12 September 1997

Action on slow finishing lambs

SHEEP producers with lambs which are slow to finish this autumn should assess condition, then group and feed accordingly.

After a more normal summer – damp and cool for the most part – lambs have been slow to finish says ADAS sheep specialist Lesley Stubbings. "Lambs do better in hot, dry conditions. This year, a high proportion have been scouring because of the wet grass, which has also slowed finishing."

With more lambs on farm, she advises producers to handle and weigh them to assess condition.

"It is expensive to start putting condition on lambs at the end of September. Assess them now, group according to condition, and decide what you are going to do."

Lambs which will finish quickly should be offered supplementary feed. "Whole cereals such as barley are ideal. But introduce them carefully, and build up over a few days to 0.5-1lb a head a day.

"Assess level of finish regularly to ensure lambs do not become over-fat or over-heavy, which will lead to abattoir penalties."

Lambs which are unlikely to finish quickly should be grouped. Forage availability will determine whether they should be finished over the long term or sold as stores.