NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: sheep eating bark  (Read 3990 times)

Whittsend

  • Joined May 2013
sheep eating bark
« on: February 27, 2014, 04:43:51 pm »
I have three Coloured Ryeland ewes that I keep for their wool and as pets. They have been eating quite large areas of bark from  a row of old hawthorn and blackthorn trees in their field.   They are just two years old and not in lamb. They have been getting small amounts of sheep course mix morning and evening and hay twice a day ( My horse had to share their paddock for a couple of months and grazed  more than his fair share of the acre field in the autumn). They always have a mineral  lick ( "Baby Yellow" suitable for sheep). Does anyone have any suggestions as to why they have started doing this?  Is their diet lacking in something or is there another reason for doing this. They always have uneaten hay in the field so I don't believe they are hungry. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Alisonx
Voss Electric Fence

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: sheep eating bark
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2014, 04:47:53 pm »
Some of my CRs do it if they get the chance. I think they simply like it.

Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: sheep eating bark
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2014, 05:10:46 pm »
Grass at this time of year is lacking nutrients, I would suspect that they are just trying to compensate for that.  Mine tend to do it in winter too.

Ladygrey

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Basingstoke
Re: sheep eating bark
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2014, 05:29:47 pm »
My shetlands will consume bark, branches and trees all year round.... even if they have grass coming out of their ears.... they have reduced small fruit trees to stumps in the summer time!!!!!

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: sheep eating bark
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2014, 05:33:55 pm »
Have a look at my website and you'll see what sheep can do to cut willow branches  :tree:.  There are minerals, vitamins and trace elements under the bark which are especially good for sheep in the winter.  Old hawthorn and blackthorn won't be supplying them with tiptop nutrients though (especially blackthorn which I think might in fact be a bit toxic - does anyone know?) so see if you can get them some branches of willow or ash.  Sheep are particularly fond of apple and pear trees, so make sure any trunks are protected.

They're just being sheep  :thumbsup: :sheep: :sheep: :sheep:


(cross posted with Ladygrey)
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

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Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: sheep eating bark
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2014, 07:38:44 pm »
The sap is beginning to rise now in deciduous trees - Yummy!

goosepimple

  • Joined May 2010
  • nr Lauder, Scottish Borders
Re: sheep eating bark
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2014, 08:41:06 pm »
Yes, you should put branches out for them, they love it, odd that most farmers don't even know that actually.
registered soay, castlemilk moorit  and north ronaldsay sheep, pygmy goats, steinbacher geese, muscovy ducks, various hens, lots of visiting mallards, a naughty border collie, a puss and a couple of guinea pigs

rkardo

  • Joined Feb 2014
Re: sheep eating bark
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2014, 09:21:25 pm »
If I remember correctly from school ruminants eat bark because they can actually digest the cellulose in it and since cellulose is pure sugar in very long strains I would assume it is easy calories for them (sheep treats???), on the old herd there were a couple that ate pine boards from the gate... Sheep :huff:

Tim W

  • Joined Aug 2013
Re: sheep eating bark
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2014, 09:23:35 pm »
Depending on how much they are eating I would be more worried about the effect on the trees

Whittsend

  • Joined May 2013
Re: sheep eating bark
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2014, 09:46:43 am »
Thank you to everyone who has replied. After Ladygrey's reply I checked the hedge again this morning. They have hardly touched the blackthorn trees and the two they have really munched away at the most are actually crab apple. I had forgotten they were part of the old hedge. Seems like they are just having tasty treats over the winter months. I hope the trees survive!! Thanks again .x

Bramblecot

  • Joined Jul 2008
Re: sheep eating bark
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2014, 04:36:48 pm »
I put out branches of hazel and willow, ivy (without berries) and any apple prunings.  The sheep love them :yum: :sheep: :yum: .  It also gives them somehting to do if theyhave tobe penned.

 

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