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Can sheep eat bananas?
Sheep are ruminants and without exception, ruminant’s main diet source should be fresh pasture or stored hay. But, still, that doesn’t mean we can’t provide them with an occasional treat here and there. There are multiple reasons to give your sheep treats. Maybe you just want to spoil them a little bit, but maybe you want your sheep to think you always have something delicious in your pockets when you enter their field. The main reason for that would be to get the sheep to come to you as soon as they see you, and after that, you want to be able to calmly walk them from one pasture to another one that is filled with fresh green grass (If you have problems with them following you, the only other ‘easy’ solution would be to get and train a very good herding dog).
So, now you know that having treats can make sheep follow you, but you might have one other obstacle here. Some sheep will have to be trained to eat treats. It could happen to you that most sheep will not just gobble up anything you give them, but once they try it, they most certainly will. If you encounter problems like that try with the gradual introduction of a new treat to their diet, they just might develop a taste for it. Try mixing it with any standard feed you provide your sheep with. And, now, to bananas. Can they be defined as treats and can/should sheep actually eat them?
Yes, sheep can eat bananas. Sheep are ruminants, however, they will eat almost any vegetable or fruit that is given to them. Banana is listed among the principal crops that are useful for humans and sheep alike. Humans can consume fruit, stem (only inner part), flower and root, and sheep can consume everything already listed, and banana leaves as well. But, even if they can, doesn’t mean that sheep should consume bananas in large quantities. Their digestive system is designed around grass and hay. Anything other than that can be detrimental to their health if consumed in abundance.
Let’s talk about sheep treats consumption just a little bit more. We people like treats and we usually automatically assume that other animals like them as well. That is most certainly not true. Sheep do not gather together at the end of the day and discuss how today’s hay was boring and that they would like something different and tastier tomorrow. I believe that the lives of sheep should be as boring and dull as possible. And for the sheep diet that means focusing on hay and pasture quality rather than focusing on providing them with different treats every now and then. Slight change to this stability in their diet should be applied only when special conditions are met, like pregnancy or sickness. Even then, remember to apply changes to their diet very slowly.
Try not to experiment too much with treats, so you don’t end up being that person that comes online to cry how their sheep are not feeling well. Stick with basics and provide them with treats only rarely.
Sheep are attracted to yellow
I can’t confirm this statement, but whenever I let sheep roam free at the new pasture, and if it’s the correct season, they’ll eat all the yellow flowers, like dandelions, in an instant. They’re not yellow colorblind and it seems like they can spot and attack yellow things immidiatelly.
So, if we take this into consideration, bananas might actually be perfect treats with which you can try attracting sheep to you. And when you have their attention, you should be able to lead them to new pastures or new water sources without any issues.
Will sheep eat banana trees?
So, you have banana trees spread out in one part of your farm, and you’d like to let your sheep roam freely in that part of your property. Your question is will your sheep eat, chew and in the end destroy banana trees?
Sheep are grazers by definition, and that would mean that they mostly eat short plants close to the ground. But, official definitions aside, your banana trees, like all other trees on your property, are not completely safe from your grazers. The younger and shorter the tree is, the more likely sheep will try to nibble on it. They might even eat them down to nothing. You should consider protecting and fencing the trees. Of course, there are too many variables in this question. It depends on the sheep breed, on the quantity of fresh grass in their vicinity (their preferred feed), banana tree’s age, etc. In the end, even if they might not like the taste, sheep might eat banana leaves and bark just because they are sheep.
Can sheep eat banana leaves?
Yes, without any issues. Sheep can eat banana leaves. Sheep, goats, cows, donkeys and horses, they all like and can eat banana leaves. In some regions of the world people even purposely grow certain banana types and use their banana leaves for feeding their livestock. One such example comes from Asia. The banana variant is called the yellow (or dwarf) Chinese banana (Musella lasiocarpa). So, to conclude, banana leaves are safe to eat. You can quite often see people using banana leaves to steam fish and rice in them.
If you want to dig deeper into this question, I found two research papers that deal with this question. The first research questions and evaluates feed intake, digestibility, body weight change, and carcass characteristics of sheep fed a diet of hay supplemented with banana leaves. The second research questions if sheep fed with banana leaves get reduced ruminal protozoa population and if this is the way to reduce methane production and increase the energy efficiency utilization by ruminants.
Can sheep eat banana peels or skins? What about pesticides in banana skins?
Sheep could have a lot of benefits from the consumption of banana peels. It seems that the peels contain some sort of enzymes that actually act as catalysts in the breakdown of plant cellular walls. Sheep will chomp the skins with gusto, just like the rest of the fruit. There are even many stories of mountain sheep, like the ones from North Wales, that actually seek out tourist’s leftover banana peels. Sometimes they even get close to passing backpackers and wait for that yellow, fruity treasure.
Let’s tackle our final question. Now we know that sheep like banana fruits, leaves, and even banana bark. But we also know that bananas are one of the most heavily pesticide-laden fruits in the world. So, is it healthy for sheep to consume banana peels? Even washing the banana peel won’t remove all pesticide residues. It seems that once again, people with their own banana trees, if they don’t use problematic pesticides, are the ones that can give their sheep the whole bananas even with the skin on. The rest of us should probably stick to the inner part of the fruit only.
Sheep eating bananas videos
One pet sheep likes bananas with peels:
One banana eating sheep:
Sheep stealing a whole hand of bananas:
Sheep eating banana peels: