Ewe nutrition pre-lambing
A major driver of ewe performance can be put down to the nutritional diet they are fed. The nutrients your flock ingest affect their growth, lactation, maintenance and health and reproductive success. We want to talk about getting your ewe the correct nutritional balance to get into lamb efficiently and with success.
Let’s start with the fact that ewes can only eat 1.5-1.8kg of DM per day, and this includes all their nutritional requirements! So, from the get-go we are working with a limited capacity. Making it all the more important to balance ewe’s nutritional needs.
In the last six weeks prior to lambing, the energy and protein requirements of your ewe are significantly increased and in the last two weeks the energy requirement is increased by 60%! The reason behind this increase is that 70% of the lamb’s growth is done in the last 6 weeks prior to lambing, the ewe’s udder development is done during this period, and colostrum production is ramped up ready for lambing. The development of colostrum is key for the newborn lamb to ingest antibodies to help boost its immune system and energy to get the lamb up and running. So, scrimping on ewe nutrition is really not an option if you want a productive, and healthy lamb crop.
Top Tip: We recommend scanning your ewes to determine how many lambs they are carrying. This will give you a better understanding of their nutritional requirements, if a ewe is carrying a single lamb, their energy and protein needs will differ to a ewe carrying triplets. Once you have scanned your flock, group them by litter size to allow for easy management.
Helpful Hint: Limit ewes feed 10 hours prior to scanning to allow for more accurate reading of ultrasound.
Feeding our popular 18% Ewe Master Nuts or our 19% Intensive Ewe (depending on forage analysis) will ensure your pregnant ewes are receiving the correct balance of energy and protein as well as a good intake of vitamins and minerals. Considering a ewe’s feeding requirement doubles in the lead up to lambing but rumen capacity is restricted, an in cases of twins and triplets seriously reduced, it is vital to provide a quality, well balanced ration to fulfil the nutrient requirements of the ewe.
Top Tip: if you are feeding more than 1kg per day of concentrate, make sure to split into two or three feeds a day as feeding more than 0.5kg per ewe will reduce rumen pH and effect fibre digestion
We have the added benefit of including the Lifeline mineral pack in our 19% Pre Lamber diet. Lifeline is proven to increase lamb vigour and watery births. Lifeline has also found to increase the quantity and quality of colostrum. A win- win for the unborn lamb and the ewe!
Did You Know: if your ewe is producing plenty of thick yellow colostrum it is a sure sign that your ewe has been well fed at lambing.
If you find your ewes are tapping into their fat reserves and losing condition, the chances are, they have been inadequately fed. This can lead to increased risk of twin lamb disease and other production limiting diseases. To help monitor this, it is prudent to periodically assess body condition scores to assess the health and productiveness of your flock. This year’s silages have been a little light on energy, so it is vital to test your forages to identify any supplementation shortfalls, speak to your Feed Specialist to organise sample testing. They can advise on the best rations to help maximise your returns and reach your business goals.
For more information on our range of sheep feeds, contact us today.