What Sheep Eat and How Much This Guide will Explore all aspects of Feeding your Sheep. The Nutrition They Need and what types of Pastures make the best Feed for your Flocks. We are also going to look at how to feed your sheep if you are using them for weed control. Also what types of Pastures are Toxic to your Sheep Flocks.
What Sheep Eat and How Much / Can Sheep Live on Grass Alone?
Sheep can live on grazing on good quality Grass and Plants alone. If you Live in a climate where you have grass all year long.
If you have winter and time of the year Grass is dead then you will need to make sure that your sheep have the feed they need. Baled hay is good for winter. Even though Sheep are grazers they can survive on grass alone. It is good to provide salt Block for them to lick on.
You will also need to provide water. The sheep cannot get enough moisture from grass alone.
When Planting your Pastures it is wise to do some research on what Pasture is best for your sheep. Each Breed has strength and weaknesses. If you Check some of Your Breed associations it would be invaluable in finding what is best for You, Best for your Sheep. Here is a list of some common associations
Sheep Associations 10 Breeds of Sheep
|Breeds of Sheep||Country Origin||Purpose of Breed||Use||Ewe Weight||Association For Info|
|Suffolk Sheep||Britian / Suffolk||Fast Growing||Meat||250 - 350 Lbs||United Suffolk Sheep Association|
|Merino Sheep||Spain||Softest Wool||Wool||100 - 200 Lbs||American and Delane Merino Sheep Association|
|Hampshire||Britain||Best Tasting Mutton||Wool / Meat||200 Lbs||American Hampshire Sheep Association|
|Romney||England / Romney Marsh||Disease Resistance||Wool / Meat||225 - 275 Lbs||American Romney Breeders Association|
|Lincoln Sheep||England||Produce Longest Fleece In World||Wool||250 - 350 Lbs||National Lincoln Sheep Breeders Association|
|Dorper Sheep||South African||Fast Growing Meat||Meat||230 Lbs||American Droper Sheep association|
|Turcana Sheep||Romainia||Adapted Alpine Pasture||Wool / Milk / Meat||175 - 200 Lbs||?|
|Rambouilette Sheep||France||Strong / Hearty / All Climates||Wool / Meat||300 Lbs||American Rambouilette Sheep Breeders Association|
|Leicester Longwool||United Kingdom||Fast growing / Good Fleece||Wool||200 Lbs||Leicester Longwool Sheep Breeders Association|
- Your Breed of Sheep Breeders Association
- Your Local University Agriculture Department – extension Dept
- Contacting Sheep Feed Producers – They have Scientist on Staff – Like Purina
Mixing Your own Feed
These two examples, the first video shows you a larger Feed Mixing operation and the equipment they use. Buying Feed-in Bulk and Mixing it according to the various nutritional requirements of your flock depending on what stage in their lives they are in
Large Farm Mixing Feed
Many Large Commercial farms – Choose to mix their own Feeds it saves them a lot of money of being able to buy feed in bulk. It also allows them to Mix feeds according to their Specific Breed of Sheep. It also allows them to tailor feed according to the age and conditions of their flocks in a much more detailed scientific manner. Some of the specifics other than breed would be the age of where your flocks are at, some of the considerations are
- Lambs just finished Weaning
- Lambs Fast Growing to Butcher
- Ewes – Dry
- Ewes – Pregnant
- Ewes – Lambing
- Ewes Milking
- Ewes – Dry
Each one of these times in the lives of your Flocks Feed can be tailored to each stage that your sheep are in. This tends to take a Well Managed Direction to Raise your Flocks and greatly adds to profitability.
Today Farming is very Advanced and the Resources that Farmers Have are great from Feed producers to College Agriculture Programs.
Small Farm Mixing your own Feed
The Second farm is mixing the same but on much smaller scale. What is so creative with the second farmer is that they are using a Cement Mixer to Mix their feed which not only inexpensive but very creative. You can buy one for $ 200 – $ 400 depending on what Type you choose
Prevent Parasites – Rotating Your Pastures – Penn State Univ
Here is a List of Suggestions to help Prevent Internal Parasites in Your Flocks. This is important to farmers that are trying to be as Organic as Possible
- Parasite Eggs are Passed through Sheep Manure int Pastures
- Generally, eggs hatch into larvae and then larva die within 6 days
- Sub Divide your pasture into 4 – 6 Days of Pasture for your Sheep
- Then Move them into fresh Pasture and let parasite Larvae die
- Fencing can be movable electric, mesh. electric net
- Parasites can live for up to 120 days when weather is cool and moist – but die quickly when dry and hot
- Switching Livestock is wise because many og the internal parasites of cattle and horses are different – These are Called “Leader-Follower Systems”
- In Australia, there is an available National Sheep Improvement Program – which can examine the breeds resistance to internal parasites
Suggested Planting for Best Sheep Grazing
Looking and gathering the best information possible for your particular breed of Sheep. Will Help you understand some of the best grasses to pasture your flock in. You need to add to that the types of Pasture you have.
In Generality Check above categories for helping to decide what is best for your Farm. Sheep forage and graze for about 7 hours per day. The more nutritious your pasture is the healthier your sheep will be.
How to Feed Sheep used for Weed Control
Farmers use sheep flocks for weed control. This is a more natural way to manage controlling vegetation growth. It keeps a farmer from using chemicals – which are toxic and have lasting damage
Or using machinery to cut down brush, which is time-consuming and labor-intensive. But in looking at sheep for controlling vegetation.
They can turn weeds into Meat/ Milk and Wool
When Sheep are just solely grazing their nutrition levels can fluctuate. So adding supplements sometimes is wise. Here is a PDF from the University of Texas Ag Dept they suggest the following
- Supplements will depend on Condition of Sheep – Lambing, Lactating, Breeding, Lambs, Finishing Lambs
- It allows you to make sure that Sheep are getting their needed Vitamins, Trace Minerals, and Proteins.
- Using Pellets is Good you can have them mixed to your own formulas
|Supplements||Qualities of Supplement|
|Rice Hulls/Peanut Hulls||Not Much value – used as Fillers|
|Corn||Excellent Energy – Cracking recommended |
to Avoid Sheep Sorting
|Whole Oats||Excellent Energy|
|Grain Sorghum||Protein and Energy Supplement|
|Soybean Hulls||Excellent Energy Supplement – equal to corn |
Less possibility of Bloat
|Cotton Seed||Excellent Proteins, Good Phosphorus Content|
|Alfalfa Hay||Supplement and substitute for forage|
Sheep Livestock Rental Companies
Some farmers have even built business of Renting out their Flocks – for vegetation control. sheep love to eat Poison Ivy, kudzu, brambles and invasive vegetation. Sheep prefer grasses, woody plants close to the ground.
Goat herds will reach up higher on their back legs to get higher woody plants. This makes them more attractive for some Rental Situations
What Plants are Bad for Sheep
Here i a list of Plants that are Toxic to your sheep Flock. Many of these are fatal. Many of these can be found on fencerows. Also when cutting down brush making sure that they do not fall where sheep could get them
Toxic Plants for Sheep Pastures
|Toxic / Poisonous Plant||Symptoms / Characteristics|
|Garden Iris||Roots and stems|
|Holly||Berries - Diarrhea - vomiting - stupor|
|Morning Glory||hallucinogenic seeds|
|Rhubarb||Leaves - Convulsions and Death|
|Wild Cherry||Wilted Leaves have Cynaide - Convolusions, Rolling Eyes, Tongue hanging, animal dies within hours|
|Yew||Needle Like Shrub - vomiting, convulsions, animals Rarely survive this poisoning
|Oaks||Acorns, young trees - anorexia, constipation diahreah thirst gastro problems|
|Mountain Laurel||Same symptoms of Poiaoning. Vomiting, Diahreah, salivation - Usually fall into Coma and then Death|
|Rhododendron||Same symptoms of Poiaoning. Vomiting, Diahreah, salivation - Usually fall into Coma and then Death|
|Azalea||Same symptoms of Poiaoning. Vomiting, Diahreah, salivation - Usually fall into Coma and then Death|
many of these are found around Fence Rows
Fields Should be Checked
What Causes Sheep Bloat / Colic
Bloat in your Flock is caused by several items. It is simply a build-up of gasses that comes from eating too rich food.
Same as if we decide to eat Pepperoni Pizza right before bedtime. In Sheep
There are several types of Bloat in Sheep – they are
- Sheep Bloat – Caused by eating rich, lush pastures with too many legumes.
- Bloat in Lambs – Called Abomasal Bloat – Happens within 30 minutes of feeding warm milk – can result in 30% death in Lambs
- Frothy Bloat – Gasses are trapped fermenting foam
- can result in Death
Bloat Remedy – Baking Soda Mixed with Water
Best Types of Hay for Sheep in Winter
Many times the most economical ways to feed your sheep in the Winter. Many Farmers today are baling their hay with Round bails. When feeding your sheep it is more cost-effective to use round bales.
One of the difficulties is that the waste of hay for your sheep, instead of feeding it becomes trampled and turns into bedding and is wasted. This Video shows the Usage of Round bale feeders that you place the bales on. This prevents so much hay being wasted
Can Sheep get so Hungry They Overeat and Die
Yes, Sheep can overeat and die. Many times it is not grass, But if sheep have access to unlimited feed supplements they will overeat. Most farmers feed the supplement to the specifications of a formula.
This can happen to all ruminants.
What does my Sheep Need while she is Pregnant
- pasture, if adequate
- 3 lbs. of alfalfa or clover hay
- 3.5 lbs. of grass or mixed hay
What to Feed my Ewe while Lactating
- Pasture, if adequate
- 4.5 lb. alfalfa, clover or mixed hay
- 3 lb. alfalfa, clover or mixed hay and 1 lb. corn
- 2 lb. alfalfa, clover or mixed hay and 2 lb. corn
- 4 lb. grass hay and. 5 lb 14% commercial feed
- 3 lb. grass hay and 1.5 lbs. 14% commercial feed
- 2 lb. grass hay and 2 lbs. 14% commercial feed
What to Feed my Lamb for Fattening
- Pasture and 1/2 pound corn
- 2 lbs. alfalfa hay and 2 lbs. corn
- 1 lbs. alfalfa hay and 3 lbs. corn
- . 5 lb. clover, mixed or grass hay and 3.5 lbs. 14% commercial feed
Whats Best to Feed Ewe
- Pasture, if adequate
- 3.5 lbs. of alfalfa, clover, mixed or grass hay
Symptoms of problems with Feed
Here are some of the Symptoms your sheep might show if there is a problem with feeds
- Scours – diarrhea – Can be spotted in runny feces, feces soaked wool on Sheeps Bottom
- Lying on side
- Belly Bloat
- Excessive gas
- Glassy eyes
- Salivating Profusely
How Much and How Often My Sheep Need Water
Water is the as Important or maybe even more important than the feed. A sheep can live about 12 days before it will die from lack of water. There are many factors on how much water your sheep will need. Below is a table that gives you a broad idea.
But there are other variables you will need to consider
- The thickness of Insulating Wool Coat
- Dryness of Feed
Daily Water Consumption For Sheep
|Age of Sheep||Consumption Water per Sheep - Liters||Consumption Per Sheep - Gallons||Yearly Water Consumption / Sheep|
|Lambs - Weaned||2-4 Liters||1/2 - 1 Gallon||365 Gallons / Yr|
|Adult - Grass|
Adult - Brush
|2 - 6 Liters|
4 - 12 Liters
|1/2 - 1 1/2 Gallon|
1 - 3 Gallons
|547 Gallons / Yr|
|Ewes w/ Lambs||4 - 10 liters||1 - 2 1/2 Gallons||912 Gallons / Yr|
We have Written a Comprehensive Article on Commercial Sheep Farming