Can Sheep Eat Blueberries?

Sheep Eat Blueberries

Sheep are not picky eaters hence can feed on a variety of feedstuff. With the current increase in cost of feed, this proves highly valuable. Farmers can make use of various feed supplements that are readily available as a means to counter the exorbitant cost of commercially produced supplements and additives. However, it is of the utmost importance to have sufficient knowledge on the nutritional value of the feed in question versus the requirements of sheep. That being said, among the nutritious feed supplements used as sheep feed are blueberries. Due to their superior nutritional value and medicinal properties, it has been established that sheep can feed on blueberries. If the feeding system is properly management, health and production is maintained thus allowing for a successful agricultural venture.

Nutritional Value

Sheep can eat blueberries for various reasons. Blueberries are known for their nutritional value hence are highly recommended to humans. Fortunately, their nutritional benefits can be transferred to animals, including sheep through consumption. According to research studies, sheep can feed on blueberries without experiencing adverse effects on growth, health, production as well as reproduction. Blueberries are low in carbohydrate but high in fibre, vitamins and trace elements. They also contain a group of flavonoids that are needed for the prevention of oxidative stress. While sheep can eat blueberries to absorb these nutrients, a common practice is to graze sheep in blueberry orchards as a means of managing weeds and increasing blueberry yields. There is currently very limited research on whether sheep can eat blueberries for improved meat and wool production. However, it has been established that sheep can feed on blueberries to reduce the costs of managing land. This practice basically involves allowing sheep to graze on blueberry orchards. They eat the weeds on the land thereby allowing for proper growth of plants. Since sheep can eat blueberry without experiencing negative effects on growth and development, production, health and reproduction, they are ideal for managing weed in farmers across the globe.

Use of Blueberries As Sheep Feed

As already noted, it is not a common practice to make use of blackberry for livestock feed. Blackberries are normally grown for human consumption. Various research studies have been conducted on the nutritional benefits of the fruits and it has been revealed that blackberry has medicinal properties. This justifies its use mainly as food for humans. While sheep can feed on blueberries for these health benefits, they cannot compete with humans thus it is an uncommon practice. As already mentioned, they are mainly used to manage weed so that the plants grow well. For this reason, there is a very limited amount of research conducted on whether sheep can feed on blueberries for improved performance. Nonetheless, testimonials for various farmers across the globe sate that sheep can feed on blueberries without any adverse effects on health. As a matter of fact, it is said that sheep find the plant highly palatable and so can actively absorb necessary nutrients and minerals lacking in their diets. An important point to be aware of is that although sheep can feed on blueberries, rations must be properly monitored. Grazing lands made up of blueberry plants may be bad for sheep when provided to excess. Berries fall on the ground and so sheep eat them while grazing. An overdose is said to cause a number of health-related issues.

What Fruit Can Sheep Eat?

Sheep can eat blueberries and many other fruits that are primarily grown for human consumption. One of the major points to be aware of is that although fruits are highly nutritious and so considered as ideal feed supplements for ruminants, most of them have increased sugar content hence should only be provided in limited quantities.  To add on, some fruits contain increased water content which limits feed intake as sheep fill up on water thereby also limiting nutrients absorption. That being said, sheep can feed on blueberries, grapes, apples, bananas, pears and peaches among numerous other fruits. Another point to note is that all fruits have different nutritional values and so appropriate rations differ with the type of fruit versus the production stage of animals. Furthermore, sheep can feed on fruit scraps, for example, apple pomace or banana peels. These items are just as nutritious as the fruit. Instead of disposing of industrial fruit by-products, it is recommended to use them as supplementary feed for sheep. In fact, this practice has already been adopted in various countries across the globe. Basically, sheep can feed on blueberries and most fruit varieties considered as safe for humans, though only as treat or supplements.

What Should You Not Feed Sheep?

Although sheep can eat blueberries and other fruits, some feedstuff should not be provided to them. Fruits and vegetables consumed to excess may cause some health-related issues as the digestive system of ruminants is not designed to digest such feedstuff. Sheep should not be given free access to grain feed. This is to prevent grain overload which is known to cause a number of health-related issues including bloat. Furthermore, sheep should not be given feed containing rhubarb leaves. This is because they contain oxalic acid which compromises animal health when consumed to excess. Avocados are not recommended for ruminants, including sheep as they contain persin which is a toxic compound that can also cause health conditions. Plants belonging to the nightshade family contain alkaloids hence should also be avoided. Take note that these toxic compounds are found high in immature fruit. As such, sheep and other ruminants can feed on ripe nightshades including tomatoes. While sheep can readily feed on vetch, hairy vetch is said to be highly toxic thus should under no circumstances be provided to sheep. The same applies to industrial hemp which has been proven to compromise the health of sheep. Even though hay constitutes the main part of sheep diets, especially during the dry season, sheep cannot overfeed on hay. Legume hay such as alfalfa is known to cause bloats when provided to excess.