Tuesday 10 November 2020Moist Co-products - The Way Forward for In-Lamb Ewes

With tupping season well underway – and already over for many – it’s time to look forward to spring and a new crop of lambs. 

What you feed your ewes during pregnancy influences not only their own wellbeing, but also the ease with which they give birth and the thriftiness of their lambs. Getting it right is one of the most crucial decisions in a shepherd’s year. Seasoned shepherds will be all too familiar with the issues associated with over - or under-feeding, from excessively large lambs to insufficient milk production. 

For outdoor lambing, the combination of forage and cob-form concentrates is a practical choice. But if you’re lambing indoors, there are other options to consider. You might not have thought about moist co-products for your in-lamb ewes, but they’ve got a lot to offer.

 

Indoor feeding – the traditional way

From mid to late pregnancy, ewes are generally offered ad lib forage (in the form of hay, grass silage or maize silage), topped up with dry blend or compound feed. Through the day and night, they’ll browse the forage, eating to appetite. The supplementary blend or compound is then fed usually twice daily with increased quantities as the ewes become heavier in lamb and rumen space decreases.

This system is tried and tested but comes with some disadvantages:

  • Competition at the trough can lead to injury and possible abortion. 
  • Competition makes it hard to ensure each animal consistently gets the right ration and weaker or older ewes may be crowded out altogether.
  • Rapidly digestible concentrates have the effect of increasing rumen pH therefore potentially resulting in acidosis which will reduce dry matter intakes.
  • Blends can lead to selective feeding and wastage as the ewes sort out the bits they like and reject those they don’t.

 

Moist co-products – an effective alternative

Farmers with indoor lambing systems, moist co-products can be an excellent alternative to dry concentrates, for a number of reasons:

  • A total mix ration including moist co-products can be formulated and balanced to suit the nutritional value of your forage. 
  • As moist co-products are highly palatable and have an appealing aroma, sorting is minimised, and feed intakes maximised.
  • The balanced ration is available ad lib 24/7 reducing competition for feeding.
  • Having a consistent ration throughout the day can help minimise risk of acidosis.
  • As nutrient requirements increase throughout pregnancy, the ration can be formulated to suit these changes and the requirements for singles, doubles, and multiples can be met.
  • There is no competing, so the ewes remain calm – which is critical in late pregnancy.
  • There can be significant cost savings.
  • If set up correctly the system should be labour saving. 
  • Rations can be mixed on-farm or Duynie has a range of manufactured moist blends which can be used to balance variable forages.

 

Example Ration

* Based on average grass silage for an 80kg ewe* 

 

6 Weeks to Lambing

4 Weeks to Lambing

2 Weeks to Lambing

6 Weeks to Lambing

4 Weeks to Lambing

2 Weeks to Lambing

Cost per head/day

£0.21

£0.25

£0.28

£0.20

£0.23

£0.26

Feeds

 

Duynie Advance Mix

0

0

0

1.10

1.50

1.85

Duynie Ewe + Vit E Minerals

0

0

0

0.02

0.02

0.02

Sheep 18% Nut

0.60

0.80

1.00

0

0

0

Grass Silage (Average)

2.00

1.50

1.00

2.00

1.50

1.00

Total Daily Intake (Kg)

2.6

2.3

2.0

3.1

3.0

2.9

Nutrient Analysis

 

Dry Matter Intake (Kg)

1.12

1.15

1.17

1.12

1.15

1.16

Dry Matter (Kg)

43.2

49.8

58.5

35.9

38.1

40.4

M.E. (MJ)

12.6

13.1

13.6

12.8

13.6

14.1

Crude Protein (%DM)

16.6

17.7

18.7

15.9

16.9

17.9

NDF (%DM)

41.5

37.4

33.4

41.8

37.8

34.2

Starch & Sugar (%DM)

11.9

14.3

16.6

16.4

20.5

24.2

We use functional, analytical and marketing cookies to guarantee the proper functioning of our website and to increase its user-friendliness. By clicking on ‘continue’, you agree to the placement of cookies.