What Do Bighorn Sheep Eat? 13 Facts You Should Know!

Saif Ali

What Do Bighorn Sheep Eat? 13 Facts You Should Know!

Bighorn sheep graze on various plants ranging from soft herbs or grasses to bushy and woody trees. Let us read further and explore more interesting facts around it.

Bighorn sheep likes to eat clover, sedges, and grasses during the summer months. They graze on brushy plants like cactus and holly in desert areas and consume woody plants like willow and sage during the colder months.

The eating habit of bighorn sheep is completely dependent on the climate and geographic locations. In this article, we mainly focus on the diet and eating habitats of bighorn sheep.

How much do bighorn sheep eat ?

Bighorn sheep consume 3 lbs (1.5 kg) of plant matter daily under managed care. However, those that are freed are able to eat more than 3 lbs while travelling about 20 kilometers each day. They discover various vegetation, so they can eat variety of plants.

However, it has been found that bighorn sheep graze less in desert regions since there are not enough plant resources for them to do so. They are mainly dependent on shrubs. As they are ruminants, they consume as much food as they can at one sitting and then digest it later.

Image Credits: Big horn sheep by Magnus Kjaergaard is licensed under (CC BY 3.0)

What time do bighorn sheep eat ?

Bighorn sheep eats from early in the morning until late in the afternoon. But in summers they rest in the morning and graze in the evening due to high temperature. They rest and munch their cud during the night.

Desert bighorns spend the most of the day at sleeping and usually feed at night when summer temperatures are extremely high and water sources are completely dry.

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Do bighorn sheep eat flowers?

Bighorn sheep consume various flowers because flowers are easy to digest. They consume flowers together with their plant food. In addition, they consume shrubs, which are smaller woody plants than trees.

Do bighorn sheep eat meat?

Bighorn sheep do not eat meat due to their herbivore nature. Bighorn sheep is a secondary consumer since they have to depend on primary consumers like plants. As a secondary consumer and herbivore, bighorn sheep mostly graze grass, seeds, and plants.

Do bighorn sheep eat fruit ?

Bighorn eat fruits. Fruits are mainly consumed by bighorn sheep found in rocky or grassland terrain or in captivity.

Image Credits: Bighorn Sheep by Alan D. Wilson is licensed under (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Specific fruit peels are included in the diet of bighorn sheep kept in captivity. Fruits are a great source of potassium, fiber, antioxidants and many valuable nutrients and serve as a terrific supplement for animals.  Farmers usually put fruits in their diet during dry season when the quality of the available fodder is low.

Do bighorn sheep eat bread?

Due of their dependence on plant products, bighorn and other sheep breeds can eat bread. Feeding bread to sheep is a typical error made on home farms; while it is fine in moderation. Bread does contain lipids that might be damaging to sheep if given in excess.

Do bighorn sheep eat wheatgrass ?

Bighorn sheep enjoy wheatgrass, which are the earliest leaves of the common wheat plant (Triticum aestivum) that have just sprouted.

Do bighorn sheep eat cactus ?

Bighorn sheep frequently consume holly and cacti plant in desert regions. Bighorn sheep in the desert typically choose barrel cactus. Bighorn sheep rely on barrel cacti to maintain a suitable water balance in exceptionally dry conditions.

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Do bighorn sheep eat creosote bush ?

In arid regions, bighorn sheep consume creosote shrub. The creosote bush has thick, sticky, and fragrant leaves. Solitary and axillary flowers are present. A globular fruit is also present. Overall, a complete bush can be eaten by bighorn sheep.

Do bighorn sheep eat sagebrush ?

Bighorn sheep are dependent on sagebrush plant. Sagebrush plant usually grows in arid and semi-arid region throughout the range of cold desert.

Numerous birds and other animals eat the sagebrush leaves which have a powerful odor and a light green colour that appears to change with the weather.

Do bighorn sheep eat shrubs ?

Bighorn sheep mainly prefer shrub over trees. Study conducted in Baja California Sur, Mexico on bighorn sheep, found that shrubs were highest frequency of living forms found in that region. Also, preference for shrubs can be attributed in part to the fact that they are perennial plants.

What do Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep eat?

The diet of Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep includes grasses, bushes, and herbaceous plants. Due to their picky feeding habits, they only consume the best forage. The most nutritive part of a plant is its new growth, although it varies depending on the species.

What plants do bighorn sheep eat?

Bighorns sometimes occasionally eat young twigs, leaves, and shoots when their favorite meal is in short supply(especially in winter), In addition to eating grasses(favorites consist of krameria, Encelia, Sweetbush, and Acacia or Catclaw), sedges, cacti, succulents and forbs.

What do arctic bighorn sheep eat?

Arctic bighorn sheep eat dry, frozen grass and sedge stems that become available when snow is blown off the winter range. During winter, lichen and moss are commonly preferred by some populations. While food is plentiful in summer season and a wide range of plants are consumed.

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Conclusion

To wrap up this post, we conclude that bighorn sheep diet is truly dependent on geographic locations. They eat variety of plants ranging from soft herbs to hard woody plants. They have four chambered stomach which allows them to eat more food at once and their efficient digestion allows them to digest dry and rough feed.

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