Sheep, like most of our animals, really do appreciate a nice, tasty treat now and again. But compared to handing over a snack to a dog, cat, or horse, you’ve got to be more cautious with sheep. As ruminant animals, their digestive system is far more prone to upset, and that can have dangerous consequences for them.
That said, there are still many kinds of fruits and vegetables that are safe for them, though not all are. How about something sweet and juicy like grapes? Can sheep eat grapes safely?
Yes, sheep can eat grapes safely in limited quantities as a treat or snack. Fed only in small amounts and occasionally, sheep will benefit from a boost of energy but too many will cause serious digestive upset, diarrhea, and weight gain.
I know shepherds who are extremely wary about giving their sheep any kind of sugary food, but grapes are okay as long as you watch the amount.
Like all good things, you can overdo it and give them too much, but as long as you only hand them over once in a while as a sweet reward or incentive to get your sheep to follow you, you won’t have any issues.
Keep reading and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about giving your sheep grapes…
Do Sheep Like Grapes?
Yes, they sure do! Sheep have shown a marked fondness for grapes and this makes them a wonderful food for rewarding them or, as I like to, incentivize them to follow me or do what I want. Be warned: sheep will happily cause damage to vineyards and greenhouses if you let them!
How Nutritious are Grapes for Sheep?
Grapes can be a decent source of nutrition for sheep, though they aren’t a complete food for them and not something that should ever be a majority part of their diet…
Grapes are rich in vitamin K and vitamins B6, thiamine, and riboflavin, but they have only small or trace amounts of other vitamins and minerals.
They do, though, provide a good amount of water which can help to keep your flock hydrated in hot weather. Combined with the ample carbs in the form of sugar and your sheep can definitely get a pep in their step.
Keep in mind, grapes are nutritious but they should only make up a very small portion of a sheep’s diet.
How Can Grapes Benefit Sheep?
The biggest benefit that grapes have for sheep is as a sweet treat and a decent source of energy. Sheep, like most animals, prefer sweet or especially tasty foods and grapes definitely fit the bill. You can use this as a special food to incentivize your sheep to cooperate with you, as mentioned, or to help them look forward to your presence around them every day.
More than that, the vitamins and minerals that grapes contain, although hardly anything to write home about, are still beneficial in several ways. Nutritionally, grapes can help improve wool quality, circulation, proper metabolic function, cellular health, wool growth, eyesight, and more.
But this is only a fringe benefit for grapes because they are nutritionally imbalanced owing to the high sugar and moisture content. Never feed your sheep lots of grapes in a single serving or as a majority component in their diet because they will cause a lot more problems than they prevent.
Can Sheep Eat Red Grapes?
Yes, sheep can safely eat red grapes.
Can Sheep Eat Green Grapes?
Yes, they can. Green grapes are likewise perfectly safe for sheep to eat.
Can Sheep Have Black Grapes, Too?
Yes. Black grapes, like all other colors and types, are safe for your flock. And like other grape varieties, they are rich in carbs and provide a nice break from the regular diet your sheep are used to.
Is it Okay for Sheep to Eat Grape Skins?
Yes, it is. Grape skins are not harmful to sheep and you don’t need to go to any trouble peeling them. In fact, the skins of grapes contain certain antioxidants and added fiber which can benefit their health.
Are Grape Leaves Okay for Sheep?
Yes, they sure are. Grape leaves are not only safe for sheep to eat, but they can also be quite beneficial compared to the grapes themselves since they aren’t sugary. The leaves can aid in digestion, and contain ample calcium and magnesium, which are important for bone health.
But sadly, sheep will pig out on the grapes and save the leaves for later, most times!
Sheep can eat grape leaves fresh off the vine, or they can be dried and added to their usual roughage or feed. Introduce grape leaves slowly, as usual, and ensure that the majority of their diet is still made up of grass and hay.
Will Sheep Eat Grape Vines and Stems?
Yes, but some with reluctance and you should allow them to eat them cautiously. Sheep will typically eat grape vines and stems if given the opportunity, and while these parts of the plant aren’t harmful to sheep they are tough to digest. Overconsumption can potentially lead to significant digestive issues due to the tougher nature of stems and vines.
Can Grapes Hurt Sheep or Cause Health Problems for Them?
Yes, but this is only a concern if you feed grapes too often or allow them to overeat. While grapes are generally safe for sheep, consuming them in large quantities can potentially cause sugar overload, resulting in major digestive issues like bloating and diarrhea.
Furthermore, a diet too rich in sugar (even fructose) can lead to obesity and its attendant health issues.
Nothing to worry over though as long as you feed them sparingly!
Spoiled or Pesticide-Sprayed Grapes Can Definitely Harm Sheep
Never give your sheep any rotten or moldy grapes, or any that you know have been sprayed with pesticide or other chems. Spoiled grapes can contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness in sheep, and similarly, grapes sprayed with pesticides can also pose unique and long-lasting health risks.
Stick with fresh, wholesome, and chemical-free grapes only!
How Often Can Your Sheep Have Them?
Only occasionally, only once or twice a week and in small quantities. Grapes should be considered a treat only and never a staple in your sheep’s diet. This will ensure they’re getting a properly nutritious and varied diet andn’t getting too much sugar at once.
Always remember: a sheep’s diet should consist mostly of grass and hay!
How To Prepare Grapes for Serving to Sheep
Ensure all grapes heading for your sheep are clean, fresh, and free of any pesticides or chemicals. Give them a good wash anyway, just in case. Serve organic grapes if possible.
Adult sheep can chew and swallow whole grapes with little issue, but consider cutting them in half for smaller animals: Cutting grapes can help prevent choking, especially for lambs or any sheep that has issues swallowing.
Remember to introduce grapes slowly into their diet, even when giving small amounts as a reward, and watch for any signs of digestive upset like diarrhea or bloating.
Are Grapes OK for Lambs?
Yes, grapes are safe for lambs to eat, but only once they have started to eat solid food and wean off of milk. As mentioned, due to their smaller size it’s best to cut any grapes in half to prevent choking.
And just like with adult sheep, grapes should only be fed to lambs as a treat and not replace their main diet of hay and grass (for older lambs). And be sure to keep an eye on them while they’re trying grapes to ensure they’re chewing and swallowing properly.
I’ve taken over this blog from Kendra Lynne around 2018, and turned it into one of the best an most comprehensive homesteading website out there. I was raised partly in the countryside living a very frugal life ever since I can remember.