Sheep thrive on plants, with grass being their primary source of food and a bit of hay. They prefer to eat soft and easily consumable substances. While there are plants sheep can eat without harming them, many more are toxic to them, so can sheep eat tomatoes?
Sheep can eat tomatoes, provided they are ripe and red, and consume them only occasionally. Tomato plant leaves, tomato vines, and unripe tomato fruits are unsafe for sheep since they contain a harmful toxin, solanine.
Keep reading to discover how to feed your sheep tomatoes safely.
Can Sheep Eat Raw Tomatoes?
Feeding your sheep raw tomatoes is the best way to treat them with this delicious treat. This is because ripe, raw tomatoes are juicy and soft.
Therefore, your sheep will find it easy to chew and swallow and contain the maximum nutrition amounts.
You can give tomatoes to adult sheep and lambs alike but wait until the young ones are a bit older (at least big enough to eat solid foods comfortably).
In addition, keep in mind that lamb stomachs’ are pretty delicate to novel foods, especially rich ones like tomatoes.
Your lambs may initially develop diarrhea when they first consume tomatoes. While this can be perceived as a non-issue, it can cause dehydration which could be fatal.
Therefore, treat lambs with tomatoes in tiny quantities and only occasionally until they are much older.
Can Sheep Eat Cooked Tomatoes?
Sheep can eat cooked tomatoes, but do you really need to cook them when sheep enjoy them raw? Moreover, cooking tomatoes depletes their nutritional content, including minerals and vitamins.
Can Sheep Eat Tomato Leaves And Vines?
Aside from the fruit, other parts of tomato plants are harmful to sheep because they contain harmful solanine amounts. These parts include leaves, roots, vines, tomato fruit’s top or the calyx.
Caution When Feeding Sheep Tomatoes
Pay attention to the following when feeding sheep tomatoes to ensure they stay safe and healthy.
Solanine refers to a glycoalkaloid in nightshade family plants, specifically eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes.
You may have heard how toxic the deadly nightshade is. While tomatoes are less dangerous than their ferocious cousin, they still have the same compounds making the nightshade so dangerous.
Like the other parts of the tomato plants, Solanine is present in the fruits, too, until they’re completely ripe.
Therefore, never feed your sheep unripe tomatoes to prevent them from getting sick or dying. Moreover, ensure your sheep do not eat the tomato plant, mainly the vines and leaves.
Although sheep are exceptionally good at avoiding harmful plants and substances, you can never be too sure, especially if you have hungry or curious sheep.
If your sheep consume the harmful parts of a tomato plant, clear them from their mouths and provide clean water to drink. Next, put a spoon of baking soda in the sheep’s mouth, then call a veterinarian.
Tomatoes are highly versatile and used in numerous dishes and cuisines with various ingredients like seasonings, oils, sugars, salts, and other things. While these substances combine to make delicious meals, these ingredients can harm sheep.
At best, it can cause diarrhea, stress, and an upset stomach. On the other hand, consuming tomatoes with harmful ingredients can also cause severe effects like intestinal lining inflammation, bloat, and other issues.
Therefore, do not feed your sheep specialty meals. In addition, should you decide to cook tomatoes before giving them to your sheep, do not put any added ingredients.
Pesticides in Grocery-Bought Tomatoes
Pretty much every commercial product is treated with pesticides at different stages, including harvesting and planting.
Tomatoes are some of the most heavily treated plants. Therefore, be cautious of these dangerous chemicals before feeding your sheep with store-bought tomatoes.
Despite assurances from various government agencies, pesticides have been associated with different health issues in mammals.
Some of these health problems are especially severe and occur once the chemicals build up in the animal’s body for a while.
Pesticides cause organ damage, reproductive issues, neurological problems, and cancer in sheep. If you purchase tomatoes from the grocery store to feed your sheep, make sure they are organic and certified as pesticide free.
Also, ensure you wash them thoroughly before giving them to your sheep. Alternatively, consider growing your tomatoes.
Feed Sheep Tomatoes Occasionally
While ripe tomatoes are perfectly okay for your sheep, they shouldn’t eat them regularly. Sheep should only have these fruits occasionally (1 to 2 times a week should be enough). Large quantities of tomato in one sitting may cause health issues. Only 25% of your sheep’s calorie intake should come from things other than pasture.
Benefits Of Feeding Sheep Tomatoes
Tomatoes have plenty of minerals and vitamins your sheep will benefit from by consuming them. It has a good vitamin B assortment, including folate, B6, B5, B4, B3, B2, and B1, some vitamin A equivalent, and beta-carotene.
In addition, tomatoes contain some vitamin K, vitamin E, and plenty of vitamin C (this is a waste, though, considering sheep already produce their own). When it comes to minerals, tomatoes offer a surprisingly good amount.
These include magnesium, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus. Additionally, tomatoes contain minimal amounts of zinc, iron, and calcium.
The vitamins boost a sheep’s cellular function and health, facilitate mineral usage, and improve new DNA production. On the other hand, minerals improve the connective tissues and the skeleton’s strength.
Potassium is vital for bacteria balancing in the sheep’s rumen and proper muscle function and electrolyte balance. In addition, tomatoes are exceptional in keeping sheep hydrated when hot since tomatoes’ average water mass is about 94%.
You can treat your sheep with juicy, soft ripe tomatoes but ensure they only serve as supplements, not their primary food. Remember, sheep can easily choke, so slice them into tiny sections or slices beforehand.
Take time to prep the tomatoes first to ensure maximum enjoyment. Nonetheless, tomatoes are a tasty and juicy treat sheep can enjoy from time to time.