If you’re thinking about introducing apples into your sheep’s diet, you might be unsure of what to expect. It’s important to consider how changes to diet can affect your herd’s safety and nutrition.
Can sheep eat apples?
Sheep can safely eat apples but only in moderate amounts. Apples are juicy, delicious, and nutritious, and you’ll probably find that your sheep love eating them. They also offer numerous health benefits such as balancing a sheep’s stomach pH.
But not all parts of an apple are good for sheep to eat, and moderation is key as with many treats. Make sure you review the impact that apples can have on your herd before you feed apples to them.
Apple Nutrition Facts
Apples offer the following nutrients to sheep:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
Potassium makes up the largest proportion of minerals in apples. This mineral is essential for electrolyte balance in sheep.
It is the main mineral in the fluid inside the cells of sheep and is essential for cell buoyancy.
Ruminant animals, including sheep, consume large quantities of potassium. One reason for this is that potassium plays a part in bacterial fermentation in the rumen of sheep.
Potassium may also play a part in facilitating the absorption of calcium and magnesium in sheep.
Normal potassium levels are essential for normal blood pressure, and they are also necessary to control water retention in the body. Potassium may also offer some protection against renal stones.
Sheep can produce Vitamin C using their liver, and so far, their dietary Vitamin C requirement has not been confirmed.
Vitamin C helps improve immunity in sheep. It is also useful in preventing hepatic lesions and in mitigating various forms of stress including heat stress.
Vitamin C has also been shown to play a part in fighting toxins. For one, it blocks the damaging effects of the endotoxin released by E.coli in the lungs of sheep.
Vitamin A plays multiple roles in proper sheep development. It helps improve night vision, fertility, growth, immunity, and the functions of the epithelial tissue.
Apples contain a lot of fiber. In 100 grams of apple, your sheep can get about 4 grams of fiber.
A significant amount of the fiber contained in apple is pectin. Fiber is essential for gut health and fosters the growth of gut bacteria, facilitates easy bowel movements, and aids digestion.
Since apple peels are specifically a great source of fiber, you can add them to a sheep’s regular feed. This will go a long way in promoting healthy gut functions.
Magnesium is essential to ensure normal feeding habits in sheep. Magnesium also helps with stress, lambing, and milk production.
Deficiencies have been linked to reduced appetite and reduced feed consumption in sheep. In extreme cases, low levels of magnesium may lead to grass tetany, a potentially fatal condition in sheep.
Apple is packed with antioxidants including quercetin, chlorogenic acid, and catechin. These compounds help fight free radicals and are useful in combating stress and diseases.
Are Apples Healthy for Sheep?
Apples make a great, healthy snack for your sheep. They contain a blend of vitamins and minerals that promote proper immunity, growth, and digestion.
Apples support healthy sheep with improved function in the gut. They help with pH balance, promote the growth of good gut bacteria, help mitigate the effect of stress, improve gut movement, and aid digestion.
Dangers of Apples for Sheep
While apples are nutritious and your sheep will enjoy eating them, there is one part of an apple that spells danger for a sheep: the seeds.
Apple seeds contain cyanide, a substance that blocks the usage of oxygen at the cellular level and leads to death. Ensure you remove all seeds before feeding apples to your sheep.
Another common danger that comes with feeding apples to your sheep is choking. This usually happens when you give the sheep a whole apple or a large chunk.
Apples are safer for your sheep when you cut the apple into smaller chunks before feeding.
When buying apples for your sheep, pay attention to the skin. In some cases, sellers coat the skin so that they can look fresh. However, these waxes and paints can be toxic to sheep.
Be sure to give your sheep fresh apples that have not begun to rot and have not been tampered with.
How to Prepare Apples for Sheep
Before feeding apples to your sheep, you should do the following:
Wash the Apple Skin Thoroughly
Sometimes apples are covered in a layer of wax or paint to make them appear fresher than they really are. The first step to preparing apples for sheep is washing them thoroughly.
Preferably, you can soak the apples in warm water for about 1 hour to remove any toxins.
Cut Apples Into Small Pieces
You should not give the sheep whole apples because of the risk of choking. Cut the apples into small pieces before serving it to your herd.
You can cut the apple into tiny slices or small dices. Alternatively, you can shred them.
Remove the Apple Seeds
Do not forget to remove the apple seeds; this is very important. The seeds are toxic to sheep, so ensure the apples are effectively deseeded.
How Many Apples Can You Feed Sheep?
You cannot leave your sheep to survive on only apples. Apples do not contain every nutrient sheep need to grow.
Apples should be given to your sheep as part of a balanced diet. Combine the apples with foliage, hay, and legumes to give your sheep sufficient nutrients.
You should also avoid giving your sheep too many apples. In large amounts, the acidity of apples will cause the production of large volumes of gas.
This will lead to bloating and stomach aches. Besides causing bloating, giving sheep too many apples can cause diarrhea.
So, how much apple should you feed sheep?
Foods That Sheep Cannot Eat
Now that we know you can give your sheep apples, let’s move to a list of foods they cannot eat:
Things to Remember
- Never give your sheep too many apples.
- Remove all the seeds in the apples before you feed them to your sheep.
- Wash the apples thoroughly.
- Do not feed whole apples to the sheep.
- Cut apples into small pieces that they can easily swallow.
Other Fruits Sheep Can Eat
Apples are just one of many treats that sheep enjoy. Be sure to check out our post on what fruits sheep love to eat for more delicious options.