If you own a flock of sheep, it’s a good idea to research supplements, salt licks, and minerals to find the best mineral block for sheep. Minerals are essential to the life of any animal, and sheep require certain minerals to effectively raise lambs, produce milk, wool, and grow rapidly for proper weight gain and to achieve their genetic potential. Your sheep require minerals, including salt, on a daily basis to thrive, and if you fail to supply adequate amounts of minerals in their diet, you may experience below-average fertility, weakened lambs at birth (leading to a poor survival rate), and a depressed immune-response to sheep diseases.
Today I’ll discuss what makes a good sheep mineral block, what to look for on the label when choosing one, and make some recommendations to help you choose a good mineral supplement for your flock.
In this article I’ll also dig into the reasons sheep need mineral supplements, break down the most popular types of mineral supplements for sheep, including sheep mineral licks, loose minerals, sheep protein tubs, and mineral blocks for sheep.
But let’s start with the basics …
Why Sheep Need Mineral Supplements
Depending upon where you live, what you feed for grain (or if you feed it at all) and your pasture/hay quality, your sheep may not be getting the minerals they need to thrive.
The quantity of minerals required by sheep vary according to many factors, including age, body weight, stage of reproduction, parasite load, and more.
Offering free-range mineral supplements to your sheep is important, because you allow your flock to get as much or as little of the vital minerals they require.
This will allow your flock to thrive, improving their health and production.
Will Any Mineral Supplement Work?
No. It’s important to purchase mineral blocks, licks or loose supplements which are specifically formulated for sheep.
Cattle, horses, and other animals have different mineral requirements, and to avoid the risk of toxic mineral levels it is imperative that you only purchase and offer your flock a sheep mineral supplement.
*IMPORTANT* A Note About Copper and Sheep
Mineral mixes designed for cattle and horses are almost always too high in Copper content (CU). This is important to be aware of because sheep accumulate copper in their liver at a much more rapid pace than other livestock species.
Sheep minerals should contain no more than 300-500 mg of copper per kg of mineral mix (300-500 ppm max). If you’re feeding a grain mixture, it’s a good idea to check the amount of copper in that as well. This will give you a true value for the amount of copper your sheep may be consuming between their grain and mineral licks.
Symptoms of copper toxicity can occur suddenly and result in death. Texels are the most susceptible breed to copper toxicity.
Always inspect the label for copper content on sheep mineral supplements. It should be below 300-500 ppm.
Types of Sheep Minerals You Can Feed On Your Farm
In general, sheep minerals fall into four distinct categories:
- Sheep Mineral Block — A hard block that is mounted on the wall of your barn or set on the ground which sheep can lick and chew on.
- Sheep Salt Lick — Pure salt or a salt/mineral mixture which generally hangs from a rope near the sheep’s water supply.
- Loose Mineral Supplements — A mixture of sheep minerals designed specifically for sheep which comes loose and can be poured into a sheep mineral feeder for sheep to access.
- Sheep Protein Tubs — A mineral mixture with elevated protein content, generally slightly softer than mineral blocks. These can be placed on the ground, and are an excellent way to supplement ewes late in pregnancy who require additional minerals and protein to produce strong, healthy lambs.
My Recommended Sheep Mineral Supplements
Here are my recommendations for the most popular types of sheep mineral supplements:
Best Sheep Mineral Block
While there are other sheep mineral blocks out there, I recommend the Prairie Pride 16% Sheep & Goat Protein Block, available on Amazon. At 33 pounds it lasts a long time, is a great value, and the sheep love it.
While plain salt with or without trace minerals is great, a block like this one, packed with protein really gives your flock what they need. I’ve used it many times on my farm, and can recommend it.
Best Sheep Salt Lick
Sheep go crazy for Himalayan salt licks. I love this one on Amazon because it comes as a 2-pack of 4-6 pound blocks on a rope. They’re easy to hang in your barn or on a fence, post, or tree out in the pasture.
Offering pure salt like this is the most natural way to go when it comes to supplementing your flock. And this Himalayan salt block contains 84 trace minerals which will help ensure that your sheep thrive.
Best Loose Sheep Minerals
Feeding loose sheep minerals is great because it saves you money when you purchase 50 pound bags.
Also, sheep have an easier time consuming the loose mineral powder, so you can be sure they’re getting as much as they need.
The Redmond Natural brand is my top choice, and you you may find it locally, or on Amazon.
It’s a mineral salt that my sheep love. It has only 3 ppm of copper, and it’s 100% natural with no synthetic chemicals.
I like to offer it to my grazing ewes during the summer in a weathervane feeder from Townsend. This allows me to keep the supplement available out in the pasture, without it getting wet from the rain.
Sheep Mineral Feeder for the Barn
The Universal Block Holder (Amazon link) is sized to fit most mineral blocks, but you can also fill it with loose sheep minerals.
You can permanently bolt this sheep mineral feeder to a 2×4 and screw that to the wall of your barn, or you can set this over a gate (less secure).
I also like this 26-Quart corner feeder for minerals as it’s tough for sheep to knock over.
More Thoughts on Choosing the Best Supplement or Mineral Block for Sheep
The most important criteria in selecting sheep minerals, is to consider:
- the size of your flock,
- what you currently feed your flock, and
- where you will make the supplement available to your sheep.
The Himalayan sheep lick above is very flexible … you can easily hang it in the barn, on a fence, or around a tree out in the middle of the field.
If you’re planning to feed loose mineral salt, it’s best to have the feeder inside and out of the weather. This will help to avoid clumping when it gets wet, or waste if you’re expecting heavy rains. A weather-vane style mineral feeder from Townsend (pictured), is a good option for sheep who are grazing without shelter. Tractor Supply sells a similar one as well.
Finally, it’s very important when providing your sheep with minerals, salt licks, or other supplements to ensure that there is adequate water available at all times.
Adult sheep will drink anywhere from 1/2 a gallon to 4 gallons of water per day. How much water a sheep needs will vary depending upon their needs, feed, and whether they are lactating. Ensuring plenty of water is available is crucial to ensuring the dietary needs of your flock are met.
Final Thoughts in This Sheep Minerals Guide
I hope this brief guide to sheep minerals has been helpful.
Whether you choose salt blocks for your sheep, loose mineral supplements, or purchase my pick for the best mineral block for sheep (above), finding the right minerals and vitamins for your sheep based on your local environment, feed, and flock size is an important part of caring for your flock.