Sheep farming is practiced all over the world, and has been significant in the history of many civilizations.
There are over 500 different breeds of sheep around the world.
Their wool varies according to the breed.
The New Zealand Romney sheep, for instance, produces the best wool for making carpet.
The merino, in contrast, has soft, fine wool for clothing.
Sheep husbandry is practiced mainly in Australia, New Zealand, the South American nations, and the British Isles.
With the rise of corporate agriculture, and the decline of family farms, many breeds of sheep are in danger of extinction.
Preferences for sheep with uniform characteristics and fast growth have resulted in reduced numbers of heirloom breeds of sheep.
The few breeds that remain are maintained through the efforts of conservation organizations, and individual farmers dedicated to their preservation.