Everyone has heard the old adage – “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, and it definitely has truth attached to it. Apples are delicious fruits packed to the brim with various vital nutrients. No matter how you eat them – whole, peeled, sliced, diced, in pies, crumbles, other desserts, juices, you can always gain beneficial results with apples. Now we come to whether apples are a good option for sheep, and if so, what benefits do these animals gain from the fruits. In all essentiality, can sheep eat apples?
So, can sheep eat apples? Yes, sheep can eat apples in small to moderate quantities. Apples are as much beneficial to them as it is for other animals. But since apple seeds are poisonous to sheep, make sure apples are deseeded before feeding them to sheep.
There are some things you should keep in mind before giving your sheep apples to eat.
Taking care to scoop out the seeds and stem of the apple before feeding your sheep, washing the apples thoroughly, and cutting of the fruit into small pieces so that your sheep can chew the pieces properly instead of choking on them are some of the things you need to keep in mind.
This begs the question – how are apples beneficial for sheep?
Health benefits of eating apples
Apples are full of health perks and advantages that will strengthen and improve your body from both the inside as well as outside.
Apples are a rich source of fiber (concentrated on the skin) and potassium. Fiber is very important for good digestion and healthy bowel movement.
On the other hand, potassium is necessary for the proper regulation of the bodily balance of fluids and nerve signals and monitors and controls the muscle contractions in the body, especially those muscles concerned with breathing and the beating of the heart.
Potassium helps manage blood pressure and the retention of water in the body. It also offers protection against renal calculi (also known as the nefarious kidney stone) and stroke.
Various vitamins are part of the genetic makeup of the apple fruit. Apples are full of vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, E, and K.
The main duties of these vitamins are:
- Vitamin A is vital for good eyes and strong, healthy immunity to fight against diseases and infections.
- Vitamin B1 is important for regulating carbohydrates as a form of energy.
- Vitamin B2 is important for the proper workings inside the body and helps the body use the oxygen acquired by the lungs.
- Vitamin B6 is required in the production of hemoglobin.
- Vitamin E acts as a powerful antioxidant and helps eliminate toxic free radicals.
- Vitamin K helps in the clotting of the blood.
- Finally, vitamin C helps in the growth and repair of cells and promotes functional development in the body.
Eating a medium-sized apple every day is better than depending on multivitamin tablets that have shown to be more harmful than good for the body.
Apples are also a rich source of iron, and iron is very important for the production of hemoglobin that carries oxygen to the different parts of your body.
Apples are a powerhouse of nutrients, so how good is it for sheep?
How do sheep benefit from eating apples?
You may find your sheep resistant to any new food, so you may want to mix the food with the usual feed when introducing it to your sheep. Sheep love eating apples, so you can start by giving them small, cutup pieces of the fleshy red fruit.
Apples are a nutritious food snack for sheep and other animals. Apples help balance the pH levels in the stomachs of sheep and other ruminants.
Apples offer balanced nutrition for sheep – the multitude of vitamins and minerals found in apples are very good for their health. Many of these nutrients cannot either be found in the usual feed of the sheep or are present but in negligible quantities.
Therefore, apples are a great source of nutrients for sheep and ensure these animals do not suffer the lack of these essential nutrients.
Apple skins are a very important source of roughage and bits of apple skins can be mixed into the regular feed of these animals.
It is important to offer a diverse diet to sheep so that they can gain as many nutrients as possible. Apples can be offered to sheep as a treat every now and then. It should always be given to sheep as a supplementary food item, and never replace a fully balanced meal.
An important addendum is that whenever you give your sheep anything to eat, always make sure your sheep have access to fresh, clean drinking water. Water is vital for sheep as it is for other creatures.
Things you need to keep in mind before you feed apples to sheep
We have established that apples are a great source of vitamins, roughage, and potassium. However, there are some things you should watch out for if you are planning to give apples to sheep.
The main danger in feeding apples to sheep is that a whole apple or big chunks of the fruit can pose a choking hazard. If you plan to give apples to sheep, make sure you cut them up in really small pieces or thin slices before feeding the fruit.
Apple seeds can be poisonous for sheep – the seeds carry small amounts of the poison Cyanide in them. Scoop out the apples’ insides prior to giving them to your sheep to avoid any toxicity in your sheep.
One of the most important things you need to keep in mind is that apples should only be given to sheep as treats or supplementary foods and must never be a substitute for proper meals.
Apples are admittedly full of important nutrients, but that does not mean apples are the sole source of nutrition for sheep. These fruits do not contain all the nutrients required in the body of a sheep to execute the inner biological functions.
Sheep should be put on a healthy diet of hay, forbs, grass, legumes, haylage, silage, and commercial foods. Sheep should also be allowed to graze at pastures devoid of any plants toxic and dangerous to their health.
Always wash apples thoroughly in clean water before giving them to your sheep for consumption. Some people put a layer of paint and/ or wax on the skin of the apple when selling the fruits to make them look fresher. These unhealthy additions are dangerous for people as well as animals, so soak the apples in warm water for at least an hour before eating them or giving it to your sheep.
Apples should form only ten to twenty percent of a sheep’s diet – too many apples can cause painful bloating in these animals. The acidity of too many apples can trap gastrointestinal gasses inside the sheep, and cause painful blockages or disturbances in the bowels of the sheep. Sheep suffer from stomach aches and internal discomfort caused by bloat.
Too many apples can cause other gastrointestinal and internal issues – sheep can suffer bouts of diarrhea and have a dangerous buildup of gases if they are allowed to eat too many apples.
In conclusion, yes, apples are safe for sheep, and you can give these fruits to your sheep. You can give them raw apples as long as you break down the bigger pieces to avoid any choking hazards.
You can mix some pieces of apple and oats for your sheep – the ruminants are very fond of this treat. You can also add apple skin scraps to the regular feed of your sheep.
Apples are good for sheep as long as they are given moderate amounts of the fruit, and used as a treat, and not as an alternate for meals.
Remember, moderation is the key.