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Sheep like to eat dog food, concerned


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#1 fpbear

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 01:35 AM

In the earlier message, I gave the sheep some feed because I thought the forage was running low. I thought maybe there was not enough grass and weeds was because they like to eat the Maremma's dog food! So I gave the sheep a tub full of feed, and after tasting the feed, they turned to the dog food and started eating that instead. I'm totally perplexed. They have salt licks and a huge variety of plants in the field.

Are they going to get sick if they keep stealing the Maremma's food?

It is Kirkland Signature Chicken and Rice kibble from Costco. I found that "Sheep of all ages and preruminant calves accumulate copper in the liver when dietary copper is in excess of 30 mg copper / kg dry weight of feed consumed." Then I was reading on another web page that typical dog foods contain around 0 to 18 mg/kg copper. I am not sure how much copper there is in the Kirkland Signature dog food, but probably shouldn't be more than 30 mg/kg

The other ingredient is chicken, I'm not sure what chicken is going to do to their rumens.

It would make the feeding routine impossibly time consuming if I had to separate the Maremma during feeding.

Here's a camera capture. The tub in the front is full of goat feed. The sheep is inside the dog house. I put the dog food in there thinking that it wouldn't be able to go inside but it's really loves Kirkland Signature Chicken and Rice.

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Our Maremma is also confused, it thinks it is a sheep, but that is another story...

Now, caught on camera, after the sheep stole the dog's food, our Maremma is eating the goat feed.

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#2 Bill Fosher

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 05:29 AM

Do you put out a lot of dog food at one time? I've found that there are a couple of our sheep that really want the dog food, but if I just give the dogs what they will clean up in 10 to 15 minutes, they guard it pretty effectively.

Since what you're feeding doesn't contain ruminant protein, I would worry less about the sheep getting into the dog food than the dog not getting enough.

Also, be very careful a.) feeding goat feed to sheep because of copper and b.) dumping out big amounts of concentrate for sheep. If they eat too much concentrate, they could develop acidosis, which is nearly always fatal.

#3 bcnewe2

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 07:38 AM

I had the same issue.
I'd put the dog food out and it'd be gone the next day. I don't free feed my dogs only what I thought they'd be eating for the evening meal.
Each morning the dogs looked extremely hugry and the food would be gone.
What I figured out was that I had some sheep that only ate the dog food (it was put in a place that the sheep had to really work to get at)
This went on for a few weeks unill I noticed a ram looking quite sick. He had acidosis but I blamed it on water belly (had some ram loss to this before) so I tried to medicate and do apropreate steps for saving my ram. No luck. What I finally figured out was he had been eating all the dog food that I had set out.
I had to shoot him to put him out of his misery. Since then I am always careful to not let the sheep get in the dog food. I also almost lost a ram to chicken food too. He had gotten out and busted into the chickencoop. He ate all the food that was in the auto feeders. I saved him but is wasn't purtty.

I'd find a way to keep the dog food seprate.
In the end my dogs learned to guard their food very well and eat imediatly but I know if I hadn't gone to extreme measures of placing the food in a protective place that sheep couldn't get to I'd of had more loss.

good luck
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#4 fpbear

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 12:09 PM

Is there maybe something I could mix in with the dog food that would make it taste bad for the sheep, but still taste good for the Maremma? Since one of them is a meat eater, the other a vegetarian?

#5 mbernard2424

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 12:27 PM

Is there maybe something I could mix in with the dog food that would make it taste bad for the sheep, but still taste good for the Maremma? Since one of them is a meat eater, the other a vegetarian?


Ah ... how about real meat? :rolleyes:

I feed my LGDs raw meat. It's pretty funny to see the sheep and goats come running thinking they are going to get food only to discover it's meat.

Now if the darned sheep and goats start eating the meat, I might be in trouble. :D
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#6 juliepoudrier

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 12:31 PM

I don't know of anything you could put in the dog food to stop the sheep from eating it. Your best bet is to not free feed your LGD and to use some sort of creep type system that will allow the dog to access the feed and not the sheep. Bill points out that since the dog food contains no ruminant protein it's probably safe to feed the sheep from a disease standpoint, but frankly I wouldn't want to take any such chance.

I feed my maremma twice a day. If she doesn't come up for her food, I don't leave it in the pasture where the sheep could access it. Instead I save it to offer at the next feeding (when she would get the full daily amount rather than just half).

Heck, with just two sheep, you could even halter and tie them long enough to let the poor dog eat.

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#7 Rebecca, Irena Farm

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Posted 05 September 2008 - 01:15 AM

Dog food is too high in protein for a sheep to eat (unless they are on an 18% feed and your dog food is only around 20%). So you are right to be concerned.

I've done different things. They now are called up to the house and that works pretty well. I've had feeders out in creep feeder arrangements where the sheep just could not get in. If you get a cattle panel and cut out one stay, waist height or higher, the dogs can get through but the sheep won't be able to no matter how motivated they are. Be sure to sand down the cut points and frame out the hole (any body who might be thinking of doing this). You put the cattle panel wherever it works best for you. I've seen such a design put in corners, a pen built in the field, around a dog house, etc. I personally put ours in an old horse barn - the panel went across a stall.

Try to stop the dog eating the sheep food now. It's really annoying and hard to deal with a dog that protects the sheep feed. They don't all get defensive over it, but every now and then you'll get one that's a problem and usually by then it's a long row to hoe to undo the habit.

Sweet feed is yummy. Even dogs that dine on the best raw food like the taste of sweet feed. It's like candy. So be careful about letting your dog get hooked on it.
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#8 fpbear

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 07:05 PM

Try to stop the dog eating the sheep food now. It's really annoying and hard to deal with a dog that protects the sheep feed. They don't all get defensive over it, but every now and then you'll get one that's a problem and usually by then it's a long row to hoe to undo the habit.


I might have found a solution. I used a dog training collar on each sheep and gave one a shock using the remote control as soon as it started nibbling the dog food. Now they slowly approach the bowl but are afraid to go closer than a foot. I think the unique smell of the dog food is a strong association with the shock. It took about 5 tries each. They are very well behaved right now. :rolleyes:


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