter, Baker, Polydora, Worley, Fay, Hammon, Andy and Payne, Sebastian. " The Sheep Project: recent results on skeletal maturation and morphometric variation in unimproved Shetland sheep ," in BoneCommons, Item #1463, https://alexandriaarchive.org/bonecommons/items/show/1463 (accessed November 19, 2019).