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Meet Ewe Protein Needs Without Soya, Study Shows

14 January 2015

UK - Catering for ewe protein requirements in late pregnancy can be done without costly soya-based supplements and minimal performance loss, proves a new study.

Alternative sources to soya, such as rapeseed, distillers grains, field beans and fodder beet, can successfully replace soya, according to English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX) findings looking at different total mixed ration (TMR) diets.

Savings can therefore be made in late pregnancy diets for producers seasonally turning to soya to provide ewes with adequate digestible undegradable protein (DUP) as foetuses grow. 

The study, funded by the HCC, ADAS and Reaseheath College, measured animal performance on the criteria on average ewe body condition score at lambing and lamb weights at birth and 56 days.

Best lamb weights were achieved on a rapeseed meal and cereals diet among the six groups of forty twin-bearing ewes in the study.

The most expensive ration included soya at £2.96 per head, with wheat distillers dark grains being the cheapest per head at £2.57.

EBLEX advisers underline the importance of digestible undegradable protein (DUP) in late pregnancy. Ewe needs for DUP cannot be met by forage alone, unlike rumen degradable protein which can be readily found while grazing and forage.

“Not all producers have access to TMR facilities but some will have the opportunity to mix their own diets so could consider some changes,” said EBLEX livestock scientist Dr Liz Genever.

Summarising the study she said: "There were no significant differences in animal performance between the diets."

“If diets are to be changed, help from a nutritionist is crucial and forage analysis should be carried out so feeds can be used to complement it.”

Further Reading

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