What do Sheep Eat?


What do Sheep Eat?

I make money from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate.

Sheep are among the most significant animals in the world since they are used to produce food and clothing. Around the world, people raise these cuddly and charming creatures as livestock, and since they can be so amiable, many people opt to keep sheep as pets.

There are more than 200 sheep species or breeds, and each of these kinds is bred for a particular purpose. While wooly sheep in colder climes are raised for their wool, meat, and milk, short-haired sheep are raised for their meat and milk.

What do Sheep Eat

What do Sheep Eat

Sheep are herbivores, meaning they solely eat plant material. Four stomach chambers make up the intricate digestive system of these mammals. In these many chambers, food in stems, leaves, and seeds is broken down so that sheep can absorb the nutrients from these sources.

When sheep eat, various processes are used by their stomach chambers to break down the food. For instance, food can be regurgitated for chewing, be fermented in one chamber, or bypass specific chambers entirely, such as the rumen. All food is eventually gathered in the abomasum chamber, where it receives its last processing before being transmitted via the intestines.

Sheep cannot eat nearly any food because of their intricate digestive systems. To sustain their health, they depend on eating the correct meals in the right amounts. Here is a brief overview of the primary dietary sources for sheep:


For sheep, natural pasture grass is the most vital source of diet. Sheep tend to stay away from tall, woody plants that goats enjoy since their tongues and teeth are made to feed on short grass. They enjoy choosing only specific plant sections that are more easily digestible or contain more nutrients. They will eat almost any type of grass, though they do favor organic varieties.


Sheep can also eat various plant species. Legumes, forbs, and other forms of pasture plants are typically preferred by them since they are short and softer. Due to their high nutrient content, these plants can serve as a valuable food source when pasture grass is scarce. Sheep may also like some forbs over grassy pastures, such as broad-leaf plants.

Dry stored feed

For their sheep to have food during dry seasons, many sheepherders gather, dry, and store the feed. Excellent sheep feed options include hay, silage, balage, green chop, crop, and other byproducts. These foods also keep well in storage.


Some crop farms may feed their sheep with byproducts. Sheep are frequently fed byproducts such soybean hulls, peanut hulls, corn gluten feed, wheat middlings, and entire cotton seeds. During dry seasons, these food sources are extremely useful.

Additionally, distilleries feed sheep with their by-products, such as grains. This can be a very reasonable and frugal feed for sheep, especially during difficult seasons, and it’s an excellent method to save food waste.


Grain is frequently offered to sheep with increased nutrient requirements. When sheep ewes are nursing two or more lambs, pregnant, or when a sheep is recovering from an illness, sheepherders may choose to provide these and other supplements. In times of need, they can also decide to provide supplements.

Before providing grains to your sheep or supplementing the water they drink, it’s crucial to speak with a veterinarian. Sheep will swell if they consume too much gain, and potentially dangerous medical disorders may be set off.


Always provide plenty of freshwater to your sheep, especially if they are housed in pens. Sheep can’t properly digest food when they’re too dehydrated since their saliva production declines. Fresh water in abundance keeps your sheep content and healthy.

Diet variations

While grazing, sheep will occasionally investigate strange plants and items. Young sheep often try to chew on strange objects, including potentially harmful materials like plastic. To help shield your sheep from these toxins, it’s crucial to maintain your grazing meadows clean.

Sheep that have been domesticated or tamed are also quite prone to develop a taste for various things used by humans. They will particularly develop a taste for items made of corn or wheat, such as porridge, bread, cake, or rusks. These human foods should be consumed in much smaller amounts as they frequently contain undesirable elements like salt and sugar that are bad for a sheep’s digestive tract.

The greatest meal for your pet is natural sheep feed and byproducts.

Sheep also adore eating a variety of other foods, including carrots, apples, grapes, lettuce, oats, and other fruits and vegetables. In comparison to human diets, these foods are far healthier supplements that you can give in moderation.

How to feed sheep

How to feed sheep

Sheep often spend 7 hours a day grazing. They will opt to relax when the sun is at its hottest. They prefer to graze in the early morning and once more after dusk.

You should provide feeding places for sheep maintained in enclosures. Self-feeders are incredibly useful for minimizing labor. You only need to put out suitable food, and sheep will eat it on their own volition.

In order to supplement their food even further, many farms also decide to offer lick feeders. These feeders are also really simple to provide. They are simply left outside, with self-feeders, where the sheep will lick themselves whenever their bodies need more nutrients.

How much do sheep eat?

Sheep in adulthood: Sheep ingest 2.5–3% of their body weight each day. A 40 kg sheep will eat 1–1.2 kilogram of feed every day. Grass and grain should be used in this feed, depending on the season. Natural pasture is rich in minerals in the spring, whereas dry meals may be deficient in minerals, necessitating the use of extra supplemental grain feeds in the winter.

Sheep lambs need colostrum immediately after birth to promote good growth. They will only ingest mother’s milk for the first seven days of their lives. If a sheep lamb becomes orphaned, the owner must make sure the lamb gets the recommended amount of milk each day. A lamb needs 600ml of cow’s milk each day for the first three weeks.

newborn lambs Sheep lambs begin to graze with their mothers at seven days old. It’s critical to provide nutrition at this point in addition to milk. Sheep can be weaned at 6 to 8 months as the lamb increases food intake from grazing as it gets older.

What do baby sheep eat?

Depending on their age, lambs or baby sheep have various nutritional requirements. Here is a quick glance at what lambs need to eat:

The lamb needs colostrum, the first drop of the mother’s milk, during the first three days. Owners can give an orphaned lamb the boost it needs by mixing one egg, five milliliters of cod liver oil, and ten grams of sugar into 750 milliliters of cow’s milk.

Between three and seven days, the lamb will only eat from its mother. Lambs who are orphaned should drink at least 600 ml of cow’s milk daily.

8 months – 7 days As early as day seven, lambs begin to graze. They will initially chew on tiny pieces of grass or grain. Lambs are able to eat the same types of food as adult sheep, but at this stage they also need milk and smaller, softer foods.

What do wild sheep eat?

Wild sheep can only eat anything they can find in the natural world. They mostly survive on wild pasture grass and other kinds of plants. When the going becomes tough, sheep ranchers that maintain their flocks on pastures will opt to provide extra food like hay or grains.

What do sheep like to eat as a treat?

Sheep require daily pasture grass or hay to develop into healthy, robust animals. However, they also enjoy eating wholesome goodies like fruits and vegetables.

As a treat or to increase their dietary intake, you can give your pet sheep or herd of sheep apples, carrots, celery, grapes, lettuce, oats, pears, pumpkins, squash, sunflower seeds, or watermelon.

What is poisonous to sheep?

For sheep, many common plant foods are not at all healthy. For instance, grains can be given as supplemental feed, but these foods should only be given in small amounts because they can lead to obesity. Sheep are also poisoned by some trees and foliage.

Avoiding foods like avocado, azaleas, bracken ferns, buttercups, cassava, cherries, plums, chocolate, foxglove, kale, hemlock, holly trees, lilacs, lilies, oleander, poppies, potatoes, and other foods will help keep your sheep healthy.

Can sheep eat bread?

Offering minimal amounts of bread is OK. Grains, which are used to make bread, can provide livestock a boost under difficult circumstances. However, these foods also have a lot of fats, which can lead to obesity. When given bread or other things, sheep tend to eat excessive amounts of it as well.

One of the most significant livestock species in the world is the sheep. They have a wide range of applications and make excellent pets. To continue to get the most out of these priceless animals, it’s critical to provide the proper care and nutrition for your sheep.

Amazon.com, Inc. or one of its affiliates owns the trademarks for Amazon and the Amazon logo.


What is a lamb vs sheep?

Young/baby sheep are referred to as lambs. When a domestic animal is kept for its wool, the term “sheep” is used.

Why is lamb popular but not sheep?

The majority of the lamb that is sold in supermarkets and butcher shops was weaned from the ewe or was at an age where it could have been. Mutton is the name for sheep meat. The entire globe eats it. But because lamb is more delicate and gamier, many prefer lamb.

Is a lamb a baby sheep or goat?

Sheep A lamb is the name for a young sheep. A sheep might give birth to twins or only one lamb. Triplets are occasionally born. Goats A kid is a young goat.

At what age does a lamb become a sheep?

A sheep that is a year old or younger is considered a lamb. It is referred to as a yearling when it is between one and two years old. The sheep is an adult after that. A ewe is an adult female, whereas a ram or buck is an adult male.

Is a sheep a male or female?

A baby sheep is referred to as a lamb, an adult female as a ewe (/ju/), a castrated male as a wether (sometimes a tup), and an intact male as a ram. The wild mouflon of Europe and Asia are likely the ancestors of sheep, with Iran serving as the geographic boundary for the domestication core.


Like it? Share with your friends!

Sarah Green

Wildlife and Nature Fan & Author