Can Sheep Eat Kale?

Nutrition is of the utmost importance in livestock keeping. Similar to humans, the production, health and the overall well-being of sheep is largely determined by the type of feed provided. For this reason, nutrition management is an essential aspect of breeding sheep. The need for a skilful feeding system has become even more pronounced due to the exorbitant costs of livestock feed. Studies reveal that feeds costs currently account to approximately two-thirds of the total cost of production. Resultantly, farmers have adopted alternative feedstuff that are highly nutritious and have no adverse effects on health, reproduction and production. Among these feedstuff is kale; experimental results indicate that sheep can eat kale for improved performance.

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Nutritional Value

Sheep can feed on kale during the dry season when forage is of insufficient supply to meet their dietary needs. According to research, kale is a well-proven fodder crop that is commonly used as supplementary feed for ruminants. Kale is an ideal source of nutrients and minerals including potassium, manganese and magnesium. The high composition of crude fibre found in the plant plays an important role in the physiological development of sheep. The vitamin-rich kale is also valued for its role in sustenance of animal health. To add on, kale is highly digestible and so sheep can absorb sufficient nutrients required for daily sustenance. Although the plant provides a valuable feed supplement during the winter season, sheep can feed on kale only in limited amounts. Additionally, it is recommended to make use of young kale plants. This is due to the fact that most brassicas can safely be used whilst young and leafy; as they mature, toxic substances become more concentrated. According to research studies on the subject matter, sheep can eat kale at rations of about one pound daily. Rations exceeding a pound can cause health problems. It is advisable to consult a veterinarian when over-consumption or symptoms of poisoning are experienced.

Kale Supplements for Physical Development

Sheep can eat kale to absorb nutrients lacking in their daily dietary plans. Forage quality is often low during the winter season when rainfall is low. As such, the nutrient composition of forage tends to be insufficient for the dietary requirements of sheep. For this reason, kale is a highly valuable feeding supplement. Agricultural experts state that kale can tolerate cold weather and so it is a perfect food source during the winter season. Kale is usually used to extend the grazing season. Take care to alternate sowing dates to ensure it does not over-mature and become toxic. The upside of using kale is that it is a fairly cheaper feeding option and usually a readily available plant to most farmers. By making use of kale supplements, production costs are controlled while production is improved. The protein found in kale is essential for the physical development of sheep. In fact, protein is said to be the basis on which the quality of feedstuff is measured. This communicates the importance of protein in ensuring maximum productivity thus should be supplemented when it is lacking. Therefore, sheep can eat kale to acquire sufficient proteins that are crucial for bone, teeth and muscle development including facilitation of timely maturity. Kale is usually used to fatten lambs in the autumn or winter periods.

Kale Supplements for Health maintenance

Sheep can feed on kale for the sole purpose of health maintenance. Sheep can suffer from a number of health related issues when provided with poor quality feed. This is usually the case during the dry seasons. As such, using kale as feed for sheep is useful to make sure that animals are provided with sufficient feed thus sustaining their daily body functions. Kale is a rich source of minerals and trace elements that are valuable in maintaining the long term health of sheep. As a matter of fact, sheep dietary plans lacking in trace elements are known to cause gradual decline in health, reproduction and production. In severe cases, animals may not reach their full potential even after rectifying this challenge. Sheep can eat kale to absorb micro minerals that act as antioxidant agents. These help to fight free radicals that cause oxidative stress leading to deterioration of the taste, texture and overall quality of the meat

What Vegetables Can Sheep Eat?

Sheep can feed on kale and a variety of other vegetables. Sheep are generally not picky eaters and so are known to find a lot of vegetables palatable. Experts point out that vegetables are highly valuable supplements due to their rich nutritional profile. It is said that they consist of flavonoids that are of the essence in ensuring quality produce therefore increased profits. It is however essential for farmers to keep in mind that vegetables are not a primary feedstuff for livestock as some contain toxic compounds that can harm animals when consumed to excess. That being said, sheep can feed on kale, celery and lettuce among other vegetables. Basically, sheep can feed on most vegetables that are safe for cows and goats because they digest feed in a similar manner.

What Should You Note Feed Sheep?

Although sheep can eat kale and various types of vegetables without experiencing adverse effects on health and production, other types of plants are highly toxic and so should not be provided. Most brassica plants are toxic, particularly when they are fully mature. For this reason, sheep should not be fed mature brassica plants. Note that this also applies to kale because it also belongs to the brassica family. Sheep cannot feed on avocados, bracken ferns, broccoli, turnips, cabbage, buttercup, azaleas, cassava, cherry trees, plum trees, hemlock, and potatoes. To add on, plant belonging to the nightshade family contain toxic compounds therefore should not be used as feed supplements for sheep. Another important point to note is that some parts of these plants are suitable for sheep while some are toxic. For example, tomatoes are quite safe whereas tomato greens are toxic. A common trait among these vegetables is that even the safe parts of plants are toxic when consumed to excess. For this reason, some farmers completely disregard them as livestock feed supplements.