What Do Sheep Eat? A Complete List of Sheep Food

Maintaining a good number of sheep becomes easy when you follow a healthy diet chart for them.

Do you want to raise sheep herds in the large space of your premise? Then you must learn about the healthy and balanced diet of the sheep.

Indeed, a healthy diet is important for the sheep to prevent any significant medical issues.

Feeding without knowing the food quantity and types might cause serious medical issues. A sheep feed requirement per day is 3% of the overall weight of her body.

Whether you feed a small or heavy portion of food, you must maintain a balanced diet. But what do sheep eat?

The sheep can eat both the formulated and unformulated food. But I prefer to feed the natural food more than the formulated food to my sheep herd.

According to my experience, almost every sheep takes the grasses as their main food. But the hays switch the grasses when it comes to winter.

Don’t you believe it? Deep down to know it is true!

What Do Sheep Eat?

what do sheep eat

Nutrition is the biggest thing you must concern if you want to get a healthy sheep. The sheep can consume nearly all types of food that you might get naturally.

But, an ideal food chart contains all the nutrition that the sheep needs. So, what do sheep eat?

Like the other ruminant, the sheep can consume both the formulated and unformulated food. But, they love to consume natural food more than the formulated food. You just have to feed them based on the nutrition they require.

Feeding the grass is the secret of getting a healthy and good-looking sheep. Regardless of grass, the sheep also consumes some other leafy plants like Forbes, legumes, etc. But amongst all of the foods, the sheep mostly loves to eat the forbs.

What to Feed Sheep in Winter

Feed Sheep in Winter

In winter, the sheep depend on the hays instead of varieties of food. As there are available hays in winter, so managing the hays will be easier for the shepherd.

Unfortunately, not all the hays contain the same amount of nutrition and protein. So, you must keep varieties of hays in the food chart when choosing it for your sheep.

Different types of Hay:

The hays are found in different types particularly in winter. This is another crucial reason for its being an ideal food for the sheep. So, what do sheep like to eat in winter? Let’s check this out!

Alfa hay:

First, come to the Alfa hay that contains a high amount of fiber and vitamin A. It is the source of 120% of more energy than the regular food of the sheep.

The average amount of protein and crude fiber into the Alfa hay are 15%-21% and 32% consecutively. The amount of the fat and moisture are roughly 1.5% and 15% into the Alfa hay.

However, feeding access to Alfa hay may cause obesity to the sheep. Obesity leads the sheep to medical problems like kidney stones, urinary blockage, and so non.

Orchard hay:

Unlike the top hays, the orchard hay includes high fiber but low protein. That’s why the orchard hay is the perfect food for the winter season.

With 7% protein, 30% crude fiber, and 1.5% crude fat, the orchard hay is a good harvested food. Unfortunately, the orchard hay includes moisture less than 15%. So, you need to add the moisturized food item into the sheep’s food chart.

Timothy hay:

If you want to feed balanced quality food to your sheep, choose the timothy hay. This includes an almost similar amount of protein, crude fiber, and crude fat.

What Types of Treat Sheep Like to Eat?

Treats are the lightest food that the sheep likes to eat as a snack occasionally. Remember, you cannot feed the treat and snacks to your sheep regularly.

Now, let’s get the closest view at the different lightest but healthy treats of the sheep.

  • Apple
  • Carrots
  • Grapes
  • Rosemary 
  • Dill
  • Violets
  • Corns
  • Oats
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Soybeans
  • Bamboo
  • Black lotus
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash
  • Water lemon
  • lettuce

What Not to Feed Sheep?

Indeed, the sheep aren’t picky about the food. But there are some foods which are ideal for us but cause serious health issues to your sheep.

If you don’t know about those foods, you’ll risk the life of the sheep. So, let me show you the list of those foods that the sheep should never eat.

  • Cherry trees
  • Avocado
  • Chocolate
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Potatoes
  • Plum trees
  • Mountain laurel
  • Potato weed
  • Meat
  • Kale
  • Turnips
  • Unhealthy formulated food
  • Expired food
  • Rotten and damaged food
  • Mineral supplements of the other animals

How to Take Care of Sheep?

how do sheep take care of their young

Managing the first pair of sheep is difficult for everyone. But gradually, you’ll get habituated with the food habit and the nature of the sheep.

As a consequence, handing a bulk number of sheep won’t be difficult for you.

That’s because the sheep are cold animals, so they won’t bother you so much like other animals. Below, I have discussed the guidelines I follow to maintain my sheep herd.

By maintaining those guidelines, hopefully, you also can ensure a secure environment for your sheep.

Let’s start!

Ensure a secure habitation:

First off, build up a secure house for your sheep herd. Ensure the housing can protect sheep from different types of natural calamities but provides adequate air and warmth.

Feed clean and fresh water adequately:

Adequate clean and fresh water is the basic demand for all sorts of animals. A sheep can consume multiple buckets of hot and freshwater.

So, Provide clean and fresh, and hot water to your sheep. In summer, avoid giving hot water to your sheep.

Provide the nutritious food:

Try to maintain the nutritious food in the food chart of the sheep. If you live in a pasturing area, then getting natural and nutritious food won’t be so difficult.

Otherwise, make a food chart with the food that I have enclosed for you. Provide special treats and snacks to your sheep occasionally so that they don’t get bored.

Set up a fence:

Set up a fencing block around the house of your sheeps. This will protect your pet from the wild animals.

Also, make sure there is adequate space inside the boundary so that the sheep can pasture themselves.

Cut the wool of the sheep:

The sheep feel uncomfortable with the wool during the summer. Therefore, before the summer season, you must cut the wool of all your sheep.

To provide the sheep’s comfort all around the year, you better cut the wool twice a year.

Got Some Questions?

01. Do Sheep Eat Apples? 

Yes, the sheep can eat apples, although this isn’t their natural food. But it is one of those varieties of fruits and vegetables that the sheep’s rumen can handle.

However, the apple seeds are poisonous to the sheep. So whilst feeding an apple to the sheep, make sure they don’t eat apple’s seeds.

02. Can Sheep Eat Potatoes?

Yes, you can feed the raw potatoes to your sheep herd, but not the cooked potatoes. The cooked potatoes may cause serious problems for the livestock of the sheep.

The same thing is correct for the rotted, frozen, and decayed potatoes.

03. Can Sheep Eat Bread?

Most farmers try to feed bread to their sheep that contains fat. The fat of the bread isn’t good for the health of the sheep.

If you feed excess bread to your sheep, this might make the sheep seriously ill; nevertheless, feeding a little portion of bread won’t harm the health of the sheep.

04. What Fruit Can Sheep Eat?

The sheep can consume different sorts of fruits and vegetables, like pumpkins, water, lemon, apples, grapes, etcetera. But, instead of the fruits and vegetables, their peels are healthier for the sheep.

So, include the peels of the fruits and vegetables into the sheep’s diet chart.

05. Can Sheep Eat Broccoli?

Although vegetables and their peels are good for the sheep’s health, feeding broccoli isn’t good. The broccoli is a somewhat poisonous plant for the sheep.

06. Can Sheep Eat Onions?

It was believed, the sulfides of the onion can cause anemia and may lead the sheep to death.

But, according to the animal scientist Rick Estell, onion isn’t that harmful to the sheep. In fact, the high-quality sorghum of the onion helps the sheep to gain weight. 

07. Can Sheep Have Bananas?

Sheep have a good digestive rumen like cows and goats. So they can eat any type of fruit and vegetables, no matter whether it is banana or apple.

08. Can Sheep Eat Cabbage Leaves?

Cabbage is such a vegetable that makes the sheep infertile, and it cannot give birth to a child. Therefore, cabbage is on the food list, which the sheep mustn’t eat.

09. Is Lettuce Good for Sheep?

As a snack or special treat, lettuce is good food for the sheep. That’s because of the sheep and goats like the green leafy vegetables, like lettuce.

Moreover, this leafy vegetable contains a good amount of nutrients and antioxidants. Hence you can keep this food into the sheep’s regular diet like other nutritious food.

10. Can Sheep Live On Grass Alone?

The green grass comes with high-quality nutrition and energy. And as the sheep are ruminant animals, they don’t need varieties of food with different tastes. In a nutshell, they can live only grazing in the field of the grasses.

To Summarize

Lastly, if you ask, what do sheep eat, you’ll find multiple options of food. But not all foods are healthy and good for the sheep. Some food may lead the sheep to the door of death with various medical issues.

That’s why, before raising the sheep, you must know its food habit, which is a sensitive issue.

John Boyd

John Boyd has worked in U.S. Agriculture Industry for over 10 years. He now reports on the industry, aiming to give today’s producers up to date information about current and future issues. Read More

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