Determining the Age of an Animal
This animal is less than a year old because all the baby teeth are intact.
This animal is a year old. Note the first pair of permanent teeth in the middle of the lower jaw.
Sheep, goats and cattle all have front teeth on the lower jaw and a dental pad on the upper jaw. They also have molars for grinding their food. These molars are located on both upper and lower jaws in the back of the mouth.
As an animal matures, larger permanent teeth will appear on the lower jaw. A new pair of teeth will appear for each year of an animal's life. A total of four pairs of teeth can be found in the front and by comparing the size of the teeth, you can determine an animal's age. An animal less than a year of age will have all small baby teeth. As the animal approaches a year of age, the pair of teeth in the middle will fall out and be replaced by larger permanent teeth. At age two, the animal will have two pairs of teeth, at age three the animal will have three pairs and at age four the animal will have four pairs. Once the animal has reached four, it is considered mature.
Using teeth to determine age won't tell you the birth date of an animal, however it can give you a general idea of the age of an animal. Most animals will cut a new set of teeth within a month or two of their birth date, so it can be a useful tool for estimating the age of an animal.