3. Ewes are what ewes eat (01/2008)
EWES ARE WHAT EWES EAT
Animal species have evolved physically and mentally over millennia, adapting to specific conditions to meet their needs. Natural form, behaviour patterns and dietary requirements are of particular interest in understanding more about health and disease. When animals have an appearance which resembles their original forebear, and are allowed to behave naturally in their usual environment eating suitable and appropriate food, optimal health will ensue. Many modern domestic animal breeds look quite different from their predecessors from only a few centuries ago. Behaviour patterns have also been somewhat modified through selective breeding. But dietary requirements remain largely unchanged and this is where attention to detail can influence general health.
Cattle by virtue of their size, mouth and tongue shape, and in fact their entire digestive system, should ideally graze in herds on long grass pastures. Sheep, also being ruminants are closely related, but being more delicate, they are suited to grazing a variety of shorter grasses and herbaceous bushes. Goats are browsers, therefore need more shrubbery, and their superior agility allows them easy mountain access. Pigs are true omnivores eating plant roots and bulbs which they forage with their snouts. The further we deviate from providing a normal diet, the more disastrous the consequences for the animals. For example ‘mad cow’disease resulted from feeding cattle ‘beef by-products’.
If we consider the jaws and teeth of dogs and cats it is plain to see they are adapted for eating meat and for crunching through bones. Cats are true carnivores. They normally eat small birds, rodents, and fish – skin, meat and bones, ALL RAW. A natural diet for a dog is RAW MEATY BONES (RMB). Dogs are scavengers and love eating bones! They will chew them for hours, or bury them, return, lick them clean and continue to eat the rotting meat maggots and all. The bulk of meat and bone provide balanced nutrition, and satisfy a psychological yearning for sustained chewing, and prolonged digestion during the sleep that follows a meal. Dogs also eat small quantities of fruit, and some vegetable matter. Grains do not constitute part of a canine diet although they are tolerated.
The modern convenience trend is to feed dogs and cats dry pellets presented in alluring, brightly coloured packets with pseudoscientific names, endorsed by ‘vets’, displaying long lists of ‘balanced’ nutritional contents with a tantalizing array of artificial flavours. The basic ingredients of these products are usually grains, soya, ‘animal protein derivatives’, and artificial additives and addictives. Anyone can see this is far removed from natural diet in form and content, and also logically deduce that health problems will follow.
The disease usually begins in the mouth, where rapid accumulation of plaque and tartar on the teeth cause gum infections and prematurely rotten teeth. Many secondary effects such as kidney failure, bladder stones, heart problems, liver disorders, skin allergies, arthritis, digestive disturbances, obesity, and even behavioural problems have been attributed to abnormal diet. Disease manifests differently from one individual to the next and is usually multifactorial. But it is surprising how often health is rapidly restored after correcting the diet in line with the way nature intended.