Forages such as grass or grass hay should make up the majority of the diet for all sheep. Additionally a small amount of alfalfa hay can be fed to growing, pregnant and lactating sheep. Alfalfa hay should only be fed sparingly to non-pregnant ewes and rams. High percentages of alfalfa in the diet can also increase the risk of frothy bloat in sheep.
Grains are high in carbohydrates, and should be fed sparingly to sheep. Sweet feed should not be fed to sheep, as the high amounts of sugar and starch can cause digestive upsets such as bloat and ruminal acidosis. If grains are fed, they should be fed as a commercial pelleted feed designed for sheep. Choose a sheep feed formula based on the life stage of your sheep (i.e. growth, lactation, etc). Feed amounts according to label recommendations to prevent obesity. Never feed grain or pelleted feeds free choice. Do not feed “show sheep” formulas to pet sheep, as they are too high in calories. Pelleted feeds many not be necessary for inactive or pet sheep not used for breeding. Instead, supplement grass hay or pasture with a sheep mineral as described below.
Minerals & Salt
Sheep have very low threshold for toxicity of dietary copper. Provide free choice access to a mineral salt block or a loose mineral/salt mix specifically designed for sheep. Sheep should not have access to loose minerals or mineral blocks designed for other species unless they are formulated for use by multiple species including sheep, and contain no added copper. If a sheep mineral is not available, provide access to a plain white salt block or plain loose salt without minerals. Provide minerals/salt in a small bucket or feed pan in a dry area.
All sheep should have access to fresh, clean water at all times.