Sheep are known as pure herbivores, meaning they can only eat plant matter and other plant-derived nutrition. This means a steady diet of grass, hay, various foliage, and even a limited selection of fruits and vegetables.
That being said, there are a few things in those categories that can surprise you. What other foods can sheep eat that might be surprising?
How about eggs? Can sheep eat eggs?
No, sheep should not eat eggs. Sheep are herbivores, and should not eat meat or animal-derived proteins in any way. Consuming eggs is highly likely to make sheep very ill, and can lead to devastating health consequences.
And there you have it. It makes sense, when you have an animal that is not intended to eat meat they cannot have any other foods that are basically nothing but various animal proteins.
That being said, this answer might not be as entirely clear as you might think.
Keep reading to learn everything there is to know about eggs and why you shouldn’t feed them to sheep.
Sheep are Herbivores, Not Carnivores or Omnivores
The first and most important thing you need to know is that sheep are pure herbivores.
This means their stomachs, intestines, and overall digestive system is not built to properly process or extract nutrition from animal flesh or any other animal-derived proteins.
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that since a sheep can eat grass and hay, they must be able to eat just about anything. This simply isn’t true.
Just because an animal can physically consume something doesn’t mean their body can properly digest it and extract the nutrients they need from it.
For example, cows are also purely herbivorous animals.
However, there have been cases of cows eating plastic bags and other trash because they mistake it for food or because it was mixed in with hay or other things they eat.
Just because they can eat it doesn’t mean they should! That’s an extreme example, but the same logic applies to eggs and sheep.
Just because sheep can technically consume eggs, physically ingest them, does not mean they are able to properly digest them or extract any nutrition from them.
In fact, feeding eggs to sheep is very likely to do more harm than good.
Eating Eggs Will Make Sheep Terribly Sick
While their stomachs are designed to break down plant matter, they lack the ability to properly digest animal proteins. This can lead to blockages and other gastrointestinal issues.
The good news is that there are usually telltale signs that a sheep has been indulging in such forbidden foods.
For example, they may have trouble defecating, or their stools may be bloody. No matter what, it will cause all sorts of digestive havoc.
If you were to feed a sheep an egg, the first thing that would happen is that the egg would start to rot and decompose inside the sheep’s stomach. The egg would just sit there and start to rot.
This can cause the sheep to experience extreme discomfort, pain, bloating, and nausea.
In addition to all of this, the bacteria from the rotting egg could potentially enter the bloodstream and cause septicemia, or blood poisoning.
This is a very serious condition that can lead to organ failure and death if not treated immediately.
Can Sheep Eat Eggs Raw?
No, sheep should not eat raw eggs.
Can Sheep Eat Eggs Cooked?
No. Cooking does nothing to make eggs safer or more digestible for sheep.
Lambs Should Not Eat Eggs
Eggs are bad for adults, but can be devastating for lambs.
A lamb’s stomach is even more delicate than an adult sheep’s, and they are even less able to digest animal proteins.
If a lamb were to eat an egg, it could easily become bloated and have trouble defecating.
This would rapidly lead to an escalating sequence of illness and injury that will likely kill the poor thing.
Egg-derived Ingredients are Used in Some Lamb Supplements
Though whole eggs and cooked eggs are no good for sheep and lambs, eggs are seeing some use in supplements for both.
This is because egg products are a very rich source of protein and other nutrients.
For example, one popular lamb supplement contains dried egg product as one of its key ingredients.
This particular supplement is designed to be used during periods of rapid growth, such as when lambs are being weaned off their mother’s milk or when they are being bred.
While this may seem like a contradictory use of eggs, and it is, there is some evidence to suggest these supplements work as intended.
However, there is a growing clamor among various professionals and keepers that no good will ultimately utilizing animal-sourced proteins for supplementing the diet of an herbivore.
Why do these supplements work in the first place, and why do they have staunch proponents if eggs are bad for sheep? It could be that, due to the processing of the ingredients involved in its manufacture the digestive systems of sheep are able to handle them with seemingly no ill effect.
On the other hand, this practice is new and has hardly been proven safe definitively. In any case, you should never feed your sheep raw or cooked eggs.
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.