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Forage Advice Issued After Study Finds Ewe Nutrition Lacking

03 March 2015

UK – Nutrition around lambing and into lactation “could be better” in some pedigree flocks, with improvements needed on forage digestibility, says a leading sheep consultant.

Independent specialist, Kate Philips, has said that good quality forage with a digestibility value (D-value) can reduce concentrates.

Hay is best at 60 D and silage should be at a maximum of 65 D, she has told producers after working with EBLEX to learn about nutrition and mastitis occurrence in a Warwick University study.

“This will mean cutting perhaps two weeks earlier than normal for many producers,” she explained.

“Get forage analysed so that concentrate supplements of the correct composition and at the right level can be provided.”

Supplements can also be minimised if well managed grazing supports spring lambing ewes in late pregnancy and early lactation, although Mrs Philips suggests adding magnesium on new leys.

Excessive concentrates should be avoided as starchy feed reduces rumen pH dramatically and restricts forage digestion and intake.

She added: “Avoid feeding excessive amounts of concentrates and certainly do not feed more than 0.5 kg in one feed. Few forages (apart from straw) justify feeding over 1 kg of compound feed per day to twin bearing ewes.”

She underlined the major increase in energy and protein requirements of sheep after lambing.

“For a 70 kg ewe expecting twins energy requirements increase from around 18MJ/day to about 30 MJ/day,” said Mrs Philips. “Appetite increases but if ewes are staying on the same forage this will generally mean an increase in concentrate supplements to help the ewe meet her needs for milk production without losing excessive amounts of body condition.”

TheSheepSite News Desk

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