Can Sheep Eat Grapes?

Sheep Eat Grapes

Livestock feed is currently a source of major challenges in the agricultural industry. This is due to the constant increase in commercial feedstuff beyond the financial capabilities of some farmers. Even for a few farmers that are able to sustain well-balanced diets, the exorbitant cost of feed cuts across profits. The challenge is more pronounced during the dry season when the amount of forage available is not enough to sustain sheep dietary plans. Consequentially, production and profit generation is compromised. Since grapes are highly famed as one the most nutritious fruits, farmers have been considering whether or not sheep can eat grapes. Studies indicate that sheep can feed on grapes as treats or supplements. It is advisable for farmers to have adequate knowledge on their nutritional value versus that of livestock dietary requirements as well as proper rations as excess consumption can have detrimental effects.

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Nutritional Value

Sheep are not picky eaters and so can feed on a variety of feedstuff provided it is nutritious and palatable. As such, sheep can feed on grapes due their superior nutritional profile. Grapes are a source of nutrients and minerals that are sometimes lacking in forage diets. For this reason, they can be used as feed supplements to allow for health maintenance, reproduction as well as production. They also help to provide sheep with essential nutrients for timely physiological development. Grapes are a rich source of crude fibre, crude fat, starch, vitamins and energy. They also consist of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, magnesium, copper, and iron among other minerals. Sheep can feed on grapes to absorb these nutrients and minerals. Studies reveal that grapes are also a good source of nutrients needed to protect livestock from cell and muscle damage caused by oxidative stress. Despite the fact that sheep can eat grapes for their overall well-being, caution should be taken to ensure that animals do not overfeed on grapes. Excess grape supplement is known to cause a number of digestive issues including indigestion, constipation and stomach flatulence. To add on, grapes contain high tannin composition that affects digestibility of feed. Young livestock can choke on grapes which another challenge of providing sheep with such feedstuff. That being said, sheep can feed on goats without experiencing any of these effects, provided the feeding system is skilfully managed.

Grape Supplements for Physiological Development

Similar to humans and other animal species, sheep require balanced diets for the maintenance of their overall well-being. Forage diets supplemented by grape pomace are therefore considered as the ideal feed-stuff for sheep. The upside of using grape pomace is that it is usually readily available and can be purchased at relatively lower prices in comparison to commercially produced supplements and additives. The nutrients and minerals found in grape supplements allow for timely physiological development of sheep. In other words, livestock reach slaughter weight within the expected timeframe if not earlier. By doing so, profits are increased because money that would have been spent on feed for a prolonged period is saved. Also, the trace elements found in grapes play an important role in ensuring healthy livestock therefore preserving the quality and quantity of the produce. Ill cows do not mature timeously and in severe cases may not reach the ideal slaughter weight even after recovery. This affects the profitability of the agricultural venture as the cost of sheep depends on their weight.

Grape Supplements for Health Sustenance

Sheep can feed on grapes for health sustenance purposes. Grapes are a source of nutrients and minerals necessary for the maintenance of healthy livestock. The vitamins and flavonoids found in grapes are important for boosting the immune system thereby providing sheep with some form of tolerance against health related issues, particularly diseases and infection. Also, as stated earlier, sheep can eat grapes to absorb trace elements needed for long term health sustenance. Animals that are given diets lacking in sufficient trace elements eventually face health challenges thus lowered productivity. To add on, grapes are a source of antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds play an important role in fighting free radicals that cause oxidative stress. As a consequence, the quality of the meat is greatly diminished costing farmers a lot of money. Studies reveal that sheep can feed on grapes to acquire antioxidants that help to preserve the texture, taste and the overall quality of the meat. Note that grapes are lacking in essential nutrients such as proteins. That being said, there is need to make sure the main feed is rich in protein among other insufficient nutrients. Alternatively, these can be supplemented with the use of feed additives.

What Fruit Can Sheep Eat?

Sheep can eat grapes and many other fruits primarily grown for humans. An important point to keep in mind when providing fruits to sheep is that excess feed can be harmful to animals. It is thus recommended to provide sheep with a limited fruit diet. Experts emphasize that fruits are treats and so should not be used as replacement for forage, even during the dry period. That being said, ideal fruits to feed sheep include apples and pear. Sheep can also eat bananas among other fruits. Ruminants can basically feed on most fruits that are considered as proper for human diets. The nutritional benefits of fruits can easily be transferred to them through consumption. Also, fruits are essential because they are an essential source of minerals and trace elements lacking in forage diets. The major difference is that sheep cannot tolerate high dosages. In fact, an ideal ration must be lower than that of large ruminants.

What Can Sheep Not Eat?

Although sheep can eat grapes and many other feedstuff, there are some items that are toxic to them. According to research studies, despite of their superior ability to digest a range of feedstuff, sheep cannot eat bread. This is attributed to the fact that bread is rich in calories thus can lead to obesity and a variety of other health conditions. Note that diets consisting of small bread rations are not harmful to sheep. Sheep cannot eat blue-green algae and animal products. Studies reveal that these type of feeds contain toxins that can possibly be fatal. Furthermore, plants such as cabbage, hemlock, kale, yew, rhubarb and avocados are not advisable. Sheep may be able to digest some of these feeds but other parts of the plants are toxic. As a result, a number of farmers completely disregard such feeds for ruminants.