Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sheep Feed and Digestion

To understand how to properly feed your flock, you need to know a bit about ruminant digestion. Ruminants have a four chambered stomach as opposed to a single stomach like humans, dogs, horses, pigs and many other animals. When sheep eat grass or hay, the food slips down the esophagus into the largest chamber , a fermentation and storage organ called the Rumen. Sheep don't do much chewing as they forage, that activity comes later. When the sheep finds a quiet spot to rest and regurgitate the under-masticated vegetable matter, it will then do some real chewing or ruminating, before again swallowing its "cud" for final digestion. Even with all this rumination, the cellulose in fibrous plant feed is difficult to digest. Fortunately, ruminants have billions of helpful protozoa and bacteria residing in their Rumen that flourish on high fiber diets. These microbes produce protein as a by-product of the fermentation process, another perk for the sheep. Further digestions occurs in the Abomasun or true stomach, which secrets acids and enzymes similar to the human stomach. The basic components of a healthy sheep diet include water, forage, grain, vitamins and minerals.

Have a blessed Holiday ~ Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family

The Karras Family
Karras Farm


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