Abstract Climate regulation, erosion control, correction of saline soils, fertility recovery and increase in soil productivity are some of the multiple benefits that can be obtained by growing forage bushes in arid and semi-arid climates. Atriplex halimus L. is a native Mediterranean bush that is well adapted to arid conditions because it is resistant to drought, highly efficient in the use of water and very salt tolerant. The purpose of this study was to determine the proportion of A. halimus twigs and leaves consumed by Manchega-breed sheep and the effects of such choice on the chemical composition of the consumed feed, the amount of water intake, the body weight (BW) and the blood mineral profile. Two groups consisting of 6 Manchega-breed sheep were formed and separately studied over a 4-week period. The chemical composition of A. halimus leaves showed its high protein (16.16%) and mineral (23.51%) content, whereas the twigs showed high levels of NDF and ADF (69.28% and 40.60% respectively). Our results indicated that the quality of the A. halimus forage was clearly related to the proportion of leaves and twigs voluntarily eaten by the animals. After an adaptation period, the animals consumed quantities of forage close to the maximum daily intake capacity. However, these amounts were just high enough to cover the sheeps maintenance levels, as shown by their body weight evolution. Regarding mineral nutrition, the selection of the A. halimus diet ensured that values of blood mineral were kept within the typical ranges for Manchega-breed sheep.