Poor weather has forced us to change our feeding strategy
Published 13/05/2015 | 02:30
Grass supplies are behind target for this time of year. This is on the back of a cold and wet few weeks. This has meant management practices on the farm have had to change to allow us to adapt to the conditions.
I am allowing some batches of lambs to creep and to graze ahead of the ewes. I have creep gates in place and it is a system that suits me at the moment as grass supply is tight. Lambs also have access to a fresh, leafy pasture which should also help thrive.
A coarse ration is also available to lambs. I started the lambs on a cooked ration with high levels of molasses to encourage them to eat. This is now changed and the ration is a non-cooked 16pc CP intensive lamb ration. I try to give lambs the best chance possible at a younger age as this is when they are most efficient at converting food into live-weight gain.
This last week I have dosed all the lambs that are old enough with a Levamisole wormer which works against a broad spectrum of parasites including Nematodirus, Lungworms and the Strongyle species.
An increase in temperatures following a colder spell of weather gives Nematodirus eggs an opportunity to hatch into larvae. Lambs are beginning to consume large quantities of grass and there is a risk that they will contract the parasite.
A watery yellow-green scour and lambs that aren't thriving that well are good indicators of Nematodirus being present. I usually don't let lambs get to this stage. If Nematodirus is given the opportunity it will effect lamb thrive and ultimately it will take lambs longer to be finished.
I try to rotate and change the type of wormer I use on the farm every year in order to prevent any build-up of resistance in worms. I dosed the younger ewes in the flock as they are more susceptible to worms than the older ewes. I also dosed all the lambs with a chelated mineral and vitamin drench.
I have found over the years that my farm is low in some trace elements, especially copper and cobalt and it is also high in molybdenum and aluminium which are antagonist minerals which interfere with the animal's uptake and ability to use copper and other trace elements.