22 November 1996

Alternatives to grass required

ALTERNATIVE feeds for winter finishing lambs should be introduced now as grass growth starts to decline.

That is the view of Ayrshire-based Signet consultant Steven Johnston in Novembers Beef and Sheep Notes.

"The aim should be to finish lambs when prices are highest. There is no point in reaching March – after which prices fall – and discovering that your lambs are not finished."

He suggests that the flock be introduced to concentrate feed while at grass. "The larger lambs, those currently above 36kg, should finish off grass supplemented by 250-300g a head a day of a 15-16% protein concentrate."

But lambs currently weighing below 36kg should be taken inside, where housing is available, says Dr Johnston.

"The smaller lambs should be taken inside to ensure they finish while the market is buoyant. They should be introduced to concentrate while still at grass. At housing, good quality ad lib silage should be supplemented with 500g a head a day of a 13-15% protein concentrate."

Poorer quality silage, with an ME below 10.5 and D-value below 68, will require a higher level of supplementation, he warns. "It is often a good idea to monitor intakes and adjust the ration accordingly." &#42