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The importance of nutrition during lambing season and beyond

Lisa Mancell National Sales Co-ordinator at Farmgate Feeds gives her advice on the role of diet in supporting your flock  

With peak lambing season well underway, it’s important to understand how nutrition and the overall health of our ewes has supported newborn lambs in the early days of their lives. When it comes to nutrition, attention to detail and forward planning throughout the year can make all the difference to lambing outcomes and profitability.

If you are in the final stages of preparing for your new lambs, the last six weeks really are the critical window in the calendar where you can influence and improve lambing outcomes through nutrition. A carefully balanced, high density and low-volume diet will support the growth of the unborn lambs as well as the health of the ewes.

Protein levels are one nutritional factor which make a dramatic difference to the ewe and her lambs, as protein stimulates lamb growth and milk production. The lamb foetus grows rapidly in the last few weeks which puts increasing pressure on the ewe’s rumen, reducing its capacity, and can suppress a ewe’s feed intake by as much as 30%. It is therefore very important that the ewe is given the right balance of nutrition and increasing the quantity of high-quality protein in a ewe’s diet is also advisable during this time.

Afbeelding: Ewe with lambs LR

For some farmers, home-mixing cereals can be a good way to reduce feed costs but getting the diet wrong can be costly if it doesn’t meet the nutritional requirements of the ewes. Farmgate Feeds smallholder range are compound feeds using the best raw ingredients to ensure that your ewes and their lambs receive a carefully balanced diet with no mixing required. You can also rest assured that the feed is supplemented with additional protein, digestible fire as well as vitamins and minerals to ensure ewe performance and lamb health aren’t compromised.

Vitamin E is important for lamb vigour and calcium supplementation will help prevent hypocalcaemia and magnesium will reduce incidences of hypomagnesemia at grass. Trace elements such as selenium, cobalt, and iodine are important to help improve lamb health whilst zinc supplementation will reduce the risk of mastitis and lameness in ewes. Growth rate is crucial in these early days as it means that lambs will be more efficient at utilising feed, therefore continuing to improve their growth and health.

Farmgate Feeds All Stock range is flexible, palatable and highly nutritious with well-balanced products to provide the required levels of energy and proteins together with essential minerals and vitamins for optimum health. Farmgate’s All Stock 18% Coarse Mix product provides extra protein to support ewes. It is recommended that feeding is commenced 6 weeks prior to lambing at 0.2kg per head per day, slowly increased until 1kg per head per day is fed, some 2 weeks before lambing*. This should continue after lambing until the grass is plentiful.

*actual feeding levels will depend on ewe condition, weather and the number of lambs expected/born.