Sheep are grazers, and that means they tend to roam around eating grass and other plant material that is close to the ground. And since sheep can also eat various fruits and vegetables, it makes perfect sense that they should be able to eat any of that typically grow near the ground, at a low height.
How about strawberries? Can sheep eat strawberries?
Yes, sheep can safely eat strawberries and they are generally nutritious for them. However, strawberries are high in sugar and should only be fed to sheep on a limited basis as a treat. So long as they don’t get too many, your sheep will benefit from the B vitamins and minerals present in strawberries.
Strawberries are healthy and wholesome, there is no question about that, but these sweet and juicy fruits are something that sheep might easily overindulge on, and that could cause trouble.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about feeding strawberries to your sheep.
Health Benefits of Strawberries for Sheep
Strawberries are sweet, tangy and highly aromatic, qualities that make them greatly beloved by people.
Though they are delicious, strawberries have a fairly meager nutritional component, but that doesn’t mean that your sheep cannot benefit from them.
Strawberries contain a small but decent assortment of B vitamins, including B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6, along with folate.
Strawberries contain a little bit of choline, a great amount of vitamin C, and finally a little bit of vitamins E and K.
Sadly, the greatest nutrient present in strawberries is vitamin C, but that is something that sheep make themselves inside their livers.
Although not totally wasted, it is not as big a deal for sheep to get vitamin C in their diet as it is for humans.
But then we also have the vitamins to consider. Strawberries contain a surprisingly good amount of manganese, but only a little bit of other minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.
Careful, Strawberries are High in Sugar
Strawberries are lovely fruits that your sheep will love, but they are also quite high in sugar. This means that you should take care not to overfeed them to your sheep.
While a little bit of sugar is no big deal for sheep, too much can lead to health problems.
When sheep eat a diet that is too rich in sugar, it will wreak havoc on their digestive system, particularly the delicate balance of microorganisms in their rumen.
When this balance is disturbed, it can lead to all sorts of problems, such as bloat, scours and even laminitis.
So, while strawberries are fine for sheep to eat, they should only be given on occasion and in moderation.
If you want to give your sheep a treat, then a few strawberries here and there will certainly not hurt them, but don’t let them gorge on these sweet fruits.
Can Sheep Eat Strawberries Raw?
Yes, and this is the best way to serve them to your sheep. Raw strawberries are safe for sheep to eat and they will get the most benefit from them in this form.
Can Sheep Eat Strawberries Cooked?
Yes, but there is no really compelling reason to do so. Sheep can eat cooked strawberries, but they are not going to gain any additional benefit from them.
In fact, cooking strawberries will actually reduce their nutritional value, both the vitamins and minerals.
Since they are already a bit thin on nutrients even when at their ripest, you should pass on cooking them.
Never Feed Strawberries to Sheep that Has Been Prepared with Harmful Ingredients
Since we are discussing the prospect of cooking strawberries, now is a good time to remind you that you should never feed strawberries to your sheep that have been prepared with harmful ingredients, such as sugar or salt, or used as an ingredient in jam, preserves, cakes and the like.
All these things are delicious, no doubt about it, but they are also terrible for your sheep. At best, you can be facing problems like weight gain and major digestive upset (diarrhea or vomiting), but at worst it might promote conditions like bloat, peritonitis, and other such ailments. The latter in particular are agonizing for sheep, and may be fatal!
Save all the delicacies for yourself, your family or your friends; sheep should only get plain strawberries if they are cooked.
Beware of Pesticide on Grocery-bought Strawberries
One other word of warning: if you are going to give your sheep strawberries purchased from the grocery, try to make sure that they are pesticide-free.
Unfortunately, pretty much all commercially grown strawberries are sprayed with all sorts of harmful pesticide chemicals, and these chemicals have been linked to all sorts of health problems in animals.
Pesticide exposure has been linked to everything from developmental problems and birth defects to cancer, so you really don’t want your sheep eating any fruits or vegetables that have been sprayed with these toxic substances.
Sadly, strawberries are fairly notorious for their high rates of pesticide absorption, meaning washing is insufficient to significantly deplete what residues are on the flesh of the fruit.
The best way to avoid giving your sheep pesticide-laced strawberries is to grow your own. Barring that, it is best to buy organic and certified pesticide-free if possible.
If you can’t find organic strawberries, then be sure to wash them very well before giving them to your sheep.
How Often Can Sheep Have Strawberries?
While strawberries are perfectly safe, nutritionally, for your sheep to eat, you should only give them as a treat and not as part of their regular diet, not even as a regular supplemental item.
A good rule of thumb is to limit strawberry consumption to being an every-once-in-a-while treat, perhaps a small serving once a week, but no more.
Any more than that and you might start to see some problems.
Preparing Strawberries for Your Flock
Giving strawberries to your sheep is simple: Always wash the strawberries thoroughly in clean water to remove any dirt, some pesticide residues and other contaminants that might be on them.
Then, you may optionally remove the stem and leaves or cut the berries into halves or quarters to make them easier for your sheep to eat.
And that’s all there is to it! Your sheep can now enjoy the delicious taste of strawberries without any worries. Just remember not to give them too many, and they’ll be fine.
Can Lambs Have Strawberries, Too?
Yes, baby lambs can also have strawberries, but with similar limitations that adults have. Again, only give them as an occasional treat, and definitely consider removing the stem and leaves or cut the berries into smaller pieces to make them easier for lambs to eat.
Keep in mind that a lamb should be old enough to have started feeding on solid foods before you give them strawberries.
If they are still relying on bottle-feeding or nursing, then wait until they are older before giving them any solid foods, including treats like strawberries.
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.
Find out more about the team here.