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Sheep and acorns.

Last post Fri, Sep 23 2011 7:50 by leafieldzs. 16 replies.
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  • Tue, Sep 20 2011 18:26

    • bovril
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    Sheep and acorns.

    A neighbour has just flagged me down all of a fluster as her two sheep have got into a little wood and she thinks have eaten some acorns. I assured her that it would be fine, as sheep weren't so silly as to eat something poisonous to themselves. Knowing in reality how silly sheep are and how they enjoy finding new ways to die, will they be alright? ( I know pigs eat acorns fine, but I know vey little about sheep!)
  • Tue, Sep 20 2011 19:09 In reply to

    • henarar
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    • zumerzet

    Re: Sheep and acorns.

    I no that to many acorns will do cows no good mess up there liver i think and they will eat them if they get the chance but i think they need alot to do to much harm

  • Tue, Sep 20 2011 19:39 In reply to

    Re: Sheep and acorns.

    If they eat a lot they will die, no question. We lost a bought in tup once. We opened him up and his stomach was full of acorns. Home bred sheep seem to be ok, don't ask me why.
  • Tue, Sep 20 2011 20:14 In reply to

    • henarar
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    • zumerzet

    Re: Sheep and acorns.

    Welsh do sheep go yellow round the eyes we they have had a few I have noticed this with cows

  • Tue, Sep 20 2011 20:32 In reply to

    Re: Sheep and acorns.

    bovril:
    as sheep weren't so silly as to eat something poisonous to themselves
     

    Oh yes they are, neighbour inadvertently threw some potato tops over the garden wall, 1 sheep dead, one very ill - and he only had 9. 

    Regarding the acorns - sorry not a clue.

  • Tue, Sep 20 2011 22:20 In reply to

    • Jacobus
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    Re: Sheep and acorns.

    Most of our flields have oak trees in them and they tend to be favourite places for the sheep to lie up - shade from the sun, bit of shelter from rain or just handy spots for a gathering.  To be honest I haven't a clue whether the sheep eat any acorns or not, but I suspect they may well do so in which case I've never noticed any harmful effects.  I think that the damaging element in acorns may be tanin, in which case species with high tanin would taste the most bitter and be less likely to be eaten. 
  • Tue, Sep 20 2011 22:57 In reply to

    Re: Sheep and acorns.

    henarar:
    Welsh do sheep go yellow round the eyes we they have had a few I have noticed this with cows

    I don't remember to be honest. We haven't had problems for years now. As I said, home bred sheep don't seem to be affected. I don't know if this is because they don't eat acorns or if it's because they have become immune.

  • Wed, Sep 21 2011 23:26 In reply to

    • old mcdonald
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    Re: Sheep and acorns.

    I am prepared to stick my neck out on this one, and if anybody thinks I am wrong, I want absolute definite scientific proof. Acorns are not poisonous to mammals. People eat them, whole herds of pigs thrive and are fattened on them particularly in the Iberian Peninsula and goats, sheep and cattle eat them too. At present all the cork oaks are carrying their usual crop of acorns, and there are other Quercus species about too. Soon these acorns will be devoured by all manner of farm livestock. I accept that an animal well may die from consuming such a vast quantity that its digestive system cannot cope, but that does not make the acorn toxic.

  • Wed, Sep 21 2011 23:35 In reply to

    Re: Sheep and acorns.

    old mcdonald:

    I am prepared to stick my neck out on this one, and if anybody thinks I am wrong, I want absolute definite scientific proof. Acorns are not poisonous to mammals. People eat them, whole herds of pigs thrive on them particularly in the Iberian

    old mac, I don't have scientific proof but please take my word, acorns are definately poisonous to sheep if they eat a lot. As I have said above, we seldom lose any home bred sheep but purchased sheep are prone to gorging on acorns. I assume it's because they come from farms with no acorns ??

  • Wed, Sep 21 2011 23:43 In reply to

    • old mcdonald
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    Re: Sheep and acorns.

    Quick. I still think it is the inability to digest the quantity. Similarity - AND DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME - Watermelon. Non-toxic, eat a lot and it can kill you. Several species of edible mushroom the same. Vitamin C the same.  A surfeit of many foods is a dangerous situation. Lampreys are suposed to have caused the death of King xxx (I forget which) but an English one, so it probably does not bother you too much. Closer to home, stock breaking into the feed store and gorging themselves.

     

  • Wed, Sep 21 2011 23:52 In reply to

    Re: Sheep and acorns.

    old mcdonald:
    Quick. I still think it is the inability to digest the quantity

    I'm not disagreeing, what you say sounds plausible BUT if sheep eat too many acorns they die. I'll ask one of the vets for an explaination next time I see one of them. 

  • Thu, Sep 22 2011 9:46 In reply to

    • henarar
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    • zumerzet

    Re: Sheep and acorns.

    pigs can eat them ok dont forget that cows and sheep have a different digestive system it may be something to do with this

  • Thu, Sep 22 2011 10:18 In reply to

    • khajou
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    Re: Sheep and acorns.

    Acorns can be fatal in sheep. Not all sheep react but if they do they die from liver failure. They can become addictive so the sheep gorge themselves on them. There is no cure. I had a ewe lamb 3 years ago suffer from it. The vet said the only hope was to give her something like syrup of figs to get the acorns to pass through as quickly as possible. She did survive but did not breed the following year, however a year later she produced twins. She now grazes in an oak free field.

  • Thu, Sep 22 2011 12:39 In reply to

    • 2658336
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    Re: Sheep and acorns.

    I know from our own sheep that quite small quantities of green oak leaves will cause gut ache and then a black, watery scouring, and I have no doubt that this would be fatal if the sheep concerned were allowed to continue eating such leaves. The poisonous agents are essentially the tanins, which turn to tannic acid in the digestive system and cause ulceration and bleeding, and my veterinary wife tells me other longer term things as well. This link gives a bit more:

    http://www.caf.wvu.edu/~forage/acorns/acorns.htm

    and another one from NADIS with reference to cattle, but they assure me that it applies to sheep as well:

    http://www.caf.wvu.edu/~forage/acorns/acorns.htm

    I'm not certain, but on our holding it appears that only green leaves and green acorns are attractive to sheep. Our oak trees all have the traditional "browse line" at about 1.7 metres as a result of Texel ewes standing upright on their back legs, and jumping to get the lower leaves; it seems that the quantity they get that way is not enough to cause obvious problems, but a single leafy branch within easy reach on the ground is a real risk. I often resort to cutting a bit of browse for the sheep in August (when I need to trim trees & hedges anyway) but Oak is a real NO, and branches get kept away from sheep until the leaves have gone brown and unpalatable (and some sources claim that the tanins will have been partly leached out, but I have my doubts about that.) A couple of weeks ago I saw a mallard on the moat partly diving in order to porpoise up and grab green acorns of the low branches of an oak; I wonder if they are significantly poisonous to ducks? Pigs can clearly eat quite a lot without problems.

  • Thu, Sep 22 2011 22:40 In reply to

    • stapler
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    Re: Sheep and acorns.

    We have a lot of oak trees and in the past always thought acorns were poisonous to cattle but not sheep so at this time of year we would put the cast ewes on to fatten up on the acorns,never remember any problems.

  • Thu, Sep 22 2011 22:54 In reply to

    • old mcdonald
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    Re: Sheep and acorns.

    w'n'w, I read your last post last night that we agree. If sheep eat too many acorns they will die. If most animals eat too much of most things they will die.

    The latest post, by Stapler, is very interesting. Sheep in Portugal (mainly Merino derivatives) certainly eat acorns.

  • Fri, Sep 23 2011 7:50 In reply to

    Re: Sheep and acorns.

     My sheep also graze on fields with huge oak trees and don't seem to touch the acorns so maybe the lambs try a few and don't like them then they leave them alone but bought in's might not know when to stop.  As for sheep not eating poisonous plants I had some ewes in a neighbours field with his bonfire pile and he put some yew clippings on it, two dead in a day, interestingly they both blew up as if they had been dead for a week and the knackerman said it was a sure sign of yew poison.

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