Sheep: A high soya-based ration is key to milk quality in ewes
Published 17/02/2016 | 02:30
As election fever grips the country, what I call 'preparation fever' for lambing is gripping the farm. I am now only a few weeks away from the beginning of lambing. I have been preparing for this since last July so I find I can get a bit edgy at this time of year.
I am anxiously awaiting the opportunity to get fertiliser out on the fields closed off since last October. It is vital to get it out to ensure there is enough grass to last me through the spring without having to supplement my ewes and lambs.
Luckily the mild winter has left the grass cover on the farm in a super condition. So, given the right conditions, I will go out with a half bag of urea in most fields. I just need mother nature to lay off with the monsoons and hurricanes.
Feeding pregnant ewes in the run-up to lambing is a tricky business. You've got to check the ingredients of the feed that you are giving your ewes and give them the right quantity. I like to go for a high soya based ration.
This means that soya should be at least second or third on the list of ingredients making up at least 15pc of the contents of your ration. Without soya in your ration at a significant level you are going to find yourself in a situation where your ewes could lamb down without sufficient milk for their lambs.
You then have all the problems associated with this such as weak lambs with low levels of immunity. Ultimately you will be faced with significant losses.
Insist on a high soya based ration from your feed merchant and don't be fobbed off with alternatives. I have built the doubles and triplet carrying ewes up to 0.5kgs of a high soya 17pc ration.
I am now giving the triplet bearing ewes an extra 200 grams in the evening of a 20pc nut, which is again high soya based. I will also move the triplet ewes up to a total feed of 1 kilo of ration in the last 10 days, splitting the feeding in two.