sheep eating tree bark

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by spinnDrSandy, Mar 15, 2005.

  1. spinnDrSandy

    spinnDrSandy Active Member

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    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.
     
  2. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    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!)
     

  3. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

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    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.
     
  4. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    The only thing I can add is the paint may be lead based and sweet so they should be stopped from doing this.
     
  5. decamper

    decamper Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  6. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Well-Known Member

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    they do have ample hay?
     
  7. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    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.