Can Sheep Eat Beans? (Are They Safe?)

Sheep are one of the most important livestock animals in the world, and the right diet is essential to their health and well-being. But can sheep eat beans? It’s a question that has been asked by many farmers, backyard gardeners, and curious minds alike.

The answer is yes, sheep can eat beans, but it’s important to note that there are a few things to consider before adding beans to a sheep’s diet. Beans are a nutritious food option but they can also cause digestive problems in sheep if not eaten in moderation.

To ensure the safety of your sheep, it’s important to understand the types of beans that are beneficial and which ones can be potentially harmful.

Nutritional Value Of Beans

Beans are high in fiber and protein, and contain vitamins and minerals that are essential for healthy growth and development. They also have a low feeding value, meaning they don’t require a lot of energy to digest.

This makes beans a valuable feed option for sheep, especially during times of the year when other feed sources are scarce.

Some of the top nutritional benefits of including beans in a sheep’s diet include:

– Beans are low in sodium and provide an alternative source of minerals that sheep may be lacking in their diet.

– They also contain a small amount of calcium, an essential component for strong bones and teeth.

– Beans are high in energy, making them ideal for finishing off sheep that have already been grown for wool.

– High in protein, making them a great source of feed for growing sheep that are still being weaned off of milk.

Benefits of bean consumption for sheep

There are many benefits of feeding beans to sheep, including increased growth rates, increased feed intake, increased feed efficiency, improvements in reproduction and lamb survival rates, and reduced risk of disease.

Beans are a highly nutritious feed option that is beneficial to sheep in numerous ways. Unfortunately, they also contain anthraquinones, which are substances that can be toxic to sheep under certain conditions.

Depending on the type of bean, feeding too many beans to sheep can result in adverse effects such as reduced feed intake or feed refusal, reduced growth rates, and nutrient deficiencies.

It’s important to understand the different beans and their effects on sheep, so that you can ensure your flock stays healthy and happy.

Types of beans that are Good for sheep

The types of beans that are good for sheep include:

– Adzuki Beans- Adzuki beans are native to Asia and are often used in Asian cuisine. They are a small red bean that is frequently used as a livestock feed, and are also beneficial to fish.

– Black Turtle Beans- Black turtle beans are small black beans that are popular in Mexican and Caribbean cuisine. They are a high-fiber feed source that is widely used for livestock.

– Black-eyed Peas- Black-eyed peas are used in Southern American cuisine, and are also an important feed source for livestock.

– Cowpeas- Cowpeas are tropical legumes that are used as feed for both livestock and poultry.

– Fava Beans- Also known as broad beans, fava beans are used in a variety of Middle Eastern dishes. They are a high-protein feed source that is beneficial to both livestock and poultry.

– Field Beans- Field beans are native to India, and are also known as red matpe beans. They are a high-protein feed source that is beneficial to both livestock and poultry.

– Green Beans- Green beans, or snap beans, are a popular vegetable and are also a sheep feed source.

Moderation when feeding beans to sheep

It is important to understand that beans need to be fed to sheep in moderation. Just like with other fruits and vegetables, too much of another bean food can cause digestive problems.

The American Sheep Industry Association notes that beans may cause gas and bloating in sheep, so it is advisable to feed less than four pounds of fresh beans per day to each animal.

This is roughly equivalent to the amount of beans that would fit into one pint. Be mindful that dried beans have an increased concentration of nutrients and will require a smaller amount per serving than fresh.

Overview of sheep diet

A healthy sheep diet consists of a good balance of protein and fiber, vitamins and minerals, and an appropriate amount of energy for the specific purpose. Sheep are ruminants, meaning they have a multi-chambered stomach, which allows them to digest fibrous plants and leaves that would otherwise be indigestible.

Depending on the season, age of the sheep, and desired outcome, the dietary needs of sheep can vary. A sheep’s diet can consist of a variety of feed sources, including hay, pasture, legumes, grains, and minerals. Hay is the most common feed source for sheep, and is often used to replace pasture during the winter months when grazing is not as readily available.

Legumes such as beans, peas, and alfalfa can also be used as feed sources, and can be beneficial in terms of both nutrition and fiber. Grains such as corn, sorghum, and barley are often added to sheep feed to provide additional energy and vitamins.

Lastly, minerals such as salt, trace minerals, and minerals can also be added to the diet to ensure sheep remain healthy.


Although beans can be an excellent source of fiber, protein, and vitamins, they are also known to cause digestive problems in sheep if overfed to them.

For this reason, it is important when feeding beans to sheep to follow a few simple guidelines:

– Feeding beans that are low in anthraquinones and in moderation. These tips will help ensure that your sheep are receiving the nutrients and fiber they need, while also avoiding digestive problems that can result from eating too many beans.