Most new sheep owners know that the members of their new flock are herbivores, and graze on grass and other greenery. But what you might not know is that sheep eat more than just pasturage.
They actually eat all sorts of fruits and vegetables, including some things that you and I eat. How about celery? Can sheep eat celery?
Yes, sheep can eat celery, and it is a nutritious and refreshing snack for them. Celery contains a good assortment of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B5 and B6, folate, and vitamin K along with potassium calcium, and phosphorus.
Sheep do indeed need to live primarily on grass and hay, but other choice produce can be just the thing to round out their diet and keep them happy and healthy.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about feeding celery to your sheep
Health Benefits of Celery for Sheep
Celery is sometimes humorously called the anti-vegetable, and is the source of all kinds of wild speculation and rumor regarding its nutritional content.
Some people say it actually has negative calories because it costs your body more energy to chew and digest it then you get out of the celery itself, or that celery doesn’t have any real nutrition.
Luckily, both claims are false, for people and for sheep.
Celery is not packed with nutrition but it does contain a wide variety and a decent amount, including vitamin A, vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and folate along with a little vitamin C and vitamin E and a surprising amount of vitamin K.
The mineral content, although fairly meager compared to other vegetables, is nothing to turn your nose up at.
Celery contains a fair amount of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium along with iron and sodium.
Celery also notably contains some copper, which sheep are highly sensitive to as they don’t need very much in their diet at all.
However, so long as you are not feeding them large quantities of celery on the regular this won’t be an issue.
Can Sheep Eat Celery Raw?
Yes, sheep may eat raw celery and this is the best way to serve it to them. Raw celery maintains maximum nutritional value, and it is cool, crisp, and easy for sheep to eat.
Can Sheep Eat Celery Leaves?
Yes. Your sheep will love celery leaves or celery tops nearly as much as the stalks themselves, and there are another good source of vitamins and minerals.
Can Sheep Eat Celery Cooked?
Yes, sheep may also eat cooked celery.
However, there is no great incentive to cook celery prior to giving it to them as this will both substantially deplete what nutrients it contains, and it also doesn’t make it too much easier for them to chew and swallow.
Never Feed Celery to Sheep that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
If, for whatever reason, you decide to cook celery for your sheep or maybe you already have plenty of cooked celery on hand and prefer to give it to them, make sure it is free of any harmful ingredients.
Many things that people tend to cook with celery or use celery as an ingredient in are very harmful for sheep.
Things like salt, sugar, oils, butters, broths or consommés, and things of that nature will all negatively affect the health of your sheep.
First, sheep never need to eat any animal-derived protein or meat. Second, things like sugar, butters and oils will all upset the digestive system of your sheep and can lead to serious weight gain.
But the worst is yet to come. Even more serious illnesses could arise from eating these things.
Peritonitis, or an inflammation of the intestinal lining, bloat, and rumen imbalance are all possibilities that will prove to be agonizing for sheep and potentially even fatal.
If you’re going to give cooked celery to sheep, it must be plain.
Beware of Pesticides on Grocery-bought Celery
Another consideration to keep in mind before giving celery to sheep.
If you purchased celery from the grocery store for that purpose, no that it has likely been treated from planting to harvest with lots of pesticides.
These pesticides, although they are supposed to be safe, have been linked to all sorts of health issues in mammals.
Particularly when consumed over time, these chemicals can cause cancer, reproductive harm, neurological damage, metabolic problems, and more.
Your best bet, if you aren’t growing celery yourself, is to purchase organic and certified pesticide-free varieties.
Lacking either of these two options, make sure you thoroughly wash celery prior to giving it to your sheep.
How Often Can Sheep Have Celery?
Celery is healthy for sheep, and most sheep certainly love eating it, but it isn’t something they can have all the time.
In fact, they should have it in pretty limited quantities. A small serving, per sheep, once or twice a week is plenty.
Bradley speaking, sheep should be subsisting on their pasturage for 75% of their total calorie intake, week in and week out.
The remaining 25% of their calories can come from healthy, safe produce and supplemental foods, of which celery can be a part but it should not be the only part.
Caution: Celery Contains Copper
A particular concern with celery is it copper content. Sheep have a very low tolerance for copper in their body before it becomes toxic, and what’s worse it can build up in their liver over time, persisting for upwards of a year.
That means that regular ingestion of foods that are high in copper can easily lead to copper poisoning in sheep and a whole host of negative health effects.
Celery contains copper. Not very much mind you, but enough that it could become a medically significant if you are giving it to sheep all the time as their supplemental vegetable or other feed.
But, this is of little concern if you remember to simply mix up the snacks and treats that you give your sheep and always be wary of foods that contain lots of copper.
Preparing Celery for Your Flock
Celery requires a little bit of preparation for best results if you’re going to feed it to your sheep. What you shouldn’t do is give it to sheep as a whole stalk or cluster.
Sheep cannot open their mouths very wide and have trouble chewing larger pieces of food.
The stringiness of celery leads to it remaining more or less whole as sheep try to chew and swallow it since they cannot easily bite a piece of it off.
But all you’ll need to do is chop up celery into small pieces for your sheep. You can cut the greens off of whole celery and give them a rough chop, also.
Doing this, you can feed the celery to your sheep out of hand, put in a feeder, on a bowl, or any other way they like to eat it.
Can Lambs Have Celery, Too?
Yes, lambs can also eat celery but they should be old enough to the point where they are consistently eating solid food before you let them try it.
Also, keep in mind that lambs have a stringent nutritional requirements and also very sensitive digestive systems.
Any new, novel food such as celery could be enough to give them an upset stomach or diarrhea, and that can spell major trouble for a young sheep.
As always, keep the size of the pieces very small and the portions small as well.
Keep an eye on them, make sure they don’t suffer any ill effects and only feed it to them periodically as a treat until they grow up.
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.