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Can Sheep Eat Corn?

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Raising sheep is fun and easy so long as you keep feeding them with what is safe for them.

As herbivores and ruminants, sheep need a plant-based diet. So long as you stick to a plant-based diet, your sheep will be okay.

What are examples of feed for sheep? Can sheep eat corn?

Sheep can eat corn. Corn is one of the safest and most palatable foods for sheep. Be sure to offer whole corn instead of cracked corn to avoid rumen issues.

Sheep in nature on meadow

However, you should give corn as treats or supplements, instead of making it part of their regular diet.

How do you feed corn to sheep? When should sheep eat corn? Continue reading.

Can Corn Satisfy the Nutritional Requirements of Sheep?

Sheep are herbivores. This means that they eat plants and plant products.

Sheep are also ruminants. As ruminants, sheep have microbes in their rumen which help them to digest food quickly. Ruminant animals such as sheep and goats eat grasses, hay, etc. as this diet can satisfy the nutritional needs of the animal.

Corn contains a lot of carbohydrates and few proteins. This means that if you give too much corn to your sheep, you are not helping their growth as protein is the nutrient responsible for the growth of animals.

It also means that you are giving too many carbohydrates to your sheep and this can result in an upset digestive system of your sheep.

Sheep can eat corn, but not as a regular diet.

The daily diet of sheep should have a lot of proteins as well as fibers, vitamins, and minerals.

How to Feed Sheep with Corn

Here are ways that you can feed corn to sheep:

  • Give Sheep Whole Corn: You should give whole corn to sheep and not cracked corn. Giving cracked corn to sheep can expose them to acidosis.
  • Give Your Sheep a Protein Supplement: Corn has a lot of carbohydrates and fewer proteins. Sheep (especially lambs) need a lot of proteins, so you must give your sheep protein supplements if you feed them with corn regularly.
  • Feed Should Not Contain Over 50% Corn: Sheep diets should be mostly hay and grasses. Having mostly corn in their diet can expose them to urinary calculi, or kidney stones.
  • Mix Corn with Other Foods for Sheep: If your sheep are refusing a specific diet, you can mix the corn with it as corn can increase the chance of your sheep eating what they might have refused.
  • Give Corn to Sheep as Treats: Remember to give corn to sheep as treats. Do not give them corn as a regular diet.

Make sure that you feed your sheep the correct diet to avoid potential problems.

sheep eating leafy lettuce

What Can Sheep Eat?

Sheep can eat a lot of different things. You should only feed your sheep with plant-based materials. Here are some examples:

  • Pasture: Sheep love to eat lush green grass. You should give your sheep access to a lot of pasture grass.
  • Hay and Stalks: If you keep your sheep on dry lot, sheep can eat cut grass or hay from a trough. Hay contains as many nutrients for sheep, and usually makes up the bulk of their diet, especially in winter months where the ground freezes or grasses go dormant. Timothy hay is recommended for sheep.
  • Sheep Pellets: Sheep pellets are made of grass, grains, and other ingredients that can satisfy the nutrient requirements of your sheep. If you are keeping your sheep as a pet or you do not have many sheep, you can feed them with pellets. Pellets are not as recommended when you have a lot of sheep as pellets can be expensive.
  • Seeds and Grains: Want to give your sheep treats? You can give them seeds and grains. Just like corn, sheep can eat a wide variety of seeds and grains such as barley, peas, millet, and sunflower seeds. Give seeds and grains to your sheep as healthy treats.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Sheep need their vegetables just like grasses and hay. Give fruits to sheep as treats only as fruits usually contain a lot of carbohydrates.

Great food ideas, right?

Related Questions and Answers

If you have some questions, you are in luck as the answers may be found below:

1. What Are Some Tips to Raising Sheep?

flock of dairy sheep

Here are some useful tips for you in raising sheep:

  • Provide Clean Water: Sheep need their water clean. If the water looks too unhygienic for you to drink, do not allow your sheep to drink it. Always wash their water trough and make sure that if your sheep are drinking water from a lake or pond, the water is safe for them.
  • Do Not Feed Sheep with Animal Products: Sheep are herbivores, so you should not give them animal products such as meat, eggs, dairy, etc. You should stick to a plant-based diet for your sheep.
  • Protect Your Sheep from Predators and Thieves: As someone who raises sheep, you are a shepherd and it is your duty to protect your sheep from anything or anyone that can harm them. You should fence the area so that your sheep cannot get loose.

2. Can Sheep Eat Corn Husks and Stalks?

Sheep love corn husks (but not as much as the actual corn). If you have corn husks left over from a summer barbeque, you do not have to throw them away as they are rich sources of proteins and fiber for your sheep. As for corn stalks, you can feed them to your sheep as well.

Sheep can eat corn stalks. As a tip, you should dry the corn stalk and feed them to your sheep in winter (when there is less pasture). Cornstalks are a free and nutritious source of feed for your sheep (especially in winter).

3. Can Gestating Ewes Eat Corn?

Pregnant sheep (or gestating ewes) need corn and other grains. You should give them at least 2.5 pounds of corn daily prior to lambing (giving birth).

Grains help the development of the growing lamb. After lambing, you can continue feeding your ewe with corn or you can reduce her corn intake and opt for a more proteinous supplement (for milk production).

4. Do Sheep Need Salt Blocks?

Sheep licking salt block in the field

Salt blocks are good for sheep.

A salt block contains a lot of needed vitamins and minerals for your sheep. Sheep need their minerals especially in summer when they lose moisture and can lose large amounts of minerals. You should provide white salt blocks for your sheep.

Be sure to only use the white, pure salt blocks and not the red salt blocks meant for cattle. The red blocks contain levels of copper that can be toxic to sheep.

If you do not like the idea of giving your sheep access to salt blocks, you can feed your sheep with sheep pellets as they also contain all the nutrients that your sheep needs.

Have you found the answer to your question? I hope so.

5. What Animals Can Eat Corn?

A lot of animals can eat corn. Here are some examples:

  • Goats
  • Rodents
  • Rabbits
  • Poultry Birds
  • Pigs

Remember to give corn as treats and not regular diets.

Also, to reduce the digestion rate of corn, you should serve it whole and not cracked. Poultry, however, can eat, and often prefer, cracked corn.

Final Thoughts

Sheep can eat corn, but not too much of it. You should only give corn to sheep as a treat or reward for management behaviors.

Also, remember to give your gestating ewes (pregnant sheep) the needed grains for the development of their lambs.