Can Sheep Eat Cucumbers? Is it OK?

You might not know that sheep can actually eat a surprising variety of vegetables as a supplement to their typical diet of pasturage and other greenery. It’s true!

sheep eating sliced cucumber

And though sheep might not have access to a wide variety of veggies in the wild, that shouldn’t stop you from serving them to your flock. It is a great way to treat your sheep and also make sure they are getting all of the vitamins and minerals they need.

However, sheep still have particularly sensitive digestive tracts and can’t eat just any sort of veggie. How about cucumbers? Can sheep eat cucumbers safely?

Yes, cucumbers are safe for sheep to eat, but they should only be eaten occasionally as a fun snack or occasional supplemental item. Cucumbers are loaded with good vitamins and minerals, and also helpful for keeping sheep hydrated.

You might be as surprised as I was to learn that sheep really do seem to enjoy cucumbers, and that makes them a wholesome, healthy new food that you can introduce to them as long as you are careful not to give them too much at once or over time. I’ll tell you a lot more down below.

Do Sheep Like Cucumbers?

Yes, they really do! Cucumbers have always struck me as a food that sheep really wouldn’t have much access to in the wild, but whatever the case, I can promise you that most domestic breeds I’ve seen can’t get enough of crisp, cool cukes.

Be cautious about this, because you should never let them eat cucumbers free choice, or deliberately overfeed them; that is bound to cause digestive upset.

How Nutritious are Cucumbers?

Cucumbers are surprisingly nutritious for sheep, and although they are hardly an exemplary vegetable when it comes to overall nutrition there is absolutely nothing wrong with them and they’ll certainly benefit your flock as part of a well-rounded diet.

Looking at the macronutrients first, we see that cucumbers contain just a few carbohydrates, predominantly in the form of sugars but also a little starch and a tiny bit of fiber. They have hardly any fat or protein to speak of.

The array of vitamins is respectable, but limited, with the only standout one being vitamin K, backed up by a decent assortment of the B-complex vitamins in the form of thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6 with a little bit of vitamin C, folate and niacin to round things out.

The mineral content is likewise pretty diverse, but low in overall quantities, with magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and potassium being the primary benefit backed up by little calcium, iron, and zinc.

And, of course, cucumbers are extremely moist, truly full of water, with your average example being over 95% water by weight. This makes them a great snack for helping sheep beat heat stress, or just stay cool generally.

How Can Cucumbers Benefit Sheep?

Probably the single biggest benefit that cucumbers can provide to your sheep is as an enticing snack that can help them break out of menu boredom. You can depend on the fact that your flock will probably enjoy cucumbers, and this makes them a great reward or lure to get your sheep to cooperate with and follow you.

But make no mistake, the nutrients they contain are beneficial, and aside from providing your sheep with a little bit of water and energy cucumbers, as part of a complete diet, can improve metabolism, organ function, tissue and bone growth, circulatory health and blood clotting and a lot more.

So long as you aren’t feeding your sheep too many, they are only going to be good for their health.

Can Sheep Eat Salad Cucumbers Safely?

Yes, they can. Salad, sometimes called slicing cucumbers, are large varieties that are intended for eating as they are when fully ripe. Although large in size, they’re still soft and easy for sheep to chew, though you should cut them into smaller pieces to facilitate this.

Can Sheep Eat Pickling Cucumbers Safely?

Yes. Pickling cucumbers are smaller and, as the name reveals, intended for turning into pickles or pickled mixtures of other veggies. When they are fresh and untouched, they are safe for sheep to eat and usually ready to serve simply by cutting them in half or into quarters.

Can Sheep Eat Cucumber Skin?

Yes, they can. Cucumber skin is a decent source of minerals and fiber, and is easy for sheep to digest. You don’t have to peel them.

Can Sheep Eat Cucumber Seeds?

Yes, sheep can safely eat cucumber seeds with no issues. The seeds are small and soft, easily digested. They won’t hurt them and so you don’t need to seed them prior to serving.

Are Seedless Cucumbers Okay for Sheep?

Yes, they are. Seedless cucumbers are another variety that is perfectly safe for sheep to eat.

Can Sheep Have Actual Pickles?

No, never! Pickles as most of us know them are just cucumbers, yes, but cucumbers that have been immersed and a super salty and seasoned pickling solution that will play hell on the sensitive digestive tract and rumen of sheep.

Never, ever give your sheep pickles for any reason!

Can Cucumbers Be Bad for Sheep?

Yes, they can, but most times it will only result from giving them too many cucumbers, either in a single serving or too many in their diet over time.

For starters, cucumbers are nowhere close to being nutritionally complete for sheep and they can’t live on them. They don’t even need them regularly!

Cucumbers are too moist for sheep to eat all the time as they have a tendency to cause diarrhea and digestive upset if they get too much. Plus, a sheep that fills up on these will be missing out on other more nutritious foods that they should be eating.

Also, one thing you should be aware of is that, for whatever reason, certain sheep show a marked tendency to get an upset stomach when eating any amount.

We’re not quite sure why this is, but it is suspected to be a genetic sensitivity to compounds that are naturally present in cucumbers. Obviously, giving these sheep more is only going to make matters worse!

Because of this, make sure to only give your sheep tiny quantities of cucumbers to start out with and then observe for any bad reactions like loss of appetite or diarrhea. You should be giving them small amounts anyway because their rumen needs time to acclimatize to cucumbers just like any other food!

Spoiled or Moldy Cucumbers Can Make Sheep Sick

As always, you should never give any moldy, slimy, or rotten cucumbers to your flock. Bad produce of any kind is bad for sheep, and significantly more likely to make them sick. Certain kinds of mold that grow on vegetables and other foods can actually be deadly! Don’t chance it!

How Often Can Your Sheep Have Cucumbers?

Sheep can have small quantities of cucumbers two or three times a week as a treat. They generally should not have any more than that, though your sheep might be more or less tolerant of them.

As ever, start with very small quantities and slowly increase them on successive feedings to make sure they’re handling it well.

How Should You Prepare Cucumbers for Serving to Sheep?

Cucumbers should be thoroughly washed and then processed into smaller, bite-sized pieces that are easy for sheep to handle. Large salad cucumbers can be a choking hazard, as can whole pickling cucumbers.

Are Cucumbers Safe for Lambs to Eat?

Yes, once the lambs are old enough to start weaning and switching to solid foods. Cucumbers are easy to digest, healthy, and generally inoffensive to the delicate environment of a young lamb’s rumen, making them a great novel food or treat for them to try once they are old enough.

But be cautious that you don’t give them too much; extremely moist cucumbers can still cause diarrhea which can be especially problematic for lambs. That, and there are still lots of other foods that they need more if they’re going to grow up strong and healthy.

Leave a Comment