Sheep are grazers, herbivores that eat primarily all sorts of pasturage, including grasses, hay, and other low-growing plant material.
But sheep can also eat fruits and vegetables, including several wild-growing varieties that are commonly encountered today.
How about blueberries? Can sheep eat blueberries?
Yes, sheep can eat blueberries and will benefit from the vitamins and minerals they contain, particularly vitamin k, manganese, and potassium. However, you should only let sheep eat blueberries on a limited basis since they are so sweet and can cause digestive upset.
No surprises here. Blueberries are sweet, nutritious, and safe, making them nearly a perfect snack for your sheep.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about giving blueberries to your flock.
Health Benefits of Blueberries for Sheep
Blueberries are loved for their delicious taste and aroma, but they aren’t just a sweet treat.
They have a modest but meaningful load of vitamins and minerals also that will give your sheep a boost of nutrition.
Blueberries contain a fair selection of the B vitamins, including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and folate.
They also hold a little bit of vitamin E and a good bit of vitamins C and K, although sheep cannot make much use of the vitamin C since they produce their own internally.
The mineral content of blueberries is similarly varied though most of them are lacking somewhat.
Calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc are all present in small quantities, with the only exceptional mineral present being manganese.
However, blueberries are still a nutritious treat that will promote good cellular health in sheep and also help them make use of minerals already in the body.
Not for nothing, most sheep tend to love the taste of them and it will definitely put them in a good mood when they are eating them.
Can Sheep Eat Blueberries Raw?
Yes, they can. This is by far the best way to give them to your sheep since they are at their most nutritional in this state.
Cooking or processing blueberries in any way will remove some of the vitamins and minerals, making them a less nutritious treat for your sheep.
Considering that blueberries already lack somewhat when it comes to nutrient levels, you’ll want to keep them intact.
Can Sheep Eat Blueberries Cooked?
Yes. However, as mentioned cooking blueberries will deplete their nutritional content significantly.
Never Feed Blueberries to Sheep that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
On the topic of cooking, you should never feed blueberries to sheep that have been prepared with harmful ingredients such as sugar, butter, oil, bread, preservatives, or other additives.
Blueberries are commonly used as an ingredient in desserts but just because a dish contains blueberries does not mean it is safe for your sheep.
These ingredients can be toxic to sheep and cause severe health problems, everything from weight gain and diarrhea to serious and life-threatening ailments like bloat, peritonitis, and more.
Especially in the case of the latter maladies, they can mean an agonizing death for your poor sheep.
You might think it humorous to give your sheep some of the dessert that your family enjoys, but you could be dooming it to a painful death. Don’t do it!
Only ever give your sheep plain cooked blueberries that have no added ingredients whatsoever.
Beware of Pesticide on Grocery-bought Blueberries
Another risk with feeding blueberries to sheep usually comes in the fact of store-bought blueberries.
While you can find organic blueberries at some stores and farmer’s markets, the vast majority of blueberries that are commonly available have been sprayed with pesticides.
Pesticides are designed to kill insects, but they have been proven to have seriously harmful effects on mammals, especially over time.
They don’t discriminate between the insects they were meant to target and other animals when eaten.
These chemicals can be toxic to sheep and cause a wide variety of health problems, including but not limited to neurological damage, cancer, reproductive damage, and more.
If you must give your sheep store-bought blueberries, always wash them thoroughly beforehand to remove as much of the pesticide residue as possible.
It’s still not ideal, as berries tend to absorb some of these residues into their flesh, but it’s better than feeding them the berries straight from the package.
How Often Can Sheep Have Blueberries?
Blueberries are healthy and safe for sheep, but only when they eat them in limited quantities. Eating too many too quickly, or eating too many over time can cause problems.
For this reason, you should only give your sheep blueberries as an occasional treat, a small portion no more than once or twice a week.
For example, you might want to give them a few berries as a reward for being good when you’re working with them, or you could use them as an ingredient in a healthy and nutritious homemade sheep treat.
Just don’t go overboard and give them a whole bowlful, or you might end up with a sick sheep on your hands.
Preparing Blueberries for Your Flock
You don’t have to do a thing to prepare blueberries for your sheep. Just wash them if they’re store-bought, and then either give them to your sheep whole or cut them up into small pieces.
Some people like to mash them up first, but this isn’t really necessary unless you’re using them as an ingredient in a treat recipe.
Alternately, if you want to let sheep graze on blueberries growing wild just keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t overindulge.
Be prepared for some stained faces when they are done!
Can Lambs Have Blueberries, Too?
Yes, lambs can have blueberries once they are old enough to be off of milk and eating solid food all the time.
Even then, mind the quantity you give them; start with just a few berries and see how they do before giving them more.
Lambs have especially delicate stomachs and can easily develop diarrhea or other problems if they eat too many rich foods like blueberries.
With that said, blueberries can make a healthy and delicious treat for your flock, lambs included, so long as they enjoy them responsibly.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.
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