In order to achieve maximum economic returns from lambs this autumn/winter, sheep farmers need to plan production and resources to decide how to finish the lambs or sell them as stores to meet the requirements of the chosen market.
Looking at alternative ways to finish store lambs going into winter needs to be a priority to allow the grazing platform for in lamb ewes or recovery;
Finishing lambs on deferred grazing is an option when grass isn’t required for the breeding ewes. Finishing on grass allows a cheaper way to finish the lambs, however as grass quality drops goinginto the autumn and grazing conditions become worse, daily liveweight gain will start to drop off and it will take longer to finish the lambs. When lambs are on tack the cost of the finishing period should be calculated.
FEEDING ON ROOTS/FORAGE CROPS
If the farm has roots and forage crops in the ground, or are able to take this on keep, this can be a cost effective way of finishing lambs pre and post Christmas. All crops should be strip grazed to limit wastage and allowing some structural fibre with in diet in the form of hay or haylage or a grass runback is important for rumen health and mineral supplementation will be required. Feeding concentrates can increase DLWG and increase stocking rates if required.
INDOOR FINISHED LAMBS
This system can be used to finish any end of season lambs, and will allow the grazing platform recovery for the spring or ewe grazing. The diet should be introduced gradually, building up over 10-14 days to ad lib feeding. Once lambs are eating continuously feeders should not be allowed to become empty for significant periods. This will reduce the risk of animals overeating when feeders are refilled. Lambs require access to long forage so either bed generously or feed some straw or hay. On a slatted system a high fibre concentrate can be fed alone after a transition period. Even though at this time the lambs have a FCR of between 6:1-8:1, financial gains can be improved by the selection of the correct concentrate to limit digestive upset and attention to detail on animal health.
For bought-in store lambs, always treat for parasites and vaccinate, don’t assume the vendor has done this as issues here will limit live weight gain. The transition from grazing to indoor finishing is critical when purchasing store lambs either straight off the hills or out of the market.
Lambmaster Finisher pellets/nuts offers a palatable and balanced feed, with the correct balance of starch and sugars for optimal performance, and a high level of digestible fibre offers a stable feed for the rumen of optimal growth rates on grazed systems, brassicas and indoor housed systems. All Lambmaster diets include a sweetener ‘Lamb Sweet’ to stimulate intakes and improve alatability and achieve higher DLWG to turnover lambs much quicker on an ad lib feeding system. Lambmaster Finisher is a 16% crude protein diet formulated with the correct mineral balance and ammonium chloride to prevent urinary calculi.
Wynnstay’s Ram and Lamb Blend offers a 14% finishing blend with higher starch values with the inclusion or whole maize and oats mixed with Lambmaster 18 pellets. This is ideally suited to fast finishing systems to get accelerated growth rates and greater finish. Although higher in starch feeding maize and oats whole allows a safer way of feeding starch with less chance of digestive upset. If you need and more info about Wynnstay’s Lambmaster range please contact your local Wynnstay representative.
Written by Iwan Vaughan | Ruminant Specialist at Wynnstay Group Plc