When sheep are out in a field, they eat grass or hay. They can also be fed grains, such as corn, oats and soybeans. Sheep can also eat invasive plants, including privet and honeysuckle.
Sheep are ruminants, which means that they re-digest their food. Sheep do not chew their food very well, but it passes through the esophagus and down into the rumen. This part of the stomach ferments the food after it has been reduced to a smaller size. This process generally takes eight hours or more for mature sheep. Once the food is broken down and fermented, it passes into the true stomach, where digestion occurs, and into the large intestine for further fermentation.
Because sheep are able to eat a wide variety of foods, they are used as targeted grazers for landowners and entities that need an economical and environmentally-friendly way of managing invasive plant species and overgrown properties. Sheep feed on ivy and kudzu, and can stand on their hind legs to feed on taller plants. Sheep are able to work in areas that feature poison ivy and briars because of their thick wool. They are also able to graze on rocky, forested or steep properties on which using heavy machinery may not be practical.Learn More
A sheep's diet consists mainly of pasture plants, including grass, forbs and clovers. If there is enough pasture available to the sheep, and the climate permits year-round grazing, no additional food may be needed. If there is not enough forage available, a sheep's diet can be supplemented with items like high-quality hay and grain feed.Full Answer >
Female sheep, technically called ewes, are pregnant for 138 to 149 days. The average gestation period is 146 to 147 days. There are no visible signs of pregnancy until about six weeks before birth.Full Answer >
When given high-quality feed, cows generally consume from 2.2 to 2.5 percent of their body weight per day or around 11 to 12.5 pounds of food per day for a 500-pound cow. Feed quality, percentage of body fat, frame size and whether or not a cow is lactating can affect the amount of food a cow takes in.Full Answer >
Sheep were first domesticated over 10,000 years ago by people in ancient Mesopotamia. It is theorized that domesticated sheep were bred from the wild sheep species, the mouflon, based on their similar number of chromosomes.Full Answer >