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Can sheep eat watermelon?
We all know and love watermelon. Watermelon is a tasty, thirst-quenching fruit. It’s best consumed during the summer heat. The fruit contains a very high percentage of water and various healthy nutrients, like vitamins A and C. Some studies that were investigating watermelon’s benefits for people say that this sweet melon can decrease body inflammation and muscle soreness. And while watermelon might be very tasty, nutritious, and even slightly healthy for people, here we have to discuss if all those benefits apply to sheep as well. So, let’s tackle the first question, can sheep eat watermelon?
Sheep can eat watermelon. It won’t do much for them nutritionally as it contains over 90% water, but it’s a great thirst-quenching melon. Watermelon contains some vitamins that could benefit sheep, but in no way can you consider it a feed replacement, only a tasty treat. Sheep will eat the rinds, seeds, vines, and flesh of the watermelon as well. Pink flesh might be more popular with your sheep, but they won’t discriminate and will consume green rinds as well, even the most outermost hard parts of the watermelon. Watermelon rinds are rich in fiber and are nice supplements to sheep’s standard diet.
Is watermelon toxic to sheep?
Watermelon is not toxic to sheep. It contains mostly water and some minerals. It’s thirst-quenching, but nothing more than that.
Still, there are some things that you should be aware of when feeding watermelon to your sheep. First, as with all sheep treats, they should be given in moderation. Why? Sheep are not omnivores, they don’t benefit from diversity in their diet. They would be perfectly happy and healthy with grass and hay only. They are ruminants and their rumen (stomach) bacteria adapt very slowly to the new feed. So, if you have a lot of extra watermelons, don’t just throw them at your sheep, add them to their diet slowly.
The second thing that you should be careful about when giving watermelon to your sheep is a potential choking hazard. You don’t want to harm your sheep, but that can happen when you feed them with hard foods (watermelon rind) that can get stuck in the sheep’s esophagus. So, how to handle this potential problem? Any hard treats should be cut into small bite-sized pieces before they’re given to sheep. This applies especially to young lambs and old sheep that might have missing molars and may be unable to chew properly. Besides watermelon rind, other popular feeds that you should cut into small pieces are apples and carrots. Watermelon seeds are small, so they’re not a choking hazard for sheep, but various fruits with large pits can be very dangerous. So, if you ever decide to give peaches, nectarines, or plums to your sheep, be sure to remove the pits first.
Why should you give watermelon to sheep?
Sheep are tame and sometimes quite nervous animals. They might need a slow approach and a lot of coaxing and gentle persuasion. Besides that, they can be quite stubborn and you might need a lot of time to pull them from their comfort zones. Treats are a great tool to shorten that time. You can use treats to encourage sheep to trust you and strengthen your bond with them. Still, be very careful in selecting fruits and vegetables that you can actually use like treats for sheep.
Some safe, tasty, and healthy treats for sheep:
How to introduce watermelon to the sheep diet?
Like with all new feeds in your sheep diet, you might have problems introducing it to your flock. Some sheep might attack the melons immediately, but some could be stubborn and avoid them altogether. With the stubborn ones, you can add watermelon slowly and mix it with their regular feed. Keep raising the watermelon percentage until they get accustomed to the taste of the fruit.
Can sheep eat watermelon rind or skin?
Sheep can eat watermelon rind. Cut it into chewable pieces before giving it to your sheep.
Can lambs eat watermelon?
Lambs can eat watermelon, with the same restrictions as sheep. Only in moderation, and cut into even smaller pieces if giving them watermelon rind.