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Can sheep eat cucumbers?
Almost every year, me or my family, wound up with some vegetables to spare from our gardens. Either we end up with too much of it or maybe the hail or salt winds damage it. All in all, you’re bound to have something extra every year. More often than not, something like that happens with my cucumbers. Some of the extra you might give out to your friends and family, but what about the rest? Farm animals to the rescue. Can they rid you of the extra? In this post, we’ll discuss if sheep can be the ones to help you with the excess cucumbers problem. So the first question to ask here would be, can sheep eat cucumbers?
Sheep can eat cucumbers. By definition, sheep are herbivores, and herbivores primarily eat plant material. Cucumbers are a type of plant. However, the more important question then is if cucumbers are the right type of plants for sheep. Should they be a part of a balanced sheep diet and do they actually have anything nutritionally valuable for sheep?
The primary sheep diet should consist of grass or hay. That’s it, you don’t really need anything else. In some climates, you might need salt mineral stones, but since I live on the coast, my sheep have no need for them. Everything else can be regarded as a treat. Cucumbers as well.
If you insist on adding cucumbers to your sheep diet, you can regard them as a good source of hydration and some minerals, vitamins (vitamins C and K), and antioxidants. So, adding them in the midst of summer heat might be a great idea to quench your sheep thirst.
Can sheep eat cucumber leaves?
Sheep can eat cucumber leaves. Sheep don’t need them in their diet, but if added they represent a good source of fiber. Fiber helps your sheep maintain a healthy digestive system.
How to encourage sheep to eat cucumbers?
Sometimes all, or maybe some, of your sheep won’t even come close to cucumbers. Either cucumbers themselves or their leaves. Well, there are a few things you can do to encourage them. The following list actually applies to pretty much any additional feed you’re trying to add to your sheep diet:
- Cut cucumbers into smaller pieces: You can try slicing cucumbers. You’ll release their aroma in that way and maybe encourage sheep to give them a taste. You can try with one cucumber and see what happens.
- Change the time of the day when offering them cucumbers: Maybe a different time of the day is the solution that will work for you. Also, you can try to offer them cucumbers just before you feed them hay. Their hunger might just give them that small nudge into trying.
- Mix with other feed: If you mix cucumbers with e.g. hay, sheep might not even notice them. A great way to get rid of cucumbers. They may get familiar with the texture and taste and might want to eat them solo later on.
- Change places: Put cucumbers in different places. Maybe even try feeding cucumbers from your hands.
- Introduce gradually: don’t forget to start with small amounts and then gradually increase the offered amount. This is important even for the sheep themselves. You want to see how your ruminant’s stomachs tolerate the new feed. So, start small.
Sometimes nothing will work. But, don’t worry. You’re not depriving your sheep of any important nutrients. Cucumbers can and always will be just a treat to sheep, just like bread or apples. Think of some other way to solve your cucumber problem. Maybe you can compost them.
What maximum percentage of sheep diet can consist of cucumbers?
Only a small portion of sheep diet should consist of cucumbers. They’re not supposed to be a primary source of nutrition for sheep. While the correct maximum number percentage is not established, the primary rule still applies. The percentage can depend on various factors like sheep age and health, even the location of your farm or the season you’re currently in. I live in a dry and salty place, so cucumber is always a good source of hydration for my sheep. While not all of them will eat them, some of them will go nuts when I throw the cucumbers into their enclosure.
Is there any part of the cucumber that is toxic to sheep?
When consumed in small quantities, there is nothing from the cucumber plant that is toxic for sheep. Cucumber seeds, leaves, and plant stems contain something called cucurbitacins (they give bitterness to the cucumbers). Cucurbitacins are toxic compounds and if consumed in large quantities can cause digestive issues in your sheep. There are even some compounds in cucumber leaves and stems that can make your sheep more sensitive to sunlight, but you shouldn’t have to worry about that as well, so long as you keep the consumed quantities of cucumbers to a low level.
Just remember, cucumbers are just a treat to sheep. The treat that they don’t actually need. So, start small. Introduce the cucumbers gradually, and monitor your sheep whenever you’re making a change in their diet.
I have sheep that are fenced with my cucumber plants and they keep eating the cucumbers. How can I protect the cucumbers from sheep?
I had that problem. Well not me directly, but my neighbors when my sheep entered their yards, gardens, or farmlands. For me, the solution was kind of unfortunate, as my neighbors are not maintaining their gardens and farmlands anymore, so that problem resolved itself. But, I was considering the following options:
- Better fencing: Make a high, sturdy fence from wire or mesh. I have low walls made from stone between me and my neighbors and I was thinking of either extending them with more stone or some wire fence, but it would look really bad. My sheep are climbers, so the fence would have to be quite high.
- Use repellents: I’m not a fan of using commercial repellents as I have kids and they run all around touching everything. If you have to, try some natural repellents. I haven’t tried any, so I can’t recommend any brand.
- Netting your cucumbers: If you have the resources, you can always put a bird net over your whole garden. I don’t like this solution at all, it’s quite impractical. But, the idea stands.
- Move your sheep: Maybe some of you have that choice. If you can, why not move sheep or even your garden away from each other?
- Guard animals: I have no experience there, but some folks recommend donkeys (maybe even llamas) as guard animals for your garden. They won’t let sheep come close to their territory. While that sounds like a neat idea, I once had a donkey, and it was nothing but friendly to my sheep. So this solution wouldn’t work for me. Maybe if the donkey was raised away from sheep.
Hopefully, one of the ideas could be helpful in your situation. Take care of your cucumbers, but don’t do something that might hurt your sheep, like some toxic repellent.
Sheep can eat cucumbers, but only in moderation. Consider cucumbers only as a treat for your sheep. When adding a new feed to your sheep diet, monitor them for a few days. Good luck.