Guest Vet Article: Sheep Farming & Nutrition

February 3, 2020

Nutrition is arguably the single most important factor in successful and profitable sheep farming.

Energy should be provided largely by cereals rather than their cheaper by-products.  Good quality protein sources such as soya bean meal, rapeseed meal and peas/beans ensure maximal benefit.  Quality ingredients are expensive but it’s more cost-effective to feed less of a quality compound rather than more of a cheaper product.

Forage analysis is a useful and under-used tool, allowing feeding to be tailored specifically and money spent where appropriate. With good forage, single-baring ewes may need no more than a small amount of high-protein straights such as soya to balance the diet.  Homemade diets, feeding of straights to complement analysed forage or TMR can work well and be cost-effective.

JPA can provide a host of technical services, including Forage Analysis. Download our Technical Services flyer HERE

70% of foetal growth takes place in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy with large increases in nutritional demands with respect to both energy and protein.  Addressing these requirements helps to ensure good lamb birthweights and vigour, good udder development, colostrum production and lactation and good mothering ability.  Ewes in late pregnancy can be grouped according to the due date, body condition, breed, foetal numbers etc to allow appropriate nutrition. For ewes with high concentrate requirements, it is preferable to feed no more than 0.5kg at a single feed to avoid ruminal acidosis.  In these ewes, twice daily feeding is preferable.

The adequacy of nutrition in late pregnancy can be checked with blood sampling for metabolic profiling.  If done approximately 4 weeks before lambing, there is time to implement necessary changes.

For more information on our sheep feeds or technical services, please get in touch with your local JPA Sales Specialist, email or call us on 0800 262397.

Sarah Harker BVM&S MRCVS

Veterinary Surgeon

FarmGate Vets

01768 881881

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