Please Don’t Eat The Violets


The sheep and donkeys come close to eating the violets growing in the pasture, but they must not taste good to them, because they don’t seem to eat them. We have plenty growing on the farm.

It’s always a wonder to me how the sheep and donkeys look as if they’re gobbling up anything green that is in their path.  But they are really very discriminating about what they eat.   They mostly use their sense of taste to find the sweetest grass.  If they eat something disagreeable they won’t swallow it.

They also use their sense of smell and sight to choose what to eat.  Sheep don’t see color but can distinguish plants by size and shape and the shades of gray they do see.

Ewes teach their lambs what they should and shouldn’t eat. But they also learn by experience.

I saw Asher sniff at a Blue flag Iris leaf as he walked past it.  The animals seem to know that they are poisonous and soon those pretty purple flowers will be blooming along the edges of the marsh.

6 thoughts on “Please Don’t Eat The Violets

  1. You’re too young to remember this old Doris Day movie, but all I could think of reading this post was “Don’t Eat the Daisies”.

  2. I have been involved with horse owner friends about removing poisonous plants from their pastures.
    So I went to look at what is poisonous to sheep:
    Violets is on the OK to eat list. But for their own reasons, your sheep are avoiding them. There is one plant on that list that has deadly toxic next to it and it is Japanese Pieris or Japanese Andromeda, a common landscape foundation shrub. Just surprising. I am glad your sheep avoid the poisonous plants, and I assume most grazing animals do. But not all. Maybe if the pasture is low quality grass, they are not as picky.

    I am picking violets and drying them for use on salads later.

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