What do sheep eat? If we take it to the nutritional field, we could say that it is a process by which animals digest chemical components of grains and forages.
Did you know that sheep are ruminants? What does this mean?
It refers to the fact that its stomach is divided into four compartments, each of which has a specific and indispensable function for the animal. One of these compartments is called the rumen, which has the function of housing millions of microorganisms that ferment and transform food into products that are used for growth.
At Merino Breed we are delighted with the idea of producing high quality pieces from an excellent care and feeding of the sheep, because as we usually say: “from exemplary animals, exemplary products”.
What do our sheep eat? We are dedicated to maintain a sustainable livestock farming, based on the naturalness of the food and the unaltered growth of our sheep, therefore, our products are of high quality.
What do sheep eat?
Sheep are herbivorous animals, i.e. the food they eat is exclusively vegetable, obtaining all the nutrients they need to grow and live.
They feed mainly on grasses, legumes, shrubs, different types of grain and hay. They do not need to ingest proteins, therefore, their diet can be based on fiber, forage and starch.
The amount that sheep eat can vary, the smaller the ruminant and therefore its rumen, the less capacity it will have to eat. An adult ewe eats approximately 2 to 3 kg of feed per day.
Sheep eat on average 8 hours a day, which is usually the time they are grazing.
The amount of protein that a sheep must ingest is nil, but certain minerals are necessary for its survival. These are usually found in hay and fodder, but there are some farmers who prefer to administer it themselves, since many times the soil does not have these necessary components or has them but in a lower quantity than necessary.
Grass, a fundamental food to know what sheep eat
To the question What do sheep eat? We have just answered this, but there is one place where they always want to eat, the pastures . Since they are herbivorous animals, one would expect nothing else, but their diet can also consist of hay or different types of grain.
But they prefer to eat short, tender grasses near the surface. As for the distribution of the pasture that the sheep eat for their total utilization, it is useless, large extensions are needed for the sheep to graze. Of course, if the meadow is a whole and nothing separates it, it is much better.
Different types of grain and hay
Hay comes from two main crop sources, legumes and grasses. On the other hand, there are the grains, such as oat straw or barley straw that sheep eat, because if it is cut young, it still has the grain intact and is fed to the animal.
This feeding of sheep provides nutrients necessary for their growth, but we must not forget that they prefer fresh pastures.
What sheep eat: fiber and starch
As we have previously commented on what sheep eat, sheep are hardy animals that do not need to eat protein, so they can also base their diet on fiber, starch and some forage so that they do not have any type of dietary deficiency.
Water is a fundamental element for life, and for sheep as well. The farmer must make sure that the sheep have water at all times and, above all, that it is clean, as this will prevent possible diseases.
It is necessary to choose the right drinking trough, as sheep have sensitive snouts. It also has to be in a place away from the sun so that it is not hot and contaminated.
What sheep eat: commercial feed
What dairy ewes eat is not the same as what meat ewes eat, so their feed is different.
Ewes for milking or pregnant ewes, usually have a diet based on commercial feeds, which usually have a higher amount of grains. This type of feed contains 20% protein and, although they do not need this type of nutrient, it is not bad for them either.
The recommendation is not to use commercial feeds, as they are processed and of poorer quality than natural ones, but it should also be stressed that they are cheaper and as we have mentioned before, for dairy or pregnant ewes there is not a big problem.
Sheep feed mainly on fiber, forage and starch, but their diet is supplemented by hay, minerals and even grains. They greatly prefer to graze in pastures and the higher the quality of the feed, the better the resulting product, which for us, at Raza Merina, is the great secret.