Supporting ewes at lambing time

Supporting the ewe

Coming into the last 6 weeks before lambing, 70% of lamb and liquid growth happens. This results in an increase in energy and protein demand. Not only is energy demand increasing, the physical size of the rumen is being constricted; this means feed must be high energy, well balanced and encourage rumen function. By-pass protein is essential pre-lambing for colostrum quality and rumen degradable protein is important to stimulate rumen function and ensure that ewes utilise forage; these are included in many of our ewe compounds. Once ewes are successfully lambed, supporting her to ensure she repairs any tissue damage and can produce milk, adequate enough to grow her lambs is essential. As a rule, continue to supplement ewes until grass swards are over 4cm.

Lamb get up and go

Shivering accounts for 50% of heat production in newborn lambs and brown fat, which is the layer of fat a lamb is born with, accounts for a further 30%. Selenium is essential for muscle function, which allows newborns to shiver and release energy stored in brown fat. Traditional sources of selenium are not well utilised, so we use Sel-Plex selenium in our ewe compounds and Energyze Vitality buckets. Trials have shown more lambs weaned with heavier and faster growth rates compared to lambs that were not fed Sel-Plex. Additionally, gestation length has an affect on birth weight, as well as the time it takes to stand and suckle.

Omega 3 has been shown to increase gestation length and birth weight and decrease time to stand and suckle, making it essential in top quality ewe feeds.

Colostrum quality

Concentrate on getting a big belly full, as quickly as possible. Quality can be influenced by ensuring a proportion of the pre-lambing diet contains by-pass protein. Traditionally this would have been fish meal, more recently soya bean meal and as we move towards a more carbon neutral target, there are a growing range of equally cost effective options which have the same benefit on colostrum quality.

Lamb growth

The first step towards optimising lamb growth is rumen function and whether finishing lambs on grass or compound feed, feeding creep is the best way to develop the rumen well. When finishing lambs, feed conversion is the most important consideration, rather than cost per tonne of feed and this can be easily calculated with your feed advisor.

Need some advice?
Contact one of our trusted experts.

Get in touch