People think that sheep, goats, cows, and other herbivore animals only eat grass. This is not wrong but they also can eat the other plants. If you are a new breeder or new fan of sheep, you may ask about what do sheep eat. And here is the answer.
Sheep Like To Eat Grass
Of course, the first place comes to grass. Sheep love grass just like goats and cows. But what kind of grass they want to eat?
1. Kentucky Bluegrass
One of the favorite and easy to grow grass is Kentucky bluegrass. It is about 20-24 inch height.
This kind of grass has great quality. It is also tolerant of dryness or flood. So if you have this kind of grass in your pasture it would be a great food resource for the sheep.
2. Smooth Bromegrass And Quackgrass
Then, sheep also like to eat smooth bromegrass and quackgrass. This is a common grass species that can grow in pasture naturally.
Smooth bromegrass is slow established and better to hay it than to let the sheep graze it. Because it will harder to regrowth after grazed.
3. Reed Canarygrass
From all types of grass, reed canarygrass is the hardest type to grow. The seed is expensive and needs more time to establish.
But it can grow until 5 feet if it is not grazed. it is also tolerant of dryness and flood just like Kentucky bluegrass.
The next type of grass is orchardgrass which is also easy to establish. After it grazed it will regrow quickly.
Make sure to choose a good variety of orchardgrass seed to give high-quality food to your sheep. The late-maturing variety is the most recommended for pasture. It also recommends to grow them not more than 30%.
5. Timothy Grass
What do sheep eat next is Timothy grass. They like it so much, but unfortunately, they can stay alive from 3 until 5 years.
Timothy will grow well in cold temperatures. The seed’s size is different from other grass. People usually mixed it with legumes seed. If this seed is mixed to the other type of grass’ seed, Timothy will be seeded first.
6. Tall Fescue Grass
Then, tall fescue is also what sheep eat effortlessly. This grass is easy to establish but hard to adapt to flood or dryness.
Make sure to choose the fungus-free seed. Because the fungus can make the grass contains alcohol which is dangerous to the sheep’s health.
What Do Sheep Eat Even Less
There are a lot of things they actually want to eat. But sheep naturally can choose what they want to eat when they see some kind of food or plants. Here are a few things they like to eat besides grass.
This is a non-grass plant and usually called a weed. Some forbs that sheep like to eat are broadleaf plantain, common mallow, dandelions, and etc.
Some of these forbs have stems, but sheep will skip it. They only eat green leaves and flowers. When they see the forbs and grass on pasture, they will choose to eat forbs more than grass.
Lucerne is one of the legumes that good for sheep. It can absorb more soil moisture even the land is lack of water. Lucerne is productive in late spring and early summer in the high country.
Then, the next legumes that sheep like to eat are clover. Some research said that annual clover and caucasian is good for sheep.
It also easy to establish. The annual clover can produce hard seeds before they die. So the seed will the growth immediately and produce more clover for sheep.
The legumes which consume by sheep can increase its weight. It also can help to produce lactate for the ewes.
Grains are one of the best foods you can give to sheep. This is also easy to store and does not need much place too.
Some of the best grains are wheat, barley, sorghum, and maize. Grains can help sheep to save more energy. This is a great energy source, just like what happens if humans eat it.
Please make sure to be careful when giving them grains for the first time. Too many grains, sometimes make the sheep sick. They even can get bloating.
The next important thing to what do sheep eat is water. All living things need water to stay alive. Sheep also need it too.
Normal sheep will need water from a half until 5 gallons per day. It depends on the weather, psychological, and physical conditions. If they eat a lot of grass or food which contains more water, they will drink less water.
5. Mineral Blocks
There are various types of the mineral block which is good for sheep. Actually, they do not eat it, but they just lick it.
They lick it to gather some minerals inside the block. Just like a human, sheep need minerals like calcium, copper, salt, and etc.
You can hang the mineral blocks in the barn wall. Or place the sheep salt licks near the water supply, hang it with a rope so the sheep will be easier to reach it.
How To Feed Sheep?
After knowing what do sheep eat, and what they need to eat. You need to know how to feed them. Here is a short review.
1. Let Them Eat-In Pasture
If you have a large land, you can make a pasture with a perfect mixture of some of those sheep favorite foods. You can grow some kind of grass and legumes, then let the sheep grazing there in the morning and afternoon.
Actually, the sheep don’t like to stay for a long time under the sun. So they like to go out for grazing when the sun is not so hot.
Let them choose what they like to eat because they can choose naturally what their body needs. Just trust them and don’t forget to keep the pasture green and fresh.
2. Chop The Grass And Feed Them
The next way is to chop the grass, make it as a haylage then store them. You can give it when they stay at the barn.
You can save it for a while, as food stock. They still like it if you can store it well.
Those long explanations about what do sheep eat can be a brief guide for a new sheep breeder. Raising animals may tricky, but it will be so happy to see them growing up and have lamb.
So even its hard, try to raise them by searching for new information every day. Then you will be a sheep expert later.