Can Sheep Eat Fruits?

Fruits are said to be among the most nutritious foods. They consist of nutrients and minerals required by animals and humans alike. For this reason, sheep can eat fruits. As a matter of fact, fruits have been proven to be an ideal supplement for livestock, especially during dry seasons when forage quality is low. Fruits are favoured by many farmers because they are usually readily available and are a cheaper feed option in comparison to commercial feeds and additives. As such, farmers struggling to provide sheep with commercial feeds are able to sustain well-balanced dietary plans leading to increased production and profitability. Although sheep can eat fruits, excess feeding can result in a number of health related issues. It is therefore of the utmost importance for farmers to possess adequate knowledge about various types of fruits and their nutritional value.

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Nutritional Value

The nutritional value of fruits differs according to various types. Some fruits are more nutritious than others while some are more palatable to sheep. Despite these major variations, there are some basic nutrients found in all fruits. According to experts, most fruits are a rich source of vitamins, dietary fibre as well as minerals. For this reason, sheep can feed on fruits for health purposes and maintenance of daily bodily functions. Fruits are highly famed for their superior ability to boost the immune system and fight off free radicals that cause oxidative stress. Nonetheless, it is important for farmers to note that fruits can only be used as feed supplements and should not be used to replace normal sheep diets. This is because their dietary system is made up of 4 compartments designed to digest forage. To prevent digestive issues, it is advisable to gradually introduce sheep to fruit diets. Additionally, proper fruit rations for sheep differ in relation to the type of fruit available. It is therefore necessary for farmers to acquire sufficient knowledge on the appropriate feeding rations to allow for provision of additives and supplements where necessary. The most important factor to keep in mind is that not all fruits are good for sheep. Some fruits contain toxic compounds that can be detrimental to health and productivity.

Fruit Supplements for Improved Performance

As already stated, sheep can eat fruits due to their high nutritional value. Fruit pomace is a by-product of the processing industry. It is said to have the same nutritional value as the actual fruit and so sheep can eat fruit pomace to acquire necessary nutrients and minerals for daily sustenance. Studies reveal that fruit pomace helps to ensure well-balanced dietary plans hence sheep are able to reach the desired slaughter weight timeously. This basically means that sheep provided with fruit induced diets mature at a slightly faster rate in comparison to those on a strictly forage direct. Agricultural experts point out that forage diets are not meant for commercial ranching systems as they are lacking in some nutrient required by livestock thus sheep on such diets mature at a slower pace and are not highly productive. To add on, fruits are generally known for their superior mineral composition which allows for muscle, teeth and bone development. Although sheep can feed on fruits for improved performance, whole fruits can possibly choke the animal resulting in detrimental effects. As such, breeders should make sure that the bite size is safe for sheep. Also, as stated earlier, fruits should be given in moderation than a main feed item in their diets.

Fruit Supplements for Health Sustenance

Similar to humans, sheep diets should be monitored as a way to ensure optimal health and production. In simple terms, the type of feed provided to sheep determine the state of their health. Animals offered poor dietary plans are more susceptible to diseases and infection. As an additional consequence, a lot of money is lost through veterinary costs. The upside of breeding sheep is that ruminants are not picky eaters and so sheep can feed on fruits to supplement lacking nutrients in their daily diets. The abundant vitamins found in most fruits play a critical role in boosting the immune system thereby providing sheep with some form of defence against rampant diseases. Additionally, most fruits contain flavonoids which help in preserving quality of the produce. Flavonoids are antioxidant agents that are responsible for fighting off free radicals. These cause oxidative tress thus affecting the texture and taste of the meat. In severe cases, major losses are recorded. As clearly indicated, sheep can eat fruit supplements due to their health benefits which in turn lead to a successful agricultural venture.

Which Food Is Good For Sheep?

Sheep are ruminants and so their dietary system is designed for forage feed. This basically means that grass feed is ideal for them. Sheep can feed on fruits as supplements or treats with their main dietary plans consisting of forage feedstuff. Sheep mainly eat grass, clovers and other legumes. Note that the nutritional value of the forage varies according to the type of grass available and the season.  Fresh forage is highly preferred as it is generally more nutritious in comparison to dry forage. Also, forages such as alfalfa, vetch and red clover have higher nutritional composition than other forage types. Sheep can also feed on forbs which are among their favourite foods. These are broadleaf plants found in the grazing area. Additionally, sheep tend to favour such rugged leafy plants. The upside of breeding sheep is that unlike cows, they are not picky and so consume a variety of feed with sufficient nutritional value. Basically, the best food for sheep is in the form of high quality pasture, particularly mixed grasses and clover varieties.

What Can Sheep Not Eat?

Sheep can eat fruits and a variety of other feeds without experiencing any health related issues. However, some types of feeds are toxic and should not be given to the animals. Some plants including azaleas, chrysanthemums, acorns, buttercups, daffodils, holly and elderberry are highly toxic to sheep and in severe cases, death can occur. Furthermore, sheep cannot eat human diets such as meat or any food consisting of meat scraps. Despite the fact that sheep can eat fruits to absorb necessary nutrients for improved performance, excess fruit diets have negative effects. As previously stated, their dietary system is meant for the digestion of grass and so fruits may possibly cause harm. Also, most fruits contain high sugar levels while some have too much water content which is not ideal for animal diets.