Sheep: High quality silage is helping us to make big savings on concentrates
With under three weeks to go until lambing at Lyons Research Farm the focus is on preparation for lambing, the research which runs alongside the lambing and having everything in place to turn ewes out after lambing.
This time last year we were hoping for milder weather to allow the grass to grow. This year we are looking for the rain to stop to allow fertiliser application on the grazing ground.
Silage quality on offer to our ewes this year is very good. Our first cut silage offered to the ewes in late pregnancy is both high DMD at 77pc and high protein at 15.1pc.
This is allowing us to make significant savings on concentrate feeding levels. At the time of writing triplets are receiving 500gm of concentrates daily, twin bearing ewes just began receiving meals on February 17 at a rate of 400gm daily and the singles are on restricted silage feeding to prevent ewes becoming over conditioned.
The concentrate contains 18pc crude protein, and we are feeding the 18pc concentrate a little earlier this year than previously, simply due to the fact that with the low levels of concentrate inputs it did not make sense to purchase another batch of our 14pc crude protein concentrate to cover just a single weeks feeding.
The single ewes will receive 100gm of soya bean meal in the last two weeks of pregnancy to push on udder development and colostrum and milk production as we will be expecting many of these ewes to be recipients for foster lambs.
All ewe lambs were receiving 300gm of concentrate daily up to February 17 when the twins were moved onto 400gm. The benefit of making good quality silage, and knowing you have good quality silage by carrying out a forage quality test are clear to see.
Ewes and lambs received their clostridial vaccinations last week using Heptavac P plus and at the same time the ewes were foot bathed using formalin at 5pc.