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Old 03/15/05, 08:54 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Virginia
Posts: 42
sheep eating tree bark

Is it a sign of vitamin deficiency if your sheep eat the bark off of the trees? They are also eating the siding off the shed. What can be done about it or is this just the nature of the beast? My alpacas are doing the same thing.
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Old 03/15/05, 09:20 AM
kesoaps's Avatar  
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Washington State
Posts: 4,108
I think you'll get a lot of answers...but sometimes I think it's just boredom. My ewes love to eat my fruit trees, though. Dolly 'pruned' it for me last year. I swear she'd climb it if she could. (She's stood on her back legs with her front feet on the tree to get higher!)
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Old 03/15/05, 04:50 PM
bergere's Avatar
Just living Life
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Now in Virginia
Posts: 8,277
There are a couple of reasons they will do this.
Sometimes, it is because the sap is pulled back into the trunk for winter, so the bark is much sweeter.

My ewes would only eat bark in winter. However I did get them to stop, by feeding them Icelandic Kelp. So I think in their case, they needed something I was not providing.

As for eating paint off the shed, I would be more inclined to think they are missing some mineral or vitamin in their diet.
If you do not already, you might want to try to offer them some loose mineral/salts made for sheep.
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Old 03/15/05, 06:55 PM
Ross's Avatar
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Ontario
Posts: 13,055
The only thing I can add is the paint may be lead based and sweet so they should be stopped from doing this.
Keep an open mind; but, double the guard for who you let in.
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Old 03/16/05, 08:34 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Staunton, IL
Posts: 109
Eating bark

Our sheep, and goats, always head towards our apple trees and corkscrew willow trees if they get out. When we prune our fruit trees, we give the cuttings to them. It seems to be a good supplement to their diet when we prune in January/February.
They spend the next month or so eating the bark off the branches. We've done this for years and have had no problems. We figured the deer and rabbits eat the bark during the winter months so the sheep and goats could too.
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Old 03/16/05, 05:34 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Ky
Posts: 851
they do have ample hay?
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Old 03/16/05, 06:21 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Washington
Posts: 2,832
My sheep eat twigs and bark pretty regularly. In my case, I think they just picked up the habit from the goats (goats can be a bad influence, who'd a thought?). As long as the sheep have plenty of good hay/alfalfa and loose minerals freely availabe I don't think it's a problem.

I would try my best to stop them from chewing on the siding, though. The paint just can't be good for them.
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