The last 4 years Western Cape has seen some of the driest seasons in over a century. There are no more feed on pasture land set aside for sheep to graze on and farmers can’t afford to buy grains at Agricultural stores due to hefty price increases. I found out about a farmer feeding his sheep gem squash and decided to investigate how things are going.
When I asked the farmer if the sheep get constipated or any other complications or illness from eating all the gem squash he assured me that they are happy as clams, less interested in grain feeds and all they want is Gem Squash.
I spent half a day at the farm and was fortunate enough to be invited to join the staff as they were offloading a truck full of Gem Squash and onions. I could not believe how the sheep was rambling closer almost if it was their last meal, bumping and hustling to get to the front and then start digging into the gem squash straight away. Corn (mielies) and barley grains are available, but the sheep has no interest in that, just kept on feeding on green and orange Gem Squash which is a vegetable with a hard peel.
Although grains are always available, salt and lek blocks are places all over the land and the farmer advised me that his sheep have been feeding on gem squash for more than two months and he will continue to do so until there are no more gem squash available.
One cup (100g) of gem squash has 25 calories, 5.9g of carbohydrates, 0.3 g of fibre, and 1.75g of protein. It’s hard to believe as sheep need much more protein that comes from gem squash to survive the harsh conditions from the drought, whoever they are all in tip top condition and their fleece are worm free, ready to sheer and might one even say, they are healthy and fat.
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