Reassess your finishing plans to get the best returns from lambs this autumn and winter, sheep farmers told
Sheep farmers may need to consider alternative ways to finish their lambs this autumn and winter if they want to achieve maximum returns from their stock.
Wynnstay ruminant specialist Iwan Vaughan says deciding how to finish lambs, or whether to sell them as stores, should be a priority if farmers are to get the best from their animals during this time of low prices.
He says farmers should assess the benefits of each system - whether that’s finishing on grass, feeding on roots or forage crops, or finishing their animals indoors - and be willing to try something different to make the best of their lambs.
To help farmers plan for the coming months, Mr Vaughan offers his tips on what farmers should consider across each system:
“Finishing lambs on deferred grazing is an option when grass isn’t required for the breeding ewes, and offers a cheaper way to finish lambs,” he says.
“However as grass quality drops going into the autumn and grazing conditions become worse, daily liveweight gain will start to drop off, and it will take longer to finish the lambs.”
When lambs are on tack the cost of the finishing period should be calculated, he adds.
Feeding on roots or forage crops
If the farm has roots and forage crops in the ground, or are able to take this on keep, this can be a cost-effective way of finishing lambs pre- and post-Christmas, Mr Vaughan says.
“All crops should be strip-grazed to limit wastage, and allowing some structural fibre within diet in the form of hay or haylage or a grass runback is important for rumen health and mineral supplementation will be required.
“Feeding concentrates can increase DLWG and increase stocking rates if required.”
This system can be used to finish any end of season lambs, and will allow the grazing platform recovery for the spring or ewe grazing.
“The diet should be introduced gradually, building up over 10-14 days to ad lib feeding. Once lambs are eating continuously, feeders should not be allowed to become empty for significant periods,” Mr Vaughan says. “This will reduce the risk of animals overeating when feeders are refilled.”
Lambs require access to long forage, so either bed generously or feed some straw or hay. On a slatted system a high-fibre concentrate can be fed alone after a transition period. Even though at this time the lambs have a FCR of between 6:1-8:1, financial gains can be improved by the selection of the correct concentrate to limit digestive upset and attention to detail on animal health.
“For bought-in store lambs, always treat for parasites and vaccinate,” he adds. “Don’t assume the vendor has done this as issues here will limit live weight gain. The transition from grazing to indoor finishing is critical when purchasing store lambs either straight off the hills or out of the market.”
Using specialist feeds will also help ensure animals have the right nutrition and trace minerals to deal with any stress when they are moved indoors, Mr Vaughan says.
“Products such as Lambmaster Finisher pellets and nuts offer a palatable and balanced feed, with the correct balance of starch and sugars for optimal performance.
“Its high level of digestible fibre also offers a stable feed for the rumen of optimal growth-rates on grazed systems, brassicas and indoor housed systems.”
All Lambmaster diets include a sweetener ‘Lamb Sweet’ to stimulate intakes, improve palatability and achieve higher DLWG to turnover lambs much quicker on an ad lib feeding system.
Lambmaster Finisher is a 16% crude protein diet formulated with the correct mineral balance and ammonium chloride to prevent urinary calculi.
“This is ideally suited to fast finishing systems to get accelerated growth rates and greater finish,” Mr Vaughan adds
Notes to Editors:
For more information about Wynnstay’s Lambmaster range, contact Wynnstay on 01691 828512 or email email@example.com
Published by Be Bold Public Relations, 01952 898121, email Wynnstay@beboldpr.com.