Ensuring ewe nutrition during the last six to eight weeks of pregnancy should be a focus of a sheep producers breeding program, says Trident Feeds ruminant nutritionist, Bethany May.
“Lamb survival and the ewes mothering ability is greatly affected by nutrition during the later stages of pregnancy”, says Ms May, “A large amount of resources will be partitioned towards foetal growth. The size of the ewe’s rumen can be impacted as the lambs continue to grow in the uterus, taking up a greater proportion of body space”.
In order to keep nutrient supply at an equal pace to foetal growth producers are urged to increase the nutrient density of the ration as the gestation period progresses.
However, feeding a diet high in cereals should be avoided as it can quickly upset the rumen, ultimately affecting lamb growth rates.
“If you need to feed cereals to bolster the energy content of a ration you should ensure they’re fed as part of a balanced mixed ration, including a good amount of digestible fibre, such as sugar beet pulp,” adds Ms May.
“Sugar beet feed has a slower rate of rumen fermentation in comparison with cereals, so the risk of digestive upset is reduced. Dry matter intake is also stimulated and increased nutrients for milk production are provided, therefore aiding lamb growth rates”.