Monday, June 3, 2013

What Sheep Eat

Sheep are part of the ruminate classification of animals. Like cows they have 4 chambers in their stomach. Sheep are mostly grazers.

At birth the lambs rumen and reticulum are  not yet functional. They start to nibble on dry feed which stimulates the development of the rumen and reticulum. This is why the lamb needs to eat creep feed.
At around 2 weeks old the lamb can be introduced to the creep feed. Creep feed is highly digestible for the lamb, it is feed that has been ground, cracked, rolled, pelleted for the lamb. Lambs cannot digest whole grain this is why they need creep feed. At around 60 days old their rumen and reticulum are fully functional. The lambs that are fed creep will have quicker rumen development than the lambs that are only feeding on forage.

Sheep are natural grazers, they eat grass, forbs, clover  hay, silage and weeds. When you are introducing grain to sheep and lambs you must do it slowly. They will produce too much lactic acid which can be fatal for the sheep if they eat too much grain or if they are introduced to grain feed too quickly.

Sheep love forbs, it is their first choice when they are out  pasture grazing . Forbs are  flowering plantS. Sheep will graze on the pasture for about 7 hours a day. They also consume alot of water they must always have access to fresh water.

Sheep are fed grains as a supplementary feed. Grains are the seed part of cereal crops such as oats barley corn. The grains are usually fed to pregnant ewes, ewes that have young lambs and when a ewe needs to put on weight.

Whole grain is better for the sheep than processed grain. They will have less stomach upsets with the whole grain.
Sheep chew the cud.Chewing the cud is when a food bolus is regurgitated, rechewed and reswallowed.

Sheep are also fed supplementary minerals that are purchased in farm supply shops to make up for anything lacking in their diet. Supplementary minerals can be fed in a powder form or from a mineral lick bucket. The mineral lick bucket is convenient as the sheep can take a lick when they feel the need.



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