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Author Topic: How to get my sheep to eat hay  (Read 1172 times)

Macey Grey

  • Joined Oct 2022
How to get my sheep to eat hay
« on: November 03, 2022, 02:55:37 pm »
Hi everyone

This is my first post although not the first time on this site. This forum has been a life saver on so many topics and I just wanted to say how much I value the comments posted here. Thank you!

My sheep seems to have an aversion to eating hay! I've been layering hay, drizzled molasses and sprinkled ground up sheep nuts to entice her to eat it. This has been helpful, although rather time consuming. I've just read though that molasses has a high copper content so I'd need to make sure we're not over doing it. How much molasses can she have per day? She's about 8 years old and won't be having any lambs as she's a pet. Any other suggestions to make hay taste yummy? I'd also like to feed her soaked sugar beet pellets as apparently that will help fatten her up to keep nice and warm in the winter. Any suggestions which brand and how much per day? Any other thoughts welcome!

Backinwellies

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
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Re: How to get my sheep to eat hay
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2022, 04:36:27 pm »
She will eat good hay when she is hungry .... you dont need to dress it up. She is obviously still getting enough grass . A pet sheep does not need fattening up (she will get fat on just grass if there is enough) .     Do you only have one sheep? ... they are a flock animal ... one on its own is not a good idea.
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chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: How to get my sheep to eat hay
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2022, 06:07:16 pm »
Our pet ewe ate hay straight away because there was no grass left and so must have been hungry. But to add there were chickens for company. So either she still has better stuff to eat or she is lonely and has gone off her food? Our ewe was only two and went to a new home where she had two lambs and then was put onto bad grazing dying from liver fluke- should have found her a better home. Sure you are doing your best, but she probably needs company.

Macey Grey

  • Joined Oct 2022
Re: How to get my sheep to eat hay
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2022, 11:33:20 am »
Hi guys

Thanks for your replied. Sadly she's here all alone, and I totally agree with you, being a flock animal she needs pals. She's very tame so we give her lots of love, but I don't think it's the same. The problem is she's blind. I've asked various people, and the vet, and they all say that when a sheep is introduced into a flock, they often getting butted and rammed by the others. This would be really traumatic for her because she won't see the blow coming. It was also suggested that if she was introduced to lambs, then that would be ok. The problem is trying to find someone with a little flock of pet lambs who is willing to take on a blind sheep. As much as we would hate to see her go, we would love her to be with other sheep, happily living out the rest of her days. We're in Lee Bay, North Devon so if anyone knows of anyone willing, please let me know.

@ Chrismahon- I'm really sorry to hear about your ewe  :love:

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: How to get my sheep to eat hay
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2022, 11:57:05 pm »
On the subject of blind sheep, I'm not convinced they are happier in a flock, although that may depend on when and why they became blind. We had a blind lamb and she was very much a flock animal, using her hearing to stay in the middle of her pals. We have had several old ewes (up to 21 years) who get cataracts, so have lived a sighted life then become blind. Sometimes they are happiest in the flock with their relatives and offspring, or a friend who will look after them. We have a 17yo who went blind a couple of years ago. At first her best friend stayed with her, protected her, led her to food and water. Sadly the friend died last year and Elphie is now on her own, which she is perfectly happy with. The ewe flock is through the fence, but if they are in the paddock with her (she can't eat ALL that grass herself so it gets mob grazed every now and then), they shove her about and don't let her have her special rations (no teeth). At the moment she has the tupping group through the fence on one side and the unbred ewes on the other and has developed an interest in the tup. We know she wouldn't stand for him even if he jumps in so she can be lovesick for a bit if that appeals to her. She does listen to the rest of the flock and sometimes talks to them through the fence, she has hen friends in the pasture with her (we're in Scotland so no lockdown yet) and our pup loves to wash her ears.  The only time she is unhappy is when it's very windy and she can't hear where she is, so she will go to sit it out in her shelter.
I would not think it would necessarily be good for your ewe @Macey Grey  to be sent to live in with a new flock.  She would have no idea of her way round, she would know no-one in the flock, she would be shoved around by other animals so she would be miserable and stressed and she would not know the new human. I know the mantra is 'a sheep is a flock animal' and that is true almost all the time, but not necessarily for a blind sheep with other sheep she doesn't know.  To introduce a single companion it would need to be on her home ground and they would need to be penned up together for a few hours first to get to know eachother.  Should you find a mythical small flock who want to take on a blind sheep, then one animal from the new flock would need to be housed with your ewe for perhaps a week, so they became friends, before they went out with the whole flock.  That might work but it very probably wouldn't.  All in all you are best to keep going as you are.
For hay, as others have said, if she's hungry then she will eat good, sweet hay.  She may not eat old, dusty hay. Offer her good hay ad lib ie there's always some untrampled hay available in the same place, under cover for her, don't cover it with other stuff, don't fill her with concentrates as she doesn't need to be fat, and she will eat her hay one day.
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

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Macey Grey

  • Joined Oct 2022
Re: How to get my sheep to eat hay
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2022, 04:41:36 pm »
Hi @Fleecewife

Thanks for taking the time to respond in so much detail. It's really appreciated! It has given me peace of mind that this may be the best set up for her given she's blind. I'm not sure of her background, as she wondered onto the property on 30 Aug 2022 with a severe eye infection. We treated it but it was too far gone so she lost her sight (and her actual eyes; the eye ball has significantly reduced in size and her eye sockets look concave). The odd thing is she's really tame, so maybe she was a pet. We have since learned an awful lot about sheep (thanks to Google and the Accidental Small Holder!!) which seems to be a world unto its own!
Thanks again!

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: How to get my sheep to eat hay
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2022, 05:00:04 pm »
Poor sheep, but her luck in life brought her to you  :sunshine: I do think how you are treating this individual sheep is just right for her  :hugsheep: .


One point, her fleece will keep her warm in the winter, plus a small shelter somewhere. Feeding her up will just make her fat and fat sheep have an unfortunate tendency to become dead sheep  :( . As long as she has a healthy, natural diet, perhaps with a couple of small treats a day, she will be fine. You can tell if she is too thin because you would be able to feel her spine as sharp bones; too fat and you wouldn't be able to feel the bones of her spine at all.


Good luck with her  :)
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

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

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

 

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