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Will Sheep Drink from Running Water?

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Are you thinking about raising sheep? Perhaps you have heard some of the popular opinions surrounding them. For example, most people believe that sheep will not drink from running water and will drink only still water.

Is it true that sheep will not drink from running water? Read this article to find out.

Will sheep drink running water?

Sheep will drink any available kind of water: running, still, clean, dirty, etc. It is important that you prevent your sheep from drinking dirty water, though.

sheep drinking water

You should also pay close attention to your sheep when they are close to streams and other fast-flowing waters.

Which type of water is best for your sheep? How do you give water to your sheep? Continue reading.

Drinking Behavior of Sheep

Sheep need a lot of water. Sheep that eat mostly dry feed such as hay and straw will drink even more water. There is a saying that sheep will not drink from running water. Is it true?

Will Sheep Drink Running Water or Still Water?

The saying that sheep do not drink from running water is nothing but a hoax. Water is water to sheep. Sheep will drink water from any and every source (so long as they can reach it).

Running Water or Still Water: Which Is Best for Sheep?

A group of sheep drink water from a lake

By running water, I mean streams and rivers, taps, any water source that is moving. By still water, I mean water in troughs, ponds, watering holes, and the like.

While sheep can drink water from every source, it is recommended not to encourage your sheep to drink water from fast-flowing streams.

The wool of sheep absorbs so much water, that if your sheep falls into fast-flowing streams, they may be too heavy to climb out. The strength of the water can quickly carry them away because of their wool.

To be safe, prevent your sheep from reaching streams and other fast-flowing water bodies.

How Much Water Do Sheep Need?

Sheep need as much water as they can get. Aside from grass, grains, pellets, etc. given to sheep, sheep are also given blocks of mineral salts. These blocks contain minerals such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, etc. in a recommended ratio.

Consumption of these blocks (as well as grasses and other sheep food) makes them thirsty and crave a lot of water. Whether running or still, make sure that sheep have a lot of water.

Sheep drink 3-12 liters of water daily depending on their age and breed.

Different Methods to Give Water to Sheep

in raising sheep, here are some different ways to give them water:

1. Water Troughs

Artificial watering points or water troughs are large buckets or containers in which sheep can drink water. Remember to change the water in troughs daily. Also, you should properly wash water troughs regularly.

2. Drinkers (Sheep Drinkers)

A sheep drinker is a product that is specially made for sheep. This product prevents your sheep from wasting water and also encloses the water so that it does not get dirty quickly.

You can have as many drinkers as you need. You need to have enough drinkers for your sheep (at least 2 sheep per drinker) so that each thirsty sheep will have access to water.

3. Open Ponds

Ponds are mini lakes. Sheep can drink pond water, but you have to make sure that the pond water is clean enough for your sheep. Do not allow your sheep to drink water from polluted ponds.

4. Stream

Remember that you should always watch your sheep when they are close to streams for the danger of them falling in and not being able to get out.

Stream waters, however, are usually very clean and healthy for sheep consumption.

5. Water Bottles for Lambs

This product is simply a nipple attached to a bottle. It is used to give water or milk to lambs. Water bottles are great for orphaned lambs so they get water or milk from the bottle just as other lambs get milk from their mother.

Which product will you use to provide water to your sheep?

Related Questions and Their Answers

Got any other sheep-related questions? Here are a few answers:

1. What Do Sheep Eat?

Sheep are herbivores. This means that sheep eat plants and plant products. Examples of a sheep’s diet include:

  • Grass
  • Fruits
  • Leaves
  • Flowers
  • Soft twigs
  • Leafy greens
  • Sheep Pellets
  • Seeds and grains
  • Hay

Sheep are also ruminants. As ruminants, sheep chew their cud.

They have a four-chambered stomach in which there is a rumen. The rumen is a chamber in the stomach of sheep in which there are a lot of microbes (fungi, anaerobic bacteria, etc.) that help sheep to break down food.

With the possession of a rumen, sheep can eat various kinds of food that people and other animals cannot.

For example, sheep can eat and digest cellulose (dietary fiber), a structural material in most plants. The stem, branches, and some other parts of trees and plants are composed of higher amounts of cellulose.

Sheep can also get glucose from digesting paper.

2. Can Sheep Survive on Grass Alone?

As a ruminant, sheep can survive on grass alone. Examples of grass that sheep prefer to eat are:

  • Fescue
  • Ryegrass
  • Orchardgrass
  • Bermuda grass
  • Reed canary grass

Sheep can also eat legumes such as clovers, alfalfa, etc.

3. Can Sheep Eat Paper and Other Wastes?

Remember that sheep can digest cellulose. Most papers are made with cellulose and other components. If your sheep are eating plain paper (without ink and free from other chemicals), you can allow them to eat it because the bacteria in their rumen will help them digest it.

Inked papers and other kinds of wastes including plastics, leather, and glass, should not be consumed by your sheep because they are toxic and indigestible.

4. How Do You Get Lambs To Drink Water?

In their first 2-3 weeks, lambs only need their mother’s milk (or formula, but their mother’s milk is best). After the first few weeks, you should cut their milk supply, if you are bottle-feeding, and make grass and grains readily available to your lambs. You should also provide water.

When they are hungry, they will eat the available food (when they cannot find milk). They will also drink water.

5. How Long Can Sheep Stay Without Water?

Sheep can live from 4-10 days without water. It depends on the breed and diet of the sheep. If the sheep mostly eats hay and other dry foods, it may not survive long without water.

Sheep that eat watery foods such as fruits (watermelons, pineapples, cucumbers), fresh leaves, etc. can survive longer. One breed, the Merino, can survive as long as 10 days without water.

Final Thoughts

It is an old wives’ tale that sheep will not drink from running waters. Sheep will drink every kind of water, so you need to make sure that your sheep are drinking from a clean water source.

Make sure that you give your sheep enough water and watch them closely when they drink from fast-flowing streams.