Thursday 4 June 2020Maximising Store Lamb Performance with Co-Products

When it comes to finishing store lambs, there are plenty of different routes you can take. Which you choose will depend on your system, your timeframe, and the on-farm resources available. 

The three most common approaches follow tried-and-tested patterns that combine the feeding of forage such as hay, grass silage or maize silage alongside dry compounds or homegrown cereals.

  • Early lambing: ewes give birth in December and January, producing offspring to meet demand from the spring lamb market. The lambs stay indoors, eating ad-lib creep along with mother’s milk before weaning at 12 weeks. A concentrate finisher is then fed to get them up to weight.

 

  • Summer finishing: lambs born in February and March are destined for the autumn market from July to October. They fatten on grass and milk until weaning in mid-summer, after which they’re finished with grass and concentrate, generally fed outside.

 

  • Winter finishing: later lambs born in March and April are the slow-growers, intended to infill the gaps between the peak spring and autumn markets. Whether lambing takes place indoors or outdoors, the lambs are turned away to grass with their mothers as early as possible and weaned in late summer. This allows the ewes the opportunity to flush before returning to the tup. The weaned lambs over-winter outdoors, eating any available pasture as well as turnips, kale and silage. They gradually reach weight and are picked out for sale as they finish.

 

An alternative approach

For farmers focussed on an efficient turnaround of stock and keen to maximise their margins, there is another way. This involves buying in store lambs (and potentially cull ewes) from August through to May. The animals can be housed in buildings that may otherwise be under-utilised at times other than lambing. Farmers for whom lamb finishing is a major part of their business may find it viable to put up buildings specifically for the purpose. The indoor system allows careful assessment of how much the animals are eating. It also makes monitoring of daily live-weight gains (DLWG) easier, ensuring inputs and outputs are balanced. Co-products are an economical feed choice in this environment –palatable moist blends can replace dry concentrates to maximise intake and minimise costs.

The benefits of feeding co-products

While pelletized concentrates are a familiar choice and easy to feed, co-product moist blends are a high-performing alternative. For reliable fermentable energy, they combine ingredients such as confectionary and potato-based starch sources with distillery syrups. Brewers grains provide protein. Their benefits include:

  • Highly palatable and softly textured, moist blends are readily consumed and suitable even for broken-mouthed ewes that would struggle with dry concentrates.

 

  • Blends such as Power Mix or Boost Mix can be fed alone as a complete ration or mixed with home-produced cereals and forage such as grass or maize silage.

 

  • Moist blends are available year-round and mixed with a permitted preservative to ensure quality is retained on-farm.

 

  • Co-product feeds come with transparent ingredient information and assured nutritional values.

 

  • Farmers can choose to customise their own co-product mix. For example, combining bread, biscuits, citrus pulp and brewers’ grains with a range of dry feeds. 

 

The facts and stats

 

16% Compound + Maize Silage

Duynie Boost Mix + Maize Silage

Duynie Power Mix + Maize Silage

Cost per head per day

£0.25

£0.21

£0.22

Ration per head per day

1.6kg

2.3kg

2.2kg

Starch & Sugar (% DM)

22.3

31.1

39.5

Crude Protein (% DM)

16.3

15.8

15.4

M.E. (MJ)

12.6

12.5

12.5

NDF (% DM)

29.4

31.4

27.0

 

 

16% Compound + Grass Silage

Boost Mix + Grass Silage

Power Mix + Grass Silage

Cost per head per day

£0.24

£0.21

£0.21

Ration per head per day

1.6kg

2.4kg

2.3kg

Starch + Sugar (% DM)

17

25.3

33.8

Crude Protein (%DM)

17.2

16.7

15.7

M.E. (MJ)

12.5

12.5

12.5

NDF (% DM)

32.2

34.3

30.3

 

In systems where margins are tight and every day of growth counts, success is measured in financial cost, speed of finishing and the quality of the finished carcass.

While the comparison above shows a modest daily cost saving where co-products are fed, it’s in the performance that the real impact is felt. When Power Mix is combined with either silage or maize, it offers more balanced nutrition than 16% compounds, allowing for higher daily live-weight gains and faster finishing. The palatability of moist blends encourages higher intake so DLWGs are consistent and optimised. In terms of nutrition, appropriate levels of protein mean animals aren’t pushed on too quickly or too far to fat, while higher starch levels result in improved carcass conformation.

Interested in finding out how co-product feeds could contribute to the success of your lamb-finishing operation? Contact your local Duynie sales manager to discuss your options. 

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