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304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
Is Clover Good For Sheep?
Is clover toxic to sheep? For a sustainable grazing system, one should have legumes in the pasture. However, most legumes like clovers and alfalfa (and with the exception of Birdsfoot Trefoil) have one big disadvantage: They cause bloat. Bloat is defined in this case as a forage causing the buildup of gas in the rumen.
Why is clover bad for sheep? Red clover may tick boxes for sheep producers when it comes to finishing lambs and fixing nitrogen, but it can have a negative effect on the fertility of breeding ewes.
Can sheep and goats eat clover? Sheep love to graze pastures and will eat most any plant in them. This may include various grasses, legumes (like clover), and forbs.
Pieris spp in particular account for a large proportion of cases submitted for post mortem, the AFBI explained. These plants contain the toxin acetylandromedol, a substance which is very poisonous to sheep.
Various legumes and clovers, especially the red clover, are said to cause temporary infertility in female sheep when grazed during breeding season. If grazed for a prolonged period of time, red clover can supposedly cause permanent infertility in ewes.
African tall, Vijay composite, Moti composite, Ganga – 5 and Jawahar are some important fodder varieties. Maintain a seed rate of 40 kg/ha and dibble one seed to a spacing of 15cm between the seeds in the row which are 30 cm apart. The average green fodder yield is 40-50 t/ha and the dry matter yield is 10-15 t/ha.
Frothy bloat is also common when sheep of any age graze a lot of clover. But the pasture my sheep are on has very little clover. Frothy bloat is very telltale: foam exudes from their mouths and nostrils like a volcano. They cough and sputter and shake their heads, trying to rid themselves of the foam overload.
Watch out for Bloat!
Bloat occurs when a ruminant, such as sheep, consumes too much fresh, lush alfalfa (or clovers or lush small grains) with a high concentration of leaf proteins called saponins. Sheep that develop frothy bloat have a distended abdomen, discomfort and bellowing and are at risk for sudden death.
Sheep have been known to eat themselves to death. They are grazing animals that will eat the food available to them which, if dietarily unsuitable, can be a big problem. Certain medical conditions can also cause sheep to eat until death.
Forages such as grass or grass hay should make up the majority of the diet for all sheep. Alfalfa hay should only be fed sparingly to non-pregnant ewes and rams. High percentages of alfalfa in the diet can also increase the risk of frothy bloat in sheep.
Red clover grows tall and upright, while white clover grows shorter in height and spreads laterally. Red clover is has a short life-cycle, approximately two to three years, while white clover is a persistent grower that can reseed itself, even under grazing conditions.
They especially love forbs. In fact, it is usually their first choice of food in a pasture. Forbs are often very nutritious. As compared to cattle, sheep eat a greater variety of plants and select a more nutritious diet, though less so than goats.
Examples of browsing animals are goats, Alpine ibex, Markhor, wild goat, Iberian ibex, Nubian ibex, Siberian ibex, Walia ibex, West Caucasian tur, Sulaiman Markhor, and deers. Grazing animals include sheep, cattle, horses, green sea turtle, bison. Hippos, geese, rabbits and grasshoppers.
Potatoes may be fed raw to cattle, sheep, horses and swine but are best cooked for swine. Raw potatoes have only 213 the value of cooked potatoes fed to pigs. Raw potatoes proved to be as good as cooked potatoes fed to dairy cows. Raw potatoes have an acrid taste and tend to increase the flow of digestive juices.
What makes the Puya chilensis so fascinating is that it has been known to capture and kill sheep in Chile, its native environment, for fertilizer.
Like most animals, sheep can go without food for up to a few weeks if they are in good health and have a decent body fat percentage. However, during transport, sheep should not be deprived of food or water over 48 hours.
Sheep are perfectly”designed” to not only live on grass alone, but thrive on it! They can carry multiple lambs, make milk to nurse their young and really put on their weight with access to high quality forage.
Red clover can contain phyto-oestrogens which can reduce ovulation rates in sheep. Providing breeding ewes are removed from grazing red clover 6 weeks before and 6 weeks after tupping then the risk of reduced fertility is negligible.
Red clover is also known to aid the thinning of mucus and increasing blood flow, which can also be a cause of infertility at times. These nutrients are useful in washing out harmful teratogens from the body which can prevent a healthy pregnancy.
Can alfalfa pellets or cubes totally replace hay? If you are asking about sheep, goats, and cattle, the answer is no. Ruminants cannot live on a diet of only alfalfa pellets.
Cracked corn can be added to their diet at approximately 2 weeks of age. Lambs can be fed cracked corn when they weigh 65 pounds or more. After lambs reach approximately 6 weeks of age, when their rumens are fully functioning, they should be fed whole corn.
Cudding is another form of regurgitation, whereby ruminants—like us goats, sheep and cattle—hork up a bolus of pre-chewed food and chew it again to extract more nutrients. We regurgitate as part of cudding all the time but usually only vomit if we’ve been accidentally poisoned, so vomiting is a serious issue for us.
It’s not unusual for sheep to get choked eating grain. Most of the time they get over it in a few minutes. If they GO DOWN, you need to “tube ” them IMMEDIATELY to clear the blockage.
There are several forms of roughage that are acceptable for feeding sheep. Such as pasture, hay, haylage, silage and straw. In many cases, roughage alone is not adequate nutrition for maintaining proper body condition, as is the case during sheep breeding season and times of peak production.