A sheep and goat feeding in a field with buttercups

Do Sheep Eat Buttercups? (Read To Know Now!)

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Sheep will eat nearly any plant present in the pasture, including forbs, legumes, and grass, but that doesn’t mean they will eat everything. So with that in mind, do sheep eat buttercups?

No, Sheep don’t typically eat buttercups. However, they are more likely to graze on this plant than any other animal, especially the ones still immature.

If you graze your sheep hard, they will eat buttercup; otherwise, they will pick the tasty bits of the pasture and leave behind buttercups.

Since sheep are vulnerable to digestive issues, knowing what they can and cannot eat is paramount. Buttercups naturally grow in many surroundings, but just because they are easily accessible doesn’t mean you should let your sheep eat them.

With that in mind, read on to learn about sheep and buttercups.

A sheep and goat feeding in a field with buttercups

Why Don’t Sheep Like Eating Buttercup?

Buttercup is a toxic plant to all livestock species, releasing the toxin protanemonin upon wounding or chewing the plant. Fortunately, the unpalatable nature of the buttercup keeps sheep from eating it.

You sheep might suffer from gastrointestinal tract and mouth blistering, colic, bloody stool, or diarrhea if they eat buttercups.

However, remember this plant is only poisonous when eaten fresh; the toxins in the plant aren’t a threat in their dried state.

Creeping buttercup is this plant’s most common species and the least toxic. However, while poultry and livestock sometimes consume it, it can still cause the above-mentioned side effects.

Besides sheep, pigs, horses, and grazing cows also don’t like consuming buttercup.

The Side Effects of Sheep Eating Buttercup

Your sheep may exhibit side effects when they consume fresh buttercup, with the effects varying depending on the amount consumed.

However, it’s worth noting that the sheep might not show any side effects when they eat small amounts of buttercup.

Nonetheless, below are the common sides effects:

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Oral irritation
  • Foul poop
  • Colic
  • Restlessness

It’s tricky to prevent your sheep from eating buttercup, especially if they are in free range. What you can do is practice great pasture management practices. This will promote and improve the growth of desirable plants in late winter or fall, when most buttercup plants germinate, keeping them from emerging and growing.

In addition, clipping plants or mowing fields in early spring before the buttercup plants produce flowers can help lower seed production. However, just mowing won’t totally prevent the production of seeds.

You can also opt for chemical control methods, using herbicides designed to be used on grass pastures containing 2,4-D.

For the best results, apply herbicides in early spring, between February and April, when buttercups are tiny and actively growing before the flowers emerge.

READ ALSO: Can Sheep Eat Cucumbers? (Varieties To Feed!

Do sheep eat buttercups

Can Sheep Eat Dried Buttercups?

Dried buttercups aren’t poisonous, so your sheep can comfortably enjoy this treat. However, ensure it doesn’t contain moisture because that could cause adverse effects, including bloating the sheep’s intestines.

Spread the buttercups in the sun for the moisture to completely evaporate before giving them to your sheep.

Besides eating, you can also use dried buttercups as your sheep’s bedding, but you should note that the sheep might eat some of it when idle or hungry.

It’s paramount to ensure your sheep have a good place to sleep, which entails cleaning their pen regularly and changing the bedding. In addition, providing your sheep with clean shelter helps curb the spread of diseases and keep your sheep happy.

The common things used as sheep’s beddings are sawdust, mill debris, and dried plants like a buttercup.

Can Mixing Buttercups With Other Feed Minimize The Poison?

Serving buttercups with other edible substances doesn’t reduce their toxicity.

The idea behind mixing edible plants with buttercups came about when some people discovered their livestock didn’t show poisonous plants’ effects when they first consumed other plants.

With that in mind, they assumed it was safe to give the animals poisonous plants together with edible plants. However, this is quite risky, so avoid doing so for the well-being of your sheep.

Can Buttercup’s Scent Affect Sheep?

The scent of buttercups won’t irritate your sheep because the plant doesn’t produce a strong odor.

Therefore, your sheep can pass by buttercups bushes without suffering adverse effects unless they decide to nibble on the plant’s flowers.

The Diet of Sheep (What They Can And Cannot Eat)

With the knowledge that buttercup isn’t great for your sheep, let’s explore what they like eating. This information will help you keep your sheep healthy by ensuring they receive the necessary nutrients and avoid poisonous plants.

A sheep grazing around buttercups

What You Should Feed Your Sheep

The best diet for your sheep should comprise almost entirely of high-quality hay or healthy pasture.

Give your sheep the freedom to graze freely, feeding on different legumes, grasses, and leafy weeds (forbs), and you will have the happiest and healthiest flock.

While pasture is the primary food source, hay is an excellent substitute. However, remember that sheep prefer soft, leafy hay rather than coarse hay.

They thrive on oat hay, bluegrass, orchard hay, and timothy hay. Sheep will gladly eat alfalfa and even live on it, but it’s not the best choice because it’s rich and could cause urinary tract issues and bloating.

Still, you can supplement pasture or hay with grain because of malnourishment, lactation, age, and pregnancy. However, ensure you only feed your sheep grain explicitly made for them because sheep are prone to copper toxicity which can be present in other livestock feeds.

With many options to select from, there’s no need for your sheep to suffer through consuming buttercup. Nonetheless, always strive to provide proper nutrition to your sheep and help them thrive.


While the buttercup will beautify your hay/ pasture fields with its lovely yellow flowers in spring, don’t expect your sheep to turn to it for food. Sheep don’t enjoy eating the plant, and it can also cause health problems.

If your sheep exhibits adverse effects from eating buttercups, it’s best to contact your vet to provide medical attention. Moreover, monitor where your sheep graze for their safety and health.


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