Yes, They can if they are allowed access to an unlimited source of Grain. This is called by several names, Grain Overload, Sheep Bloat, and the Technical Name is Lactic Acidosis. Sheep stomachs are made for grass and grazing. Grain and supplements are given, for that purpose to be supplemented. They are made to be tasty and the sheep will overeat if allowed
Can Sheep Eat too Much
Yes they can, This is a problem that affects all ruminants. They have 4 stomachs. They are designed to be able to digest grass. The grain is feed to livestock as a way to make sure that they receive the total amount of nutrients they need. The grain is used for
- To deliver Vitamins and supplements
- To increase Meat and Milk production
- To give extra nutrients to Pregnant Sheep
- To finish Lambs for meat Production
Years ago, Our family had purchased a young Billy Goat for $5 at a livestock auction. I had bought it for our Children, as a pet. Our Girls immediately made it their pet. We went out and bought a collar and a leash. He made a wonderful pet.
It taught our Girls responsibility, they had to water and feed it. They did it excellently. Darlene was not quite so excited, the young Billy Goat loved to eat her Roses, loved to eat the Buds.
One day our middle daughter came running home, crying her Billy Goat had Blown up and died. The little guy was very smart. He had figured out how to get the container opened that we stored the chicken feed in. He ate until he got Grain Overdose and he died.
Sheep Bloat can be critical to a sheep farmer, you can lose animals in hours if not caught and immediate treatment gives. Lambs, Adult Sheep, any age of your flock can be stricken wit Sheep Bloat. Many times it can happen by accident
It is wise to spend a little extra time in sheep proofing some of your feed containers. Accidents happen but anything you can do to avoid the loss of any of your flock might prevent you from animal loos and financial loss. It takes time, care and excellent managing to raise a healthy flock. It can take only minutes to be in a critical situation. That way the hungry sheep will not eat his way into oblivion.
What Animal will Eat Until it Explodes
Most Ruminants need to be protected from eating too much Grain. Thes animals Digestive system was designed to be able to digest grass and foliage. The speed and time it takes, Sheep, cattle, and goats will not overhear if they are just eating these natural food sources
When Grain overload occurs when bacteria increases in the animal’s digestive system and the animal dies a very painful death of indigestion.
Grain can cause this, unlimited access to grain fields, Apples, Grapes, Bread can also cause this toxicity.
Do sheep Know When to Stop Eating
Sheep do not know when to stop eating. This is especially concerning if they have access to things they like and taste good to them.. Accidental access to unlimited grains, Alpha Fields, access to fruit. This farmer lost 83 Sheep by accident when the pushed down a fence and got into an Alfalfa Field.
Foods that Cause Bloat in Sheep
- Clover Fields
- Alpha Fields
- Cracked Grains
- Quick Food Transition. This can happen with people too, but a gradual food transition is wise to allow your flocks to become accustomed to new foods.
- If you notice and mix your own feeds, the sheep will pick out and eat the corn first, then move to the rest of the mixed feed.
Can a Sheep Overdose on Grain
Many times livestock are fed grains and supplements to help them get the vitamins and nutrients they need. Maybe your pastures are populated with low nutrient grasses, you can easily make sure your sheep have the nutrients they need through proper formulas.
The difficulty is when sheep are allowed themselves to decide how much of the good stuff they are allowed to eat. Grain Pellets and supplements are flavored and sweetened to encourage animals to eat the nutrients added to their feed. This can encourage overeating if they are not limited,
What is Lactic Acidosis
Sheep Lactic acidosis is when the sheep eat an abundance of carbohydrate s in the sheeps rumen. This ferments rapidly and causes a dangerous buildup of gas. It produces an abundance of lactic acid. This also slows down the digestive process
Wheat, Barley, cause it and in a lower amount from Oats and lupins. It happens quicker when the grain is cracked. This allows quicker digestion but in the case of sheep, bloat accelerates it.
Symptoms of Grain Overload
An observant farmer will spot the signs that an animal may be having difficulty with overeating grains. The seriousness of it depends on Quantity of Grain the animal has consumed. It will also depend on how accustomed to eating a high grain diet. If the sheep have been used to a higher grain diet. They will be able to tolerate grain overload.
Some of the Symptoms that are able to be observed
- Reduced Appetite
- Overly Quiet or Depressed
- Lying Down
- Dehydration and Extreme Thirst
- Sheep may be in Stomach pain, cramps
- Diarrhea may be present
- Causes Scours
- Droopy Ears
- Swollen Stomach area – looking like sheep is pregnant within hours.
Sheep Bloat is deadly because the increased pressure of the Gas – Creates internal pressure on the Sheeps Lungs and Heart. Eventually causing Death unless Treated
Remedies for Grain Overload
Depending on the severity of the sheep Overeating several options are available. It is always best to consult your Vet and follow his direction
Mild Case of Lactus Acidosis
- If the animal is still eating, continued eating of hay will allow the sheep to gently eat his way clear of it. Removal of The feed that caused it
- Feedlot animals can have their feed ratios changed, dropping grain content of their mixed feed
- This should continue for two – Three days to see if improvement takes place
- Encourage animals to eat roughage, hand feed if necessary to help them work through it
- Drench Sheep with 1 Gallon of normal Rumen Fluid ( Drenching is where you manually, force a medicine or fluid down a sheep’s throat. for relief, worm control, etc
- Drench with Sodium Bicarbonate
- Give sheep milk magnesia
- Antibiotic Injections
- Steroid injections
Severe Case of Grain Overload
Please do not ignore because you can loose your sheep and it is a very painful way to die.
- Call your Vet – if animals are lethargic, carrying temp, subnormal temps
- Some Treatments for very Expensive Breeding stock should be handled by Veterinarian The May
- Surgically open the rumen, to remove contents
- Replacing Rumen fluid with 1 gallon of normal rumen fluid
- Intravenous injections of meds to treat acidosis and prevent dehydration
This treatment can also be very time consuming and labor-intensive, so can be very expensive.