Nutrition management of ewes during late pregnancy has a significant impact on profitability
The energy requirement of single, twin and triplet-bearing ewes increase by 40, 60 and 70pc respectively during late pregnancy.
Management of the ewe during late pregnancy impacts on lamb weight and vigour at birth, and colostrum production by the ewe, all of which influence labour requirement around lambing and flock profitability. The data presented in this article is based on research undertaken in recent years at Athenry.
Dry matter digestibility (DMD) is the main factor influencing silage feed value. Each FIVE percentage unit rise in increases:
- ewe weight post lambing by 6.5kg lamb birth weight by 0.26kg
- Concentrate requirement of ewes during late pregnancy is influenced by silage feed value and expected litter size.
Targeting concentrate supplementation to ewes with larger litters ensures ewes have adequate colostrum and lambs are born at optimum weight which reduces lamb mortality.
The effects of silage feed value on the total concentrate requirement of twin-bearing ewes in late pregnancy are presented in Table 1.
The data presented in Table 1 clearly illustrates the importance of analysing silage prior to feeding it to pregnant ewes and prior to developing a nutrition plan for ewes in late pregnancy.
It is assumed that the silage is being offered using good feeding management, ie, ewes have access to fresh silage 24 hours daily and that any silage residue is removed twice weekly.
The concentrate requirements per ewe presented in Table 1 can be reduced by 5kg in the case of single-bearing ewes, while concentrate supplementation should be increased by 8kg for ewes carrying triplets.